New Zealand public health advice and information
Click on this link to visit the New Zealand Ministry of Health COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) webpage.
Click on this link to visit the New Zealand Ministry of Health COVID-19: Vaccine planning webpage.
International information on the disease, situation reports and progress on COVID-19 vaccine development
Click on this link to visit the World Health Organisation coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic webpage.
How it began
In December 2019, clusters of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause were observed in Wuhan China. The cause of these cases was later confirmed to be a novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The associated disease was named COVID-19. Cases quickly spread around the world and COVID-19 was declared an official pandemic in March 2020. Since then, millions of infections and deaths have occurred worldwide.
How you get it
Like other respiratory viruses, the virus enters the body through the nose, throat, and eyes. It is most commonly transmitted from the airways of an infected person in droplets released through coughing, sneezing, and shouting. Less commonly, transmission occurs via the inhalation of fine aerosols containing the virus or through contact with contaminated surfaces (ref 1).
The symptoms associated with COVID-19 vary; some people have the disease but are asymptomatic (ie, show no symptoms) while others develop severe pneumonia or can even die. Common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and a loss of sense of smell. Less common symptoms include diarrhoea, headache, sore muscles, nausea, vomiting and confusion (ref 2,3).
Mass public health campaigns, including strict lockdowns, have been launched worldwide to curb the spread of COVID-19. Additional measures including border restrictions, mass testing and contact tracing, handwashing and mask use have helped control rising case numbers. The most effective way to control COVID-19 is through vaccination.
1. Meyerowitz EA, Richterman A, Gandhi RT, Sax PE. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A Review of Viral, Host, and Environmental Factors. Annals of internal medicine. 2020.
2. Chen N, Zhou M, Dong X, Qu J, Gong F, Han Y, et al. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. Lancet (London, England). 2020;395(10223):507-13.
3. Guan WJ, Ni ZY, Hu Y, Liang WH, Ou CQ, He JX, et al. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. The New England journal of medicine. 2020;382(18):1708-20.