Coronavirus: Answering Kiwis' most-Googled COVID-19 questions

The coronavirus pandemic truly is a once-in-a-generation occurrence, and has a variety of impacts on our lives - be it our health, our finances, career prospects, dreams, or travel plans.
The coronavirus pandemic truly is a once-in-a-generation occurrence, and has a variety of impacts on our lives - be it our health, our finances, career prospects, dreams, or travel plans. Photo credit: Getty Images

As COVID-19 spreads across the globe and rapidly increases its influence in New Zealand, it makes sense that Kiwis feel a little uncertain.

The coronavirus pandemic truly is a once-in-a-generation occurrence, and has a variety of impacts on our lives - be it our health, our finances, career prospects, dreams, or travel plans.

As we scramble to work out what the impacts of COVID-19 will be, many of us have been taking to Google to ask what certain things mean, or whether we should take certain actions.

So we compiled a list of some of your most-Googled questions, and have endeavoured to answer them the best we can.

Should I get tested for coronavirus?

If you are worried you may have some of the symptoms of COVID-19, you should first call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. The operators will be able to help you identify whether a coronavirus test is the appropriate next step.

The symptoms you need to look out for in particular are fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. The Ministry of Health is also looking into claims a loss of smell or taste may be an early indicator of the virus.

Those who have recently returned to New Zealand from overseas and fall sick are also urged to call Healthline immediately.

If you don't have any symptoms, the advice from Ministry of Health officials remains the same: keep up good hygiene practices and isolate yourself from those outside your immediate household.

Should I change my KiwiSaver fund?

This is a tricky one with no definitive right answer. However, financial experts say there are general rules you should abide by.

If you're not planning on accessing your KiwiSaver funds to buy your first home or retire within the next five years, it is recommended you resist the temptation to change it to conservative now.

This is because the markets are expected to bounce back in this period, meaning any funds you've lost in the economic downturn brought on by coronavirus will likely be earned back.

"Having ridden a growth fund down - and we may have to ride it further yet - you want to be in a growth fund to ride it back up again," financial expert Martin Hawes told Newshub.

However, if you are planning on accessing funds within a five-year period, most banks recommend scaling back to a moderate or conservative fund - the same advice they gave even before COVID-19.

How many coronavirus cases are there?

In New Zealand as of 6pm on March 24, there are 155 confirmed cases of coronavirus - including 13 probable cases that are counted as confirmed.

Twelve cases have recovered, while six people are currently in hospital in a stable condition. No one in New Zealand has died of COVID-19 yet.

Around the world, there are 335,000 cases and more than 14,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

What does social isolation actually mean?

Self-isolation is a precautionary measure designed to prevent those around you contracting COVID-19. It requires you to avoid close contact with others as much as possible.

The Ministry of Health provides plenty of advice about how to do this effectively on their website.

Here are the most important instructions:

  • Limit your contact with people other than the family members/companions you live with.
  • Avoid having visitors to your home, but it is okay for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food and supplies.
  • Minimise close contact with those in your home by avoiding situations where you have face-to-face contact closer than one metre for more than 15 minutes.
  • Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, pillows or other items with other people in your home.
  • After using such items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water, place them in the dishwasher for cleaning or wash them in your washing machine.

Where do I get tested for coronavirus near me?

Some drive-through hubs for coronavirus testing have started to pop-up in New Zealand.

Testing centres have been set up in Auckland, Canterbury and Waikato with others around the country to follow. Auckland testing centres, in particular, have been busy after opening up on Saturday.

It is important to note that only those who are sick are tested.

The Ministry of Health urges anyone who thinks they might benefit from a visit to a testing centre to call Healthline and talk through their symptoms first.

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