25 Mar 2020

Covid-19: New Zealand's most Googled questions answered

7:09 pm on 25 March 2020

As Covid-19 spreads around the world, it can be daunting keeping up with the information. For RNZ, our responsibility is to give you verified, up to the minute, trustworthy information to help you make decisions about your lives and your health. We'll also be asking questions of officials and decision makers about how they're responding to the virus. Our aim is to keep you informed.

New Zealanders are turning to Google asking what isolation means, whether they should make changes to their Kiwisaver, and where they can get tested for Covid-19.

Here we compile a list of the top searches over the past week relating to Covid-19 and self-isolation, using information from official sources.

Young woman spending a relaxing day at home lying on her back on the bed reading a message on her mobile phone

Photo: 123rf

How many coronavirus cases are there in New Zealand?

As of 3pm on Wednesday, New Zealand has 205 cases of Covid-19, according to the Ministry of Health. This includes three probable cases.

What does self-isolation mean?

As of 11.59pm tonight, everyone in New Zealand must stay home. Choose who you will isolate with and stick with them for the isolation period.

Isolation means staying home, mixing with only those in your household. Leaving the house is allowed for essential items, walks and exercise, and working if you're an essential service. But for all these things, people must keep a distance of 2 metres from others.

As Siouxsie Wiles said: "You are in a bubble... our own household is our bubble and you need to stay in your bubble and if you go out of your bubble you're going to pop that bubble and that's going to put us all at risk."

What should I buy before going into isolation?

Supermarkets, pharmacies, service stations, banks, and dairies will remain open during the isolation period. You do not need to stock up on food or toiletries, but it's a good idea to organise any repeat prescriptions you need.

Liquor stores will close, unless they're in a licensing trust area. Cafes and restaurants will also be closed. Artisan supermarkets like Moore Wilson's market store in Wellington and Auckland's Farro stores will remain open.

If you're planning to finish that deck, remember hardware stores will not be open to the general public during the isolation period. Stores like The Warehouse will also be closed, so it's also good idea, if you have children, to make sure they have some extra things to keep them occupied in isolation.

See all RNZ coverage of Covid-19

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

This one has been the same message from the start - call Healthline, which now has a dedicated number for calls related to Covid-19: 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international numbers).

Or, call your local GP. Under no circumstances should you walk into your GP clinic or a hospital if you think you might have Covid-19 without calling first.

If you cannot get through to your doctor or Healthline and are having a medical emergency - like extra trouble breathing, dial 111. The police said the emergency line came under major pressure on Tuesday and have asked that the public only dial 111 in an emergency or life-threatening situation.

Where can I get tested for coronavirus near me?

If your doctor believes you meet the criteria for testing, clinics have been set up around the country to run tests for Covid-19.

Many centres have local testing stations set up to test people on site, and some do not require referrals. These community-based assessment centres (CBAC) are designed to ease the burden on general practices and emergency departments, and protect healthcare workers.

For drive-in clinics, people are advised to check that their symptoms meet testing criteria first and avoid arriving unannounced if they are acutely unwell.

Northland has centres set up in Whangārei, Kaitaia, Kerikeri, Kawakawa, Kaipara and Rawene. One in Dargaville is opening on Wednesday.

Auckland has five testing sites across the city, including St Lukes White Cross, Airport Oaks in Māngere, Henderson White Cross and Shorecare Northcross in Albany.

The Bay of Plenty has a drive-thru testing centre at the Tauranga Racecourse. There are also sites in Whakatāne, Greerton, Waihi Beach, Te Kaha and Murupara.

Waikato has walk-in testing centres available at the Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton and Tokoroa Hospital. More are planned for Huntly and Ngāruawāhia.

Hawke's Bay has a testing site in Hastings.

Whanganui has walk-in sites at Whanganui Hospital, Gonville Health and Te Oranganui.

MidCentral has sites in the Tararua, Horowhenua, Manawatū, Palmerston North and Ōtaki regions.

Greater Wellington has referral-only testing clinics are set up in Strathmore, Kilbirnie and at Wellington Hospital.

Nelson is testing people in the former Suburban Club building.

Canterbury has set up a referral-only testing centre at Christchurch Hospital.

Southland has referral-only sites for assessment and testing in Dunedin and Invercargill, and a third is being set up in Queenstown.

Should I change my Kiwisaver fund?

That all depends on when you want to access your Kiwisaver.

Many people will have noticed a drop in their Kiwisaver balances - some of thousands of dollars, which can be unnerving. According to Westpac, markets have gone backwards because investors are unsure how Covid-19 will affect the global economy in the short term. But the good news is that over the long term, markets generally recover. This was the case after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, but the recovery took several years.

If you switch funds now, you may avoid further losses in the short term, but you also risk missing out on any market recovery.

"The main thing is to choose the right fund for your life stage, adapted to your tolerance of investment risk, and then stick with it," Westpac said in an email to customers this week.

"Remember, investing is about the time you spend in the market, rather than trying to time the market for a recovery."

Should I be worried about coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a public health pandemic unlike anything else in our lifetimes. You should take this seriously but try not to panic.

Do everything you can to protect yourself and other people. This means keeping two metres away from people in public, washing your hands, and remaining in your isolation bubble for as long as we're at Level 4.

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