About COVID-19

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that can cause pneumonia. Know the symptoms and call your GP, Student Health or Healthline if you think you have been exposed.

This page was last updated on 9 June 2020.

Coronaviruses are a large and diverse family of viruses that originate in animals but are known to infect people and cause respiratory illness. Coronaviruses include the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 has spread widely throughout the world, leading the World Health Organisation to announce a pandemic in March 2020.

COVID-19 in New Zealand

On the Government’s four-stage alert level messaging system, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 1 at 11:59pm on Monday 8 June. There are no active cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

The University campuses are open, though courses are still being delivered online for the remainder of Trimester 1.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of a range of other illnesses such as influenza and the common cold. They include:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing.

Difficulty breathing can be a sign of pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention. Current World Health Organisation assessments suggest that the time between contracting the virus and seeing symptoms of the virus varies between 1–12.5 days, with median estimates of 5–6 days between infection and symptoms.

The incubation period for the virus is considered to be 14 days. This means if you have not had symptoms within 14 days after possible exposure, you are unlikely to have the virus.

The Ministry of Health has detailed health information.

How to protect yourself and others

Information to date indicates that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. This means that when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, they may generate droplets which settle on surrounding surfaces.

The key to keeping yourself safe is practising good hygiene and hand-washing techniques, including:

  • staying at home if you are unwell
  • washing hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or hand sanitiser
  • coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue, rather than your hands, and putting the used tissue straight into a lined bin and washing your hands
  • avoiding close contact with anyone who has symptoms e.g. fever, difficulty breathing or a cough.

If you are concerned you might have symptoms of COVID-19, seek medical advice. Students are asked to contact Student Health by phone (not in person) on +64 4 463 5308 during business hours. You can also call your GP, or the dedicated Ministry of Health COVID-19 line 0800 358 5453, or from a mobile +64 9 358 5453.

If you have been told to self-isolate by Healthline or your GP (other than a Student Health GP), register with our COVID-19 Contact Centre on 0800 04 04 04 so we can provide appropriate support if required.

Face masks

Hand-washing, good hygiene, and good cough catching are more effective than face masks for stopping the spread of COVID-19. The Ministry of Health notes that face masks aren’t required for general use, and that there is no good evidence that their use prevents the spread of disease.

If you wish to use a face mask, the University supports your right to do this. We also want to note that in many cultures, face masks are worn by people routinely as a courtesy to those around them and to guard against pollution and pollen.