Coronavirus: 5 things not to do

What you don't need to do to prepare for coronavirus.

20mar coronavirus 5 things not to do hero

Our advice to avoid getting caught out by misleading information about Covid-19.

1. You don’t need to panic buy

Scenes of shoppers stacking trollies with tissues and toilet paper hit the headlines when we went into lockdown in March. However, there’s no reason to start hoarding.

Supermarkets have assured us they don’t anticipate shortages and supply lines are in good shape.

Keep your cupboards stocked but don’t go overboard – you don’t need several months’ worth of tissues.

If you need to stay at home because you’re in quarantine, supermarkets can deliver groceries (if this service is available in your area). You can also ask family or friends to pick up supplies and leave them on your doorstep.

2. You don’t need pricey cleaning products

The best thing you can do is follow basic hygiene and cleaning advice. You don’t need to pay extra for special cleaning products.

Plain soap and water are effective at cleaning your hands. There’s no added benefit in using antibacterial soaps.

The basic rules:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry them well

  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with tissues

  • regularly clean surfaces (soap and water can also be used for scrubbing surfaces).

It may be possible to get Covid-19 from contaminated surfaces but the main way the virus is thought to spread is by droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

3. You don’t need to hoard face masks

In its updated advice, the Ministry of Health recommends adding face masks to your emergency supplies. It’s recommending non-medical grade face masks – either disposable options or reusable cloth masks.

Only buy what you need for your household: hoarding masks means there’s less stock available for others.

Can’t afford a mask or find any in stores? You can use something else as a face covering – such as a bandana, scarf or T-shirt.

Remember, face masks aren’t a fail-safe protection against coronavirus. Washing your hands and covering coughs and sneezes remains as important as ever.

4. You don’t need to stockpile paracetamol

Pharmac has restricted paracetamol prescriptions (for 500mg tablets) because of supply issues resulting from Covid-19. These restrictions mean pharmacists can’t dispense more than one month's funded supply at a time.

The restrictions don’t apply to paracetamol bought over-the-counter. However, needlessly stocking up could mean others aren’t able to buy the medication.

5. Don’t get taken in by scammers

Scammers take every opportunity to make money. The Covid-19 pandemic is no exception.

Hoax emails claiming to have updated Covid-19 information have been doing the rounds. The emails contain attachments that could install malicious software on your computer if opened. Others may ask you to hand over personal information in an attempt to steal your details.

Scam text messages have also been reported in Australia. The messages contain a link that claims to direct recipients to testing facilities. If you click the link, it may install software on your phone that could steal your bank login and other personal information.

Don’t click on any links in emails or texts from people you don’t know and never give out your login details. Keep your devices up-to-date with the latest security patches.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Crowd of people walking.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

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Member comments

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02 Apr 2020
Super market shelves

It's all very well to say don't stock up more than usual. We obeyed the advice and didn't go and stock up. We didn't actual go at all. We are both within a month or two of our 70th birthdays. So tried this Monday in the evening when the queue had almost disappeared. Almost nothing on the shelves. Got some frozen peas, beans and ice cream. Tried again Tuesday evening. Same again, empty shelves. Tried 3 different times today to see if queue short. No, out around the car park.

Ange S.
12 Sep 2020
Empty Supermarket Shelves

Your experience of empty shelves every time you went shopping is a direct result of those who chose to be selfish by not to follow the guidelines that were expressed too all of us in New Zealand not to stockpile & it was also stressed to us all to try & think of others as well at this time of uncertainty & unfortunately many didn’t & there were also many who too have & still very much do believe & spread amongst their families & friends within their direct community a fair amount of the false information that is out there especially that on social media surrounding COVID-19 out there which is continuing to be believed by many that it has now resulted in a “cluster of positive cases” being able to develop & grow within our community today & unfortunately I don’t believe that this will be a one-off cluster that manages to develop as many out there unfortunately will continue to believe this misinformation along with some in the community that will deliberately cause clusters to get out in the community as a direct result of being misinformed which is very worrying & concerning to say the least.
I say & stress to my family if the information that is being spread is not from a government website or an official COVID-19 website or one of our reputable & reliable news sources then don’t believe it.

Keith G.
22 Mar 2020
Social media

Yes, email and phone scams are a concern, but there is also misleading and dangerous information circulating on social media.

Dianne W.
22 Mar 2020
Offers of help

I would also be wary of people you don't know offering to buy things for you. There is the potential for a real field day here.

21 Mar 2020
Community spread

Now that our borders are closed to all but NZ citizens returning home, in two weeks time any community spread is likely to be caused by those returning travellers failing to self-isolate for the required 14 days. The borders were closed because tourists were failing to self-isolate - it should be a crime for returning overseas travellers to put the rest of us at risk. If they did as required it would be possible for NZ to have NO outbreak at all. The government should heavily fine those not complying and all of us dob in anyone we know who are flouting the rules.

21 Mar 2020


Kevin M.
21 Mar 2020
Urgency at the border

There is a need for the same clarity of planning and action at the border as we would have in wartime. Maybe we need our defence force to run this, education on NZ’s expectations of returning citizens needs to be very clear, temperature checking, database capturing, questing re self isolation etc. if it takes 2 hours extra at the airport surely that’s a small cost. We are lucky enough to have very few entry points - surely we can ramp up an efficient arrival process to check, capture and educate.

Angela C.
21 Mar 2020
Adequate experience at the border

Having arrived last Saturday after holidaying in Canada, I’d say that the border is better than expected. Our flight on Air Canada was inadequate however - no handwipes or sanitiser on board, careless crew and generally questionable toilets. I hope AirNZ is doing a better job. There’s not much social distancing possible on a plane!
As for the border, our departure point was ascertained and we were given two useful information sheets. Testing arrivals is not realistic. Taking temperatures doesn’t necessarily indicate the virus and many carriers will not have a temperature.
A swab takes too long to process at that point. Self isolation is essential.

Georgina W.
21 Mar 2020
Self isolation is needed even if you get tested

even if you get tested, and its negative, you still have to self-isolate. So there's only a point in getting tested if you are unwell and want to find out if the issues you are having are Covid-19