New Zealand’s orchid societies – like the rest of our community – need to be ready for when our country is affected by community transmission of the Covid-19 virus, particularly as we are hearing from overseas that this is a particularly virulent virus that has developed sophisticated ways of finding and infecting new human hosts. The welfare of club members is of utmost concern to the OCNZ, hence this bulletin with what we hope is some practical advice.
While your club continues to hold meetings, please do not attend if:
- You have been in contact with anyone who has tested positive or is waiting for a test result
- If you or anyone you have come into contact with has been to any of the high-risk countries
- If you have a cough or are sneezing
- If you feel unwell or are concerned about becoming unwell.
At meetings members should:
- Observe ‘social distancing’, ie, no hand-shaking, no hugs, no kissing, no hongi
- Try and stay 1.5m apart from others at the meeting
- Practice good hand-washing at all times – soap and water for at least 20 seconds, thorough drying.
Clubs (or the owner of the building) should be providing hand sanitiser at the entry door and before supper.
As we come into winter and traditional flu season, it is important that people acknowledge either that they have been exposed to illness (flu and colds included) and likely shouldn’t be mixing with others and/or that they have underlying health issues, including respiratory, that may make them more at risk if indeed they are infected by Covid-19. Everyone should be getting a flu vaccine this year. Becoming infected with influenza and Covid-19 at the same time could be fatal.
If community transmission becomes a problem in NZ we advise clubs to cancel meetings and events for as long as necessary. People can stay in touch via newsletters/group emails/Facebook, whatever works best for your club. If you’re worried about older members with health issues consider setting up a telephone tree so contact is kept up and checks are made.
The following advice about helping to stop the spread of Covid-19 comes from the Government:
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with tissues
- Immediately put used tissues into a bin or bag
- Wash your hands with soap and water often (for at least 20 seconds each time)
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Don’t touch your nose, eyes or mouth if your hands are not clean
- Avoid personal contact, such has hugging, kissing and hongi, and sharing cups or food with sick people
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as doorknobs
- Stay home if you feel unwell and call Healthline 0800 358 5453 (free, available 24/7)
- If you do go to a medical centre/hospital with suspected Covid-19, phone ahead, stay in the car and wait for staff to come to you
- For more information go to the Government’s website.
This all sounds rather terrifying but please remember that as of March 17, 2020 there has been no community transmission of Covid-19 in New Zealand. If we work together and use our commonsense we may be able to keep this virus at bay.