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Despite being in a global pandemic, New Zealanders are “probably as healthy as we’ve ever been” in terms of respiratory illness heading into winter, the Director-General of Health says.

Not only has the coronavirus lockdown seen confirmed and probable case numbers drop across the country in recent weeks, health authorities have also seen a “complete drop away” of people with respiratory symptoms and influenza-like illness.

On Tuesday afternoon, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the number of people with flu-like illness was “almost down to zero”, given lockdown measures.

Staying at home and “breaking the chain of transmission” for the Covid-19 outbreak had also broken the chain of transmission for other respiratory illness in the community too, Bloomfield said.

“We’re probably as healthy as we’ve ever been from a respiratory illness point of view going into winter.”

Public messaging about how to stay safe, practice physical distancing, and the importance of handwashing was predicted to have deep and long-lasting benefits.


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