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March 5, 2020

Using Medplus during COVID 19

Please help us to be able to continue to provide medical services by following these requests. If our staff become unwell, we will be limited in the services we provide, so please help us to keep our staff safe. These easy measures will also protect other patients visiting the centre.

Coronavirus or COVID 19 - what we know so far.

Whilst COVID 19 is highly contagious, not everyone exposed will get it, and the majority of those who get it will have a mild case. It seems, so far, not to have affected children, but those who get most sick with it are older adults with other health issues.

80% or more get a mild version, with mild coryzal symptoms (more like a cough and cold). Up to 20% get a lower respiratory tract infection (pneumonia) and have symptoms like cough, shortness of breath and fever. Those who do get more unwell tend to do so in week 2. A few of them will go on to become very septic and to develop ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). About 10% of confirmed cases require intensive care in hospital.

Key features of COVID 19 are fever (98%), non-productive dry cough (70%), shortness of breath (63%) and fatigue (70%). Unlike influenza, not many people get muscle pains (11%) or joint pains (2%). Other less common symptoms include diarrhoea and nausea (10%) and runny nose (6%). This is slightly different from the flu, where fever, achy bodies, sore throat and runny nose are more common.

Unfortunately, there are case reports of transmission of the virus up to 48 hours prior to symptoms developing.

COVID 19 Advice

The most important advice we can give you is not to panic. There has been some mass hysteria as the first case in NZ was documented, however, we have yet to discover if this infection will impact us any more than influenza does.

To prevent your chances of catching COVID 19, practice exceptional hand hygiene. Wash your hands repeatedly throughout the day, and when you have made contact with anyone else. Hand sanitiser is a second best if available.

If you do have any sort of respiratory infection, please stay at home. We know that COVID 19 is commonly a co-infection with another virus – so you are better isolating yourself when sick. There is a climate of fear at the moment, and now is the time to put into practice what we have always advised with viral infections – keep them to yourself. Your co – workers, friends and neighbours would much prefer that you do cancel engagements.

Large groups make spread more likely. Avoid social interactions with those who are unwell.

We strongly suggest influenza vaccination to all those over 65 years of age, and all those with other medical issues. The vaccine will not protect against COVID 19 but will hopefully reduce your chances of getting a similar type infection, avoiding diagnostic confusion. Also, with possible pressure on intensive care beds it will be much better to get protection against other infections that can cause significant illness. We anticipate that supplies of the flu vaccination will reach us in early April. Watch our website or newsletters for updates.

There is no current treatment that works – only supportive measures – like ventilation for ARDS. Drugs like Tamiflu DO NOT help. Because COVID 19 is a viral infection, antibiotics DO NOT help.

You do not need to stockpile medication; however, it is sensible to ensure your supplies do not run out. Ask for a new prescription about 1-2 weeks before your current supplies dry up. It is worth keeping some paracetamol and ibuprofen (if you can take it) at home in case you develop a fever.

Asthmatics should have a good supply of their inhalers and appropriate spacer devices if required. Asthmatics should be thinking about using their preventers if not on them already – try to optimise lung function before infection strikes.

Masks are not of use to you in normal everyday life if you are well. Most masks do not stop you from inhaling viruses. Masks are only useful if you are unwell to protect those around you, although you should be staying at home if this is the case. We use masks only to protect well staff from sick patients.

Follow Ministry of Health advice regarding travel safety. Be aware of rules around quarantine if you do travel overseas.

The Healthline number for all COVID 19 enquiries is 0800 358 5453

For up to date information go to