Coronavirus outbreak: What to do if you think you have been exposed to the deadly virus

Coronavirus COVID-19 has reached New Zealand with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirming the first case on Friday.

A 60-year-old New Zealand citizen called the coronavirus Healthline after becoming ill following a trip to Iran. 

On Friday Health Minister David Clark also confirmed the news, saying both the patient and health authorities followed the correct steps. 

Clark said they weren't expecting a widespread outbreak. 

The Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday: 

"Anyone who was on the final leg of the flight, Emirates EK450 arriving Auckland on Wednesday 26 February, and is concerned should contact the COVID-19 Healthline number 0800 358 5453." 

Now the virus is here what should Kiwis do if they think they have come into with someone who is infected? 

How it spreads

Like many common viruses coronavirus is transmitted from person-to-person. It can be transmitted in droplets by coughing or sneezing. 

What to do if you may have been exposed

The MoH website says people returning from Iran and China or who may have been exposed to the virus should self-isolate. 

  • If you returned from mainland China or Iran in the last 14 days, then you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of departure.
  • If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact.

Isolation should be for at least 14 days and more information is available here

How to get help

People who are concerned they have been exposed to coronavirus should also call the dedicated 24-hour free Healthline on 0800 358 5453 as soon as they think they have symptoms. 

People who are self-isolating should also call to register that they are. 


The virus appears to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. After a week, patients will likely experience shortness of breath and may require hospitalisation.

Other symptoms include:

  • headache

  • muscle pain

  • high temperature

  • fatigue

  • shortness of breath, breathing difficulties

  • cough.

According to the World Health Organisation, symptoms may only start showing up to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. New Zealand is currently using 14 days as its incubation period, in which exposed individuals will be quarantined.


There is currently no treatment for coronavirus, although vaccines are being made. Medical care is usually successful in treating people who catch the virus.   

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the virus was airborne. This is yet to be confirmed. The article has been amended.