Long-term health conditions

Living with long-term health conditions in the time of COVID-19

We have all experienced some stressful times and living with a long-term health condition may be adding to your concerns. You can find advice here that will help you get through this tough time.

Get connected and stay safe


Now that we’re at Alert Level 1 life returns to being close to normal. Most restrictions have been lifted. You can:

  • do what you like and go wherever you like
  • return to work, school, church, sport and travelling around New Zealand without any restrictions
  • get together with as many people as you want.

However, our borders remain closed to everyone but New Zealand citizens returning home. Anyone entering the country will go into managed isolation or quarantine for 14 days.

Keep track

Keep a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. This will help with rapid contact tracing if it is required.

You can download the NZ Covid Tracer app or simply make a note of where you’ve been.

Safety tips for Alert Level 1

Remember:

  • If you’re sick, stay home.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Sneeze or cough into your elbow.

If you have symptoms of cold or flu call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

If you have:

  • any COVID-19 symptoms
  • been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case
  • recently arrived from overseas
  • been in contact with someone who has travelled overseas eg, Customs and Immigration staff, staff at quarantine/isolation facilities
  • worked on an international aircraft or ship
  • cleaned at an international airport or maritime port in areas visited by international arrivals

you should get assessed for COVID-19. To discuss getting an assessment call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

Visit the Ministry of Health’s website for more information about COVID-19 assessment and testing.

Managing stress and distress


It’s normal to feel stressed and anxious and there is some advice on how to manage this here.

Seek out accurate, reliable and up-to-date information from trusted sources backed by experts. We’ve provided links to some of these key agencies at the end of this page. 

There are also lots of new apps, online groups, and community services popping up all the time, so it’s a good time to try something new and find the support that works for you.

  • Try The Journal, it’s a free, personalised programme to help you manage anxiety or depression and is a helpful tool for anyone having a tough time. You’ll be guided by a team of experts through lifestyle and problem solving skills to help you stay positive.
  • Try the new Mentemia app from All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan.
  • The health journal app Melon provides a health journal, resources and self-awareness tools to help manage your emotional wellbeing.
  • There’s also an eTherapy programme called Staying on Track that teaches practical strategies to cope with the stress and disruption to everyday life.

Be prepared and make a plan


If you haven’t already make a plan for how you manage your health needs including appointments and prescriptions then communicate this with your whānau and wider support network. Make sure they know what you need, it’s okay to ask for help. Making a plan will make you feel more confident and in control which will also help you manage stress.

Community pharmacists are required to limit dispensing of all funded medicines to one month's supply (or three months for oral contraceptives). Stay up-to-date with information from Pharmac.

Stay in touch with your health professionals


Please contact your local GP or specialist to help you manage your health needs.

  • Health and medical facilities are open. This includes healthcare services, such as Healthline, GPs, cancer services, disability, and aged support services.
  • If you’re anxious to attend in person your doctor might offer a phone or videoconference consultation rather than see you in person, so give them a call or send them an email first.
  • Contact one of the organisations at the end of this page as they have specific advice for a range of health conditions.
  • If you are severely unwell, for example having trouble breathing, dial 111.

If you have symptoms of cold or flu call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

If you have:

  • any COVID-19 symptoms
  • been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case
  • recently arrived from overseas
  • been in contact with someone who has travelled overseas eg, Customs and Immigration staff, staff at quarantine/isolation facilities
  • worked on an international aircraft or ship
  • cleaned at an international airport or maritime port in areas visited by international arrivals

you should get assessed for COVID-19. To discuss getting an assessment call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor.

Visit the Ministry of Health’s website for more information about COVID-19 assessment and testing.

If you need extra support or to speak to someone

Free call or text 1737 anytime of the day or night to talk with a trained counsellor.

Keep moving, eat well, sleep better


You can do some key things to support your physical and mental wellbeing.

  • Healthy eating is about choosing a variety of healthy food including lots of vegetables and fruit, whole grains, legumes, pulses, low-fat dairy and nuts. Try and avoid foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fats. Drinking plenty of water also helps you feel good. For some new whānau recipe ideas visit the Healthy Kids website.
  • Getting enough sleep is important for your overall wellbeing. Aim for 7 to 8 hours and try to maintain consistent bed and wake up times. Including some physical activity in your day can help promote good quality sleep.
  • Regular physical activity is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Aim to get outside and move your body every day. It might help if you schedule in some activity at a similar time each day. Remember that any physical activity is better than none. Try and find something that you enjoy and don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Avoid using unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing – as well as your health condition.
  • The Unite against COVID-19 website has some great advice on looking after your mental wellbeing.

Reliable, accurate and up-to-date information


To ensure you have the best advice, we’ve pulled together a range of organisations to support you and your whānauThese organisations work in your community and can provide more detailed information for a range of health conditions.

Download the NZ COVID Tracer app


Download available here: https://tracing.covid19.govt.nz

Here’s how you can help support contact tracing

  • Sign up today.
  • Share your up-to-date contact information.
  • Scan NZ COVID Tracer posters to keep track of where you’ve been.
  • Ask your whānau, friends and workmates to join in.

Don't have a smartphone? You can still register online to share your latest contact information.

For more information, head to https://tracing.covid19.govt.nz

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