A – Z on COVID-19 for students

News News & events

03 Apr 2020


Ara has activated its Incident Management Team to manage Ara’s response to the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation and ensure preparations are in place for future developments. Our experts and leaders from across the organisation are now meeting regularly via remote technology.


Be mindful of the need to protect vulnerable community members, including the elderly, who have a particularly high risk of contracting COVID-19. Be very strict with personal hygiene, be kind and be willing to assist with errands, while maintaining a 2-metre distance at all times.


COVID-19 is a new type of contagious coronavirus which is spread from person-person via infected droplets left on surfaces or travelling through the air.  The main symptoms include cough, a fever above 38 degrees, fatigue and shortness of breath.  Many people will only experience mild symptoms and the vast majority recover but others can become seriously ill and experience severe complications such as pneumonia. There have been deaths, mostly with older people and those with pre-existing health conditions.
For more information visit covid19.govt.nz/


Droplet spread is the way the virus is transmitted from person to person. Droplets containing the virus are released during coughing and sneezing, and being too large to stay in the air for long, they quickly settle on surrounding surfaces. The virus can be then be transmitted from objects or surfaces via people touching their mouths, noses or eyes. This is why it is really important to regularly wash and thoroughly dry your hands and cough into your elbow.


Employment matters are causing some concerns for people in regards to job security, sick leave entitlement and the practicalities of working from home. See this New Zealand Herald article for details of the Government’s economic support package for New Zealanders.


Facemasks are currently being used by many people in an effort to protect themselves and others from contracting and transmitting the virus. The World Health Organisation [WHO] advises that for most people face masks are not necessary. However, for people with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, WHO states that face masks may be beneficial in reducing the spread of infection.


Global spread of the virus is extensive and most countries and territories now have cases of COVID-19. Some governments are doing better than others to contain and eliminate the virus; one of these countries is New Zealand.  The government has put very strict measures in place to protect the community from COVID-19 and has an active and robust pandemic plan and COVID-19 Alert System – which is now set at Level 4 – Eliminate.


Handwashing is the key to prevent transmission of the disease and should be practiced frequently and thoroughly. The Ministry of Health (MOH) recommends washing hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds and drying with towel/paper towel for 20 seconds. See this WHO short video on the recommended handwashing technique.

Alcohol based hand sanitiser is a good substitute if you are unable to wash your hands.  Ensure the sanitiser has an alcohol content of above 60% to ensure effective disinfection.


Influenza vaccination programs began on 18 March with priority groups such as people with certain pre-existing diseases, pregnant women, over 65s and health-care workers the first to receive the vaccine. Flu vaccination is a good way to elevate protection in the community and freeing healthcare capacity for COVID-19 cases. During Ara’s Health Centre closure, students can receive the vaccine from Moorhouse Medical Centre by calling (03) 365 7900. For information on influenza and the vaccination programme, visit: www.health.govt.nz


Judgement, clinical, is ongoing for doctors and nurses when deciding who to test for COVID-19, particularly as the testing criteria are broadening due to community spread. Many people who would not have fitted the initial testing criteria; namely, a history of travel within previous 14 days and contact with confirmed, probable or suspected cases, will be now tested, depending on clinical assessment.

Keep cup

Keep cup Unless ‘keep cups’ have been scrupulously cleaned in hot soapy water immediately prior to attending the café, and the customer and barista both have freshly washed hands, there is an infection risk so single use, disposable coffee cups are better for now.


Laboratory testing of swabs taken by nursing and medical staff is gaining pace, with more screening being performed each day. New Zealand laboratories do have the capacity to meet the demand for screening, which is fortunate as The WHO has recently advised countries to ‘test, test, test’ and this will be seen in New Zealand over the coming weeks.

Ministry of Health

Ministry of Health website is the recommended source of credible, consistent and reliable, up to date information on all aspects of COVID-19. Visit: www.moh.govt.nz


No need to panic that essential supplies will run out during lockdown. The government has provided assurance that the goods supply chain will continue uninterrupted.


Overwhelming information-supply is creating mental fatigue for many people. There is so much media coverage of COVID-19, with a lot of it alarmist and sensationalist. Be a critical reader and ensure you access reputable, factual sources, and remember to set aside time for other activities.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to masks, goggles, gloves and gowns worn by health care workers when assessing and caring for possible and confirmed COVID-19 cases. PPE can also be worn in non-health care settings – i.e when self-isolating at home with person who is confirmed to have the virus.  For more information on PPE, visit www.health.govt.nz


Quarantine is slightly different to self-isolation. It is a method of isolation enforced or advised by medical authorities for people who may have been in contact with a communicable disease.


Register with Health Line if you are required to self-isolate. Call on: 0800 3585453 or you can register online.

Stay home, save lives

Stay home, save lives - From Wednesday 25 March, for a period of 4 weeks, New Zealand will be in lockdown; a measure under Level 4 COVID-19 Alert System – Eliminate.

-New Zealanders are required to stay at home and stay in their ‘bubble’ (contact confined to the people they live with) to prevent transmission of the disease.

-All but essential businesses are closed and where possible, workers are asked to work from home.

-Essential and emergency services will continue – supermarkets, pharmacies, health care facilities, and Police, Fire and Ambulance.

-You are permitted to leave your home and exercise daily – i.e walk or bike ride – but you must stay local and at a distance of 2 metres from any other people.

-If you are living with somebody who is a confirmed case of COVID-19, you will have to self-isolate and stay at home for a period of 14 days. This means you must not visit the essential services that remain open.

For more information, visit: www.health.govt.nz


Travel restrictions are now in place under lockdown and affect all New Zealanders with plans to travel or return from overseas. See this link for important information.


Uncertainty and anxiety are normal feelings in response to the pandemic.To help alleviate these feelings, ensure you access information from credible sources, talk through any fears with your family and friends and take control of what you can (i.e. maintain a balanced diet, strict hand hygiene and stick with your normal routine as much as possible).


Vaccines for COVID-19are in the early stages of research and development. The WHO reports that is likely they will not be available for at least 12- 18 months. In the meantime, the best way to reduce community transmission of the disease is through strict hygiene measures and social distancing.


Wellbeing is a hugely important factor in the current situation, both psychologically and physically. Remember the evidenced-based ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’: Connect, Give, Take Notice, Be Active and Keep Learning.

If you are struggling and need professional support, ring ahead to your GP/Practice Nurse for advice or/and contact dedicated health lines – i.e. 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor, Youth line 0800 376 633, Anxiety NZ 0800 269 4389 – there are many other supports line and websites too.


Xtra kindness, compassion, love and community spirit will get us through this challenging and extraordinary time. We are all in it together. Look out for, and support, your colleagues, friends, family and neighbours – but stay in your bubble! Use non-physical forms of contact – phone, email and social media.


Zzzz It’s true - sleep really is the best medicine! Rest when you need to, keep to your regular sleep routine and try not to spend evenings looking at the sometimes-sensationalist media stories immediately before you go to sleep. Wind down slowly, have a warm bath or shower, read something uplifting and distracting or listen to a meditation and relaxation app.