Autumn 2020 Virus update

00:26 12 March in Family Practice News

Covid 19 Virus
  The current news is mainly filled with the Covid 19 virus and its progress around the world. It has still not really arrived here in NZ, giving us a little time to prepare. 

As of this week NZ only has 5 confirmed cases. Given what has happened overseas it may still spread rapidly over the coming weeks. For most people it is a mild illness. It is hardest on those over 50 and those with heart or chest issues and diabetes. There is little treatment available except hospitalization if very unwell, so GP’s will not be able to offer a lot of treatment, those with colds should do as normal with the flu and stay home and rest until recovered.
All medical clinics in NZ are generally busy anyway, and an epidemic means we may not be able to see everyone with mild or moderate illness. If staff contract the virus and have to remain isolated, then many clinics will end up having to close for a time. For this reason we ask  anyone with ANY respiratory infection, to report in via phone first and not just walk in to the surgery, or just book an appointment without informing reception of your illness. This includes EVERYONE including children and non-travellers. Symptoms to report include, fever, sore throat, runny nose, cough. We may need assess you on the phone, in your car, in a separate room, or even outside. 
Those with confusion, shortness of breath, bloody or coloured phlegm, or severe wheeze should call for help as soon as possible.
If you have reason to believe you may need testing (see here for information) then please phone Healthline first 0800 358 5453 . Again  please do not just turn up with illness unannounced. 
Things may change as the epidemic unfolds in coming weeks eg dedicated virus clinics may appear 
The virus is spread like a common cold. Staying 1 metre from people renders you reasonably safe. Handwashing frequently with alcohol sanitiser or soap and water is the best defence. Also avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose. Masks are of little use and are only useful in Healthcare workers.