Government reveals coronavirus public health campaign: Be Kind, wash your hands

The Government has launched its coronavirus COVID-19 public health campaign, calling on New Zealanders to "unite against the virus and slow its spread".

There are currently 12 confirmed cases of the virus in New Zealand, with four new cases recorded on Tuesday. In order to limit the number of infected patients, the Government has already introduced a number of measures, including travel restrictions, boosting funding for services like Healthline, and helping businesses pay for workers' sick leave.

However, despite these efforts, officials believe New Zealand will continue to see cases, at least sporadic ones. So far, there has been no recorded community transmission in Aotearoa.

To remind New Zealanders of what they can individually do to limit the spread of the virus, Health Minister Dr David Clark and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter revealed the Government's public health campaign on Wednesday.

"Now is the time for New Zealanders to come together, support each other and do the things that can help slow the spread of the virus," Clark said.  

With the branding "Unite against COVID-19", the campaign's website highlights several main "ways we're uniting against COVID-19". 

Those include: Be Kind, Wash and dry your hands, Financial support, Self-isolation, and Stay home if you're sick.

  • Be Kind: The website says "kindness is an incredibly powerful way to show you are united against COVID-19." It says people can make a difference by checking in on elderly or vulnerable people, looking after those needing help, dropping supplies to the sick, talking to friends, whānau and neighbours, and connecting with local clubs and societies.
  • Wash your hands: This section gives information about the proper way to wash your hands, how to use sanitiser and when people should wash their hands. The general advice is: "Wash often. Use soap. 20 seconds. Then dry. This kills the virus by bursting its  protective bubble.  Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean."
  • Financial support: The Government highlights how it is supporting businesses and workers in this section. Through its $12.1 billion economic package, the Government is introducing a wage subsidy scheme, leave and self-isolation support and business cash flow and tax measures.
  • Self-isolation: This section details how to self-isolate, including how to do it shared living arrangements, how to limit contact with housemates and tips if you live with children.
  • Stay home if you are sick: The final section notes that if people are sick with several symptoms, they shouldn't go to work. Those symptoms include a fever, a cough, shortness of breath, sneezing or a runny nose. 

The website also contains a range of other information for community groups, travellers and those who don't speak English.

On top of the COVID-19 campaign, the Government also announced that as part of this year's influenza vaccine campaign, it will be making an additional 400,000 vaccines available this year compared to the last. 

These vaccines will be available from GP clinics and some pharmacies for certain people, including those over 65, people who are pregnant, as well as young children with a history of severe respiratory illness. Healthcare workers will get a free vaccine from their employer. Those not in these groups are asked to wait until April 13 to get their vaccination.

"The Government is starting this year's flu vaccination programme early, and is prioritising jabs for the New Zealanders who are most at risk," Clark said.

While the flu vaccine won't protect people from coronavirus COVID-19, it keeps pressure on New Zealand's health services down.

 "Getting your vaccine will reduce your chances of catching the flu, and improve our ability to manage higher demand at hospitals from COVID-19," said Clark.

"It's critical that we do all we can to prevent a bad flu season this year. The flu causes significant strain on our health system and more people vaccinating against flu will ensure health services are there for those who need them most."