Becoming ill after arriving in Aotearoa New Zealand

It’s always exciting when friends or family visit you from overseas – especially if you haven’t seen them for a long time. But that excitement can quickly turn to disappointment if they become sick after they arrive.

Who wants a planned trip to a beautiful location in Aotearoa to turn into an unplanned trip to the doctor?

And for Kiwis returning from overseas holidays or living abroad, it can be a total downer to be struck down with an illness after coming home.

Diseases can be picked up overseas but symptoms may not appear until touching down in Aotearoa. Some tropical diseases and infections can become serious quite quickly and may be life-threatening.

Here are some tips for what to do if overseas visitors, or returning New Zealanders, become sick within a month of arriving or returning home:

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) – updated health advice for the general public

If you have been overseas in the past 14 days, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of arrival. 

Even if you arrived before official border restrictions were announced, seeing out the balance of your 14 days in self-isolation is the sensible, safest and best thing you can do for the community around you. 

If you are self-isolating, register your details with Healthline if you have not already. Registering with Healthline ensures they can regularly check on your welfare and wellbeing as well as helping support New Zealand’s overall response to novel coronavirus.

If you develop symptoms of fever, cough or other flu-like symptoms please seek medical advice by first phoning your GP or calling Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453.

Key steps for staying at home and reducing the risk to those around you is best found at COVID19.govt.nz

See also our coronavirus-related pages: COVID-19 outbreak 2020

Seek medical advice as soon as possible

With the current COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, as soon as you become ill, call your GP clinic or free phone Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice. 

Explain your travel history

Make sure you explain in detail where you have been overseas and what activities you’ve taken part in, eg, visiting a farm or snorkelling.

Describe all your symptoms

It’s important to describe in detail all of your symptoms. Tell the doctor if you have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • difficulty breathing
  • ongoing coughing
  • ongoing diarrhoea
  • ongoing vomiting
  • skin rash
  • bruising or bleeding without injury
  • confusion
  • looking obviously unwell.

Reduce the risk of illness spreading

If someone you know becomes ill after arriving in the country, you can reduce the risk of catching the illness by avoiding contact with them where possible. If you are the person who becomes ill, you can minimise the risk of spreading it by:

  • keeping yourself away from others
  • covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • using disposable tissues to blow your nose
  • washing your hands frequently, including after the above
  • not sharing food, drinks or utensils (knives, forks, chopsticks, spoons, bowls, plates, straws, pens, pencils, toothbrushes etc).

The Ministry of Health has issued health advice cards for people who get sick within one month of arriving in New Zealand. They are available in 6 languages: English, Chinese, French, Korean, Samoan and Tongan.

Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.