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Published Wednesday 18 Mar 2020

So are we - that's why we are taking it very seriously, and preparing for possible illness in our community.

We now have 28 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in New Zealand. There are no cases in Wairarapa. There are three cases isolated in Wellington.

In Wairarapa, we are working closely with Primary Care, Regional Public Health and Aged Residential Care facilities to plan our response, in preparation for sickness in the event we do see spread here. In the meantime, we need to keep our medical staff well, in order to keep our community well, and we need your help.

Keeping individuals, families and our communities safe and healthy requires US ALL to be well, stay well, and protect our most vulnerable. Over 65 year olds, immuno-compromised people and those with pre existing medical conditions are most at risk.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are cough, fever and shortness of breath. Most cases of coronavirus will require no treatment other than rest, drinking plenty of fluids and staying away from other people to minimise risk of infecting them too. For most people, coronavirus would feel like a cold or a mild flu.

For our most at risk people, coronavirus may be more severe. It is important we do all we can to protect them.

Overseas travellers from everywhere except the Pacific need to self isolate for 14 days on coming into New Zealand. This is not an option, it is what needs to happen to protect our communities. Do this! There is information on what this means on the Ministry of Health website. If you are returning from the Pacific, you need to self isolate if you are unwell.

What can you do if you are sick?
The best thing you can do, is remember that when it comes to COVID-19, sharing is NOT caring. The old Kiwi "She'll be right, mate" attitude is not OK today. In COVID-19 times, we celebrate Man Flu practice... stay home, look after yourself well, no school, no work, no company until you are well. Don't visit people, in fact, stay 2m away from everyone. No hugs, kisses, hongis. Don't share a bed, food, cups, or utensils. Cough and sneeze into your arm not your hands, blow your nose into tissues and throw them away straight away into a closed bin. We don't want those bugs to spread.

Most people won't need medical intervention and will be fine at home but if you need advice on managing your illness PHONE your GP (don't go in) or, if you think it might be COVID-19, call freephone COVID Healthline 0800 358 5453

What can you do if you are well?
Wash your hands well and regularly with soap - this prevents you picking up germs from surfaces you touch.
Check in on your friends and family.
Think about how you might cope if you or someone who depends on you gets sick - can you work from home?
Make sure the people around you understand what it takes to stop coronavirus spreading.

And leave some stuff in the supermarket for the next person!
Stay well, Wairarapa.