COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

COVID-19 is impacting our services - but we are still here for you, New Zealand. Together, we will get through this. 

What you need to know: 

  • We're taking a phased approach to manage how we deliver our services and provide support to whānau during Level 2.
  • We're still here for you. You can text or call your Plunket nurse, PlunketLine is available 24/7 on 0800 933 922, and we're working on alternative ways to support our families at this time. 
  • COVID-19 symptoms are: a cough, high temperature (fever), and difficulty breathing. 
  • Protect your family and others by: staying home, physical distancing (keep a two-metre distance from other people if you're sick, or if you're out for a walk or at the supermarket), cleaning and disinfecting regularly touched surfaces (like door handles or bench tops), sneezing or coughing into your elbow, and regular hand washing with soap. 
  • If you or your family have COVID-19 symptoms, call 0800 358 5453 (Healthline's specialist COVID-19 number) or your GP - and stay home. 
  • Read more specific advice for families on the Government's website

Different resources and help available to parents and caregivers 

  • PlunketLine - 0800 933 922: Our free, 24/7 parenting and child health helpline is here for you.
  • HealthLine - 0800 358 5453: New Zealand's official advice and information line on COVID-19. This is free and available 24/7.
  • - New Zealand's official website for COVID-19 has everything you need to know about financial support available for families, the latest news from the Government, how to self-isolate - and much more. 
  • Plunket Facebook Live Chats: Watch our most recent Facebook Live Chats on COVID-19. 
  • Fun ideas for activities at home: Plunket will be sharing lots of different activity ideas for you to do with your family while we're in lockdown. 
  • List of other useful websites

Latest update from Plunket Chief Executive Amanda Malu

Kia ora koutou,

When we moved to Alert Level 2 I emailed to let you know that we would be taking a phased approach to the re-introduction of Plunket’s in-person services and opening our clinics. It was important to take the time to get things right and make sure we’re keeping all staff and whānau safe.

We have worked through our planning and can now update you on what this means for you and your tamariki over the coming weeks.

In-person visits and our clinics

We will be resuming some in-person visits from 27 May and starting to re-open our clinics for some Well Child appointments. We are in the process now of setting up our nearly 600 locations nationwide for re-opening, making sure we are meeting COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Clinics will be reopening as they become ready, and we will be updating our website regularly as this happens.

From this week, we will be contacting whānau to let them know how Plunket is resuming in-person Well Child services and when their next visit is. We will be prioritising services for whānau Māori and Pacific families and focusing first on those who need us the most – all whānau with a new-born tamariki in their first three months, and whānau we haven’t been able to reach during Alert Levels 3 & 4.

We’re still here for you – if you need extra support or advice during this time please contact your Plunket Nurse or give PlunketLine a call on 0800 933 922.

Our virtual services

During the lockdown period we increased our use of virtual tools such as Zoom and phone calls so we could stay in touch with families. Your feedback showed us that for many parents found this a useful service, offering additional flexbility, so we plan to continue to offer this as a channel for Well Child services where appropriate.

Non-Well Child services

For our non-Well Child services, such as playgroups, coffee groups, parenting education etc, they will continue to be delivered virtually for the time being. Contracted non-Well Child services will be managed according to our contractual requirements and teams will work through those directly with the contract funders.

I will continue to keep you updated on the re-introduction of our in-person services and we’ll also keep whānau updated through our website and social media channels.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this challenging time.

Fun activities to do at home 

COVIBOOK - A free, printable and interactive book designed to help children understand what's happening, and for them to talk about how they're feeling. 

Fun activities for whānau at home - A series of booklets full of fun activities for children aged six months to 10 years old.

Facebook Live Chat: Fun activities to do at home - A Live Chat about fun activities to keep your children entertained, educated and engaged.

Live Chat - Fun activities for the Whanau

Today we have National Coordinator Maire and she is going to talk about fun activities we can do with our little ones to keep them engaged and entertained. If you have any questions, pop them in the comments section below.

Posted by Plunket New Zealand on Tuesday, 31 March 2020


Facebook Live Chats - Q&As

Watch our COVID-19 Q&A chat with the New Zealand College of Midwives all about pregnant women, and those with young children:

Live Chat: COVID-19

Kia ora! 👋Welcome to our Live Chat about COVID-19. Today we're joined by Fiona, Midwife Educator from the New Zealand College of Midwives and Plunket National Advisor Karen. If you have any questions, comment below 💭

Posted by Plunket New Zealand on Thursday, 19 March 2020

Watch Plunket's Facebook Live Chat Q&A on COVID-19 - 18 March 2020: 

FAQs on COVID-19 and keeping your family safe 

Key points

  • Symptoms of the virus (fever, coughing and difficulty breathing) are very similar to a range of other illnesses, including the flu. Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have COVID-19.
  • Staying at home and good hygiene practices (washing your hands with soap and coughing/sneezing into a tissue or your elbow) are the best defence for you and your family.  
  • Always seek urgent medical care if your child is showing signs of being very unwell or has difficulty breathing. Make sure you call the doctor before you visit to ensure the virus doesn’t spread to other people.
  • Info in NZ Sign Language: If you're deaf or hearing impaired, the Ministry of Health and Deaf Aotearoa have some great videos in NZSL that you might find useful alongside the information on this page. 

Frequently asked questions 

What is novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which include the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

In January 2020, officials identified a new coronavirus called novel coronavirus or COVID-19.

Tens of thousands of people have been infected with COVID-19 since the outbreak began.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Health officials don't yet know how long symptoms take to show after a person has been infected. World Health Organization (WHO) assessments suggest that it is 2-10 days.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to a range of other illnesses such as the flu. Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean that your child or you have coronavirus. Symptoms of the new virus include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Difficulty breathing can be a sign of pneumonia. Urgently seek medical attention if your child (PlunketLine is available 24/7 on 0800 933 922) or member of your family is struggling to breathe.

Here’s a good resource on KidsHealth for ‘Signs that children are struggling to breathe’.

Should I go to the doctor if myself, or my child has COVID-19 symptoms?

If you think that you or your child has COVID-19 or has been exposed, call Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 if you or your child has symptoms. 

How is COVID-19 spread?

Like the flu, COVID-19 can spread from person to person. It spreads by droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets are too large to stay in the air for long, so they quickly settle on surrounding surfaces.

Droplet-spread diseases can be spread by:

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Close personal contact with someone with the virus
  • Contact with an object or surface with the virus on it (then touching your mouth, nose or eyes)

That's why it's important for you and family members to regularly wash your hands for 20 seconds and thoroughly dry them, cover your mouth and nose with tissues when coughing or sneezing, or cough and sneeze into your elbow.

Tips for reducing the spread of COVID-19

There are simple steps to take to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading through your family and community:

  • Wash your hands
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Stay home
  • Physical distancing - if you're outside your home, or you're sick, stay two-metres from other people at all times
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces (bench tops, door handles)

Read more about these at

How serious is COVID-19?

Most people with this virus are not severely ill.

People of all ages are being infected, but older people and those with medical conditions seem most likely to get seriously ill.

What should I do if my child is sick now?

If your child or you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing please telephone Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453.

Is there a vaccine to protect against COVID-19?

No, this is a new virus, so there is currently no vaccine to protect against this disease.

Is there any treatment for COVID-19?

No, there’s no specific treatment for COVID-19, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms.

Tips for self-isolating with children

The Ministry of Health has produced an information sheet on how to support your child through self-isolation

What do I do if I have COVID-19 but I'm breastfeeding/formula feeding?

There is currently no clinical evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk. Infection can be spread to your baby in the same way as to anyone in close contact with you. When a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or talks, they may spread droplets containing the virus.

The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk or by being in close contact with your child, however, this will be an individual decision and can be discussed with whānau, midwife, well child nurse or family doctor by telephone or email.

If you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, take precautions to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 to your baby by:

  • washing your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
  • avoiding coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding at the breast
  • if you do cough or sneezes cover your mouth and nose with tissues or your elbow, put your used tissue in the rubbish bin or in a plastic bag and wash and dry your hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser
  • cleaning any breast pump, bottles, and teats as recommended by the manufacturer after each use
  • consider asking someone who is well to feed your expressed milk or formula to your baby
  • where possible, contact a friend, family member or delivery services to get your baby's formula and feeding equipment from your normal supplier.

If you are feeding with formula, sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share teats or bottles with someone else.

More information about cleaning and sterilising feeding equipment can be found on the HealthEd website

I’m a parent/caregiver and I’m feeling really worried about COVID-19

It’s very normal to feel worried, especially in such uncertain times. We recommend staying in touch with friends and family, and trying to stay positive and have fun with your children while we're in lockdown.

Remember that physical distancing doesn't mean stopping your social connection. It just means doing it in different ways - like text or video chat. 

If you are worried about your child, please give Plunket’s lovely registered nurses a call on 0800 933 922.

PlunketLine is a free, 24/7 service and we’re here to support you with kindness and specialist advice you can trust.


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