25 Mar 2020

Covid-19: Siouxsie Wiles answers your lockdown questions

5:40 pm on 25 March 2020

By midnight tonight, New Zealand will be going into alert level 4, aside from essential workers, the whole country will be staying home for at least four weeks. But what exactly are the rules?

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles Photo: Supplied

Microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles told Nine to Noon the really important thing is to remain isolated from people outside of our household.

"What we're trying to figure out is whether anybody in that home has been exposed and therefore will develop the virus and if they haven't, that they don't connect with another household that has been exposed to the virus and develops illness," she said.

Anyone who ventures out of the house needs to not be in contact with people of another household within two metres, for more than 15 minutes, Wiles said.

"This virus is not airborne, so we can go outside, the important point is that we aren't outside with other people outside of our household.

"You can go for a run, with the person that you're living with, you can go for a walk, with the person that you're living with, but you cannot do that with people from another household unless you're going to stay 2 metres apart. It is just easier for most people to stay away from other people."

My daughter, who lives a walk away from me, had her second baby yesterday and is hoping to come home today. Can I go and help her at her place, or take the toddler home to my place for a few hours break during lockdown? From loving granny.

No, granny needs to stay away, her family needs to stay away from her. She is in the category where if she gets Covid-19 she could have a much harder ride and end up on a ventilator. What we need to do is keep her safe and away from the rest of her family because they may well be incubating the virus.

This is going to be really tough, I really hope her daughter has some other support.

If the granny is under 70?

Then she should become part of the household so go and live with them, and not be then connecting with any other people at all.

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre

Is it OK to go ahead with a house renovation project that is not the house we're living in, can the builder go there at a time where we aren't there?

The rules are really clear, building and construction is only considered an essential service if it's needed to maintain human health and safety at home and at work.

So a house renovation, I'm afraid does not count as maintaining human health and safety so, no.

Is it OK for my son to see his girlfriend, they've already been in contact to the lead-up to the lockdown?

It entirely depends where his girlfriend is and what her living conditions are, I would say no, because if she is living with other people, if everybody starts doing this then this means that these households are not little households anymore.

So she either moves in and stays with your household for that amount of time or they stay separated until lockdown is over.

What do I clean with?

What you're looking at is hypochlorite, which is the main active ingredient in bleach, activated hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, ethanol or bleach, 0.1 to 0.2 percent in water.

You can use methylated spirits as well so methylated spirits you would put like 7 parts of that to 3 parts water.

The important thing of this is that you don't just use a cloth and wipe it around, you actually have to spray surfaces and let it sit there for ten seconds to soak for that disinfectant to work. Once it's done that, then you can wipe.

Benzalkonium chloride, not as good as the others but most cleaning products that will say antiviral on them will work, but you need to spray for ten seconds.

People are flocking to trade on Facebook market places, is this wise? I read the virus can be transferred between people on surfaces.

What we don't thing we don't want is this connection between households. So, I'd much prefer you weren't doing that. But if you are going to do that kind thing, you need to be really, really, really careful. If it is something plastic or whatever, then it's going to have to sit somewhere for three to four days, give it a spray with disinfectant before it comes in the house.

What you do not want to be doing is transferring something from a potential household with exposure to your household if it doesn't have it and you do not want to be moving stuff from your household if you have it, to another household that doesn't. So please, be very mindful of that.

My children are in shared care of myself and their dad, we live probably 20km apart, he lives with a new partner. They intend to spend lockdown sharing the care of her kids with that dad who lives maybe 30km further on.

What we have to be very careful about is how many blended families end up being considered one household. What each household needs to be doing is limiting the number of connections to anybody else and so if there are children that are moving between two households, then we would consider that one household.

But if it's starting to get to three households, then that is becoming much more complicated. If any of those people connect with another household, then this whole things falls apart. So, they need to stay as tight a unit as possible.

Do it by Skype, do it by phone. If a household is five people and that household is connecting to another five people, if we have somebody in one of those households who does have Covid-19 and spreads it within that household you've gone from a little cluster of five to a little cluster of 10.

If that household is connecting to another household you'd then have a cluster of 15. If everybody starts doing that and there are little clusters of the virus than we will not have intensive care beds to care for those that need them.

If I isolate with my brother's house so that I'm not alone, can I go back to my house where no-one will be to feed the cat and other things?

Yes, that should be fine.

Can I go to my workplace, not open to public and I would be the only one there?

No, stay home. When you start making these little blurred lines, then more people will be out and about and more and more people will start having potential contact with others. The more we do this, the better we do this, the quicker we get this over.

At the moment we're thinking four weeks, if people start going, well the rules don't quite apply to me because I'm doing this, then you can add an extra two-to-three weeks. You stick to the rules and we get through this faster.

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