Protect yourself and others

COVID-19 is in the community. To slow the spread and continue to protect yourself, your whānau, and your community, it is important to keep up the healthy habits we know.

Stay up to date with your vaccinations

Having COVID-19 does not provide the same level of immunity as getting vaccinated. We also know that your protection from the primary course of the vaccine decreases over time.

To keep your immunity levels high, stay up to date with your vaccinations — including boosters. This will lower your chances of getting very sick from COVID-19 and ending up in hospital.

Vaccination remains one of the best tools in the fight against COVID-19. Even if you have had COVID-19, getting a booster once enough time has passed gives you another layer of protection from the virus.

Being up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations also helps protect people who are more at risk of becoming seriously ill from the virus and people who cannot be vaccinated such as babies and children under 5 years old.

You should wait 6 months after testing positive before getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccines

Stay home if you are sick

Staying home if you are sick can stop the spread of COVID-19. If you have cold, flu or COVID-19 symptoms you should get a test as soon as you start to feel unwell.

Doing a test and reporting the result in My Covid Record means you can get the help you need as early as possible.

It is also important to test before visiting people who are at higher risk and to not visit them if you have any symptoms.

Call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested.

COVID-19 symptoms

How to get a COVID-19 test

Limit time in crowded places

There are locations where there is a greater risk of infection spreading between people. These include:

  • public transport — buses, trains, indoors on ferries and flights
  • closed indoor spaces with poor ventilation
  • crowded places
  • close-contact settings, for example, if there are face-to-face conversations, shouting or singing.

Consider limiting the time you spend indoors with large groups of other people. If you cannot avoid crowds, wear a well-fitting face mask to help protect you. Eat and drink outside when possible.

If you are hosting or inviting people into your home:

  • have hand sanitiser available
  • open the windows and doors
  • eat outdoors when possible
  • spend time outside.

Wear a face mask

Face masks can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. They are useful in poorly ventilated indoor areas and when you are in a crowd of people.

They stop particles from spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. Respirator-type masks such as N95, KN95 or FFP2 masks also help prevent you from breathing in the virus. This is particularly useful when someone has COVID-19 but feels well or has no obvious symptoms.

You must wear one when visiting healthcare services.

Wearing a face mask

Keep your distance from others when indoors

You are not required to maintain physical distance from others. But it is still worthwhile keeping a safe distance from people while you are out and about. This will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Improve ventilation

Good ventilation helps remove COVID-19 virus particles in the air. We encourage you to let in fresh air every day, including after someone visits your home, shop or office.

If you can, partly open a window about 5cm for most of the day. Or open windows for at least 15 minutes as often as possible, whenever it is practical to do so.

If your windows do not open, check if your ventilation system filters (cleans) the air.

Ventilation and COVID-19

Cough or sneeze into your elbow

Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with tissues. Put tissues in a bin immediately, then wash or sanitise your hands. This will catch the droplets and keep the virus off your hands, so you will not spread it to others people, surfaces or objects.

Keep your hands clean

Washing or sanitising your hands is 1 of the easiest ways to keep yourself and others safe. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Then dry your hands completely.

Using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser is also effective at killing germs and viruses. The sanitiser needs to be at least 60% alcohol. Make sure you use enough product to cover your hands, rub it in and allow it to dry.

You should wash or sanitise your hands if you have been in a public place, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching your face, including your eyes, nose or mouth, if your hands are not clean. Either way you clean your hands, it will kill the COVID-19 virus by bursting its protective bubble.

Keeping your hands clean also prevents other types of germs and viruses. This is especially important if you are visiting vulnerable people.

Clean surfaces

Clean surfaces regularly. This includes frequently touched items like door handles, light switches and phones.

When an infected person breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they may spread particles containing the virus. These particles range in size. The larger and heavier particles or droplets can settle on surrounding surfaces.

Use regular household cleaning products and follow instructions. Remember to store cleaners and disinfectants safely.

Keep track of where you have been

As Omicron is now widespread, we no longer need to contact trace individual cases. This means you do not need to keep a record of where you have been for contact tracing purposes.

In case you do test positive for COVID-19, it is still a good idea to:

  • keep track of people you have been with
  • record any high-risk locations you have visited, for example hospitals or aged care facilities
  • keep Bluetooth tracing turned on.

We encourage you to not remove the NZ COVID Tracer app from your phone just yet. Bluetooth tracing is still being used to notify people if they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Bluetooth tracing

The contact tracing system may need to return if another variant of concern arrives in New Zealand.

Keep track of where you have been

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