COVID-19 declared a pandemic

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now classified COVID-19 as a pandemic.

The WHO Director-General when announcing this decision noted “describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do”.

 The Minister of Health clearly reinforced this message stating this doesn’t change anything for New Zealand. He noted our Director-General of Health has been saying since January that COVID-19 is pandemic-like in all but name, and we have been working on that basis.

Border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases have all been put in place to minimise risk to those in New Zealand. It is important to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.

While we have 5 confirmed cases in New Zealand, it is expected we will have more. However the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low in New Zealand. This has not changed because of the reclassification to pandemic status. We all have a role to play in this.

A reminder about handwashing and good hygiene as well as ensuring people who are sick don’t come to school. It is also important for adults to be sensible about physical distance.

Support for parents’ conversations with their children

We have developed specific guidance for parents to assist them when talking to their children about coronavirus.

You will appreciate the importance of giving children factual, age-appropriate information about COVID-19 so that they can feel informed and in control. The guidance will support parents to have those conversations – Talking to children about coronavirus.

You may also have seen two very useful videos you could share with your parent community to help both parents and children better understand the virus:

  • Nanogirl video clip with a great explanation for kids about coronavirus
  • Watch the Prime Minister talk about novel coronavirus with Dr Michelle Dickinson and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, Juliet Gerrard,

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback