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“Covid-19 is clearly not a virus that anybody in the world will have immunity to.”

Doctor Nikki Turner

Doctor Nikki Turner is the Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre University of Auckland. She speaks to UNICEF NZ about Covid-19.

The new novel coronavirus that has arisen recently is clearly not a virus that anybody in the world will have immunity to. So the worry about a brand new type of virus is that there is no pre-existing immunity. So the real question is how severe will it be?

At the moment, for young people and healthy people, it looks like this virus will probably be fairly mild. You’re likely to have a mild cold type illness or a mild flu.

For people with respiratory problems, for people who have underlying medical conditions or older people, it could be more severe. So those are the people in our community that we are first and foremost going to have to do our best to protect.

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Humans travel and so do viruses. We are putting a lot of public health effort into trying to prevent it from spreading too fast in our community. It's looking not as severe as some diseases and how quickly it travels, depends on how effective our public health responses are. We don't want Covid-19 coming alongside flu. So there is a really important message to use flu vaccination this year and to use all the other traditional public health measures.

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They sound really unromantic but hand sanitizer, washing your hands, keeping social distance from people and not coming to work when you're sick, are all vital. All of these things make a really big difference and they can really stop the spread of Covid-19 through the community, particularly to those who are most vulnerable.

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Today as a parent, you do not need to be too alarmed but you do need to think about international travel, your international connections and ensuring you keep checking the Ministry of health website.

Some of the greatest success stories of improving the health of children around the world are with water, sanitation and hygiene. UNICEF is committed to children and together we can stop the spread of Covid-19.

UNICEF is working to prevent the spread of Coronavirus by supplying urgently needed hygiene and medical supplies. Since 29 January, UNICEF has flown in 13 tons of supplies, including protective suits, masks, goggles and gloves for use by health workers. Additional shipments are in the pipeline and UNICEF is pre-positioning supplies in key locations.