Coronavirus: How to stay safe if you're immunocompromised amid COVID-19 pandemic

People who are immunocompromised or elderly are at significantly higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are extra steps they can take to stay safe. 

New Zealand currently has eight cases of coronavirus and numerous businesses have told people to work from home as a precaution.

Anyone arriving in New Zealand from overseas must also self isolate for 14 days, excluding people coming from small Pacific islands with no confirmed virus cases.

The Ministry of Health is advising a number of measures to stay safe, including regular hand washing, for at least 20 seconds, and covering coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues. 

However, the ministry says people who are immunocompromised or elderly should be taking extra steps to keep themselves safe during the outbreak. 

"People with underlying medical conditions, such as a compromised immune system, liver disease, cancer, kidney disease, heart disease and diabetes mellitus, need to take more precautions to protect themselves against all infections, including COVID-19."

For immunocompromised people, the ministry suggests not staying in the same house as someone who is self-isolating and staying at least two metres away from anyone who is unwell. 

Additional measures include wearing a mask, but only if your healthcare provider recommends it. 

It also warned anyone on immunosuppressive drugs to continue taking them unless they have permission to stop from a GP or a specialist. 

People who aren’t immunocompromised are also being urged to take extra care around vulnerable people by staying at home when sick, regularly washing hands, and covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing. 

There are 94,565 active cases of coronavirus globally and 7100 deaths. Around 78,326 have recovered from the virus so far.