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Covid-19 Precautions.

 

Unfortunately, the incidence of Covid-19 in our communities is probably higher now (December 2022) than it has ever been with the recent surge in case numbers. Fortunately though, to counter this, the recent strains of the disease are less severe than some of the earlier variants.  This note is an informal discussion on how to deal with the disease, especially for elderly or compromised people, and does not represent official government policy unless specifically stated.

The following steps should be taken to minimise the risk of acquiring Covid, or, if you do contract the disease, to minimise the severity of the illness reduce the risk of hospilisation. Note that time is important, as the test, report, and medicate phases should all be done within 3 days of the symptoms first appearing in order for the medication to be effective.

  1. Precautions:  Frequent thorough hand washing, and wearing a mask especially in higher risk areas.
  2. Inoculations: Make sure you have had all the inoculations you are entiteld to.
  3. Test: As soon as you notice symptoms, have a RAT test done, either self-administered, by your GP,  or at a Covid Community Centre. 
  4. Report: If your test was self-administered report the result at www.covid19.govt.nz or by phone to 0800 222 478 (choose option 3).
  5. Medicate:  If you have reported your positive result your GP will get in touch with you to arrange anti-viral medication to aid in your recovery and reduce your risk of hospitalisation.
  6. Self Isolate: The official isolation period is for 7 days from the time symptoms first appeared, or when you no longer have symptoms, whichever is later.
  7. Leave isolation:  You are free to resume normal living.

 

The old precautions against acquiring Covid-19 still work well.  Frequent thorough hand washing is still good.  The use of masks gives protection, particularly in indoor gatherings. The official guidelines require that mask wearing is only required in medical situations (hospitals, doctors, medical laboratories, pharmacies).  However, you should not feel embarrassed about wearing a mask in other situations where you feel uncomfortable.  This includes at your local Probus club meetings and functions, where your actions are fully understood and respected.

Make sure that you have had all the Covid-19 injections that you are entitled to.  Most people are entitled to two primary jabs and two booster jabs.  However, high risk and elderly people are entitled to a third primary injection with a doctor’s prescription. These will lower your chances of contracting the disease and will also help reduce the severity once you have it, and reduce the risk of requiring hospitalisation.

The other precaution that can be taken is to have a RAT test kit available in your home so that, as soon as you notice any symptoms you can check whether you have contracted the disease.  The symptoms include any cold or flu-like symptoms, sore throat, or shortness of breath.  The RAT test is a simple test that can easily be done on yourself and provides a result within 15 minutes.  Although not as reliable as the older test it is still a good indicator of Covid infection.  RAT test kits are available at any pharmacy at very modest prices, with prices down as low as around $3 for a single test kit, and $14 for a five-test kit.

It is important that a RAT test is done as soon as you notice any symptoms because the effectiveness of future medication depends on it being taken within three days of the onset of symptoms.  If you do not already have a test kit available to you at home you can get someone to buy one for you, or you can get tested at most GP’s, or at official community test centres.  The nearest test centre for Hobsonville people is at 7-9 Westgate Drive, Westgate.

Once your RAT test has shown positive you should officially register your test result online at www.covid19.govt.nz or by phone to 0800 222 478 (choose option 3). Many people are not bothering to register their positive test result, but it is important, particularly if you require medication. Once you have registered the test the Covid Centre will contact your GP, and they will then arrange anti-viral medication to help recovery.  This medication is free and includes free delivery by courier to your home address.  The medication will treat the disease and will lower the risk of requiring hospital treatment.  If you have not been contacted within 24 hours of registering, you should get in touch with your GP yourself.

The official requirement is to self-isolate for a period of seven days or until your symptoms disappear, whichever is the later.  You are then free to integrate into your community again without the necessity for another test.  However, it might be a good idea to confirm that you no longer have Covid with further RAT tests.