Please note, we will update members as and when more information becomes available.
Following on from the introduction of a new COVID-19 alert system here in New Zealand, the Government has today advised we have moved to Level 3, and will move to Level 4 within 48 hours (by midnight Wednesday). Alert Level 4 is expected to continue for four weeks at this stage.
Everyone in New Zealand is now preparing for self-isolation over the next 48 hours. Schools and all educational facilities will be fully closed from midnight Wednesday, along with businesses except essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, and lifeline utilities. Travel is severely restricted and only for essential services.
22 March Update:
16 March Update:
The Government of New Zealand has just announced a ban on large events for 500 or more people. While there is no timeframe provided for how long this ban is in place, the focus appears to be on the immediate few weeks to provide clarity to those organising events during this immediate period.
Further guidance relating to large events is due from the Government later this week. We will continue to monitor the advice from the Government and review our planning, including our contingency planning, once this further guidance is available, however at this time it does not appear that we have to cancel CoNZealand due to the timing of our event still being several months away.
We will continue to update our members and community as soon as this evolving issue develops and we are able to confirm any impacts on CoNZealand. Thank you for your ongoing support and patience.
As at 15 March 2020:
Kia ora to our members, crew, and community,
As a worldwide community, we are currently having a wide range of experiences regarding Covid-19.
As of today (15 March 2020, NZT) there are eight confirmed cases based on positive test results and one probable case. In all of these cases, either the patient or an immediate family member had just returned from a country with an active outbreak. There is no evidence that the virus is actively spreading in New Zealand.
At this stage, the Ministry of Health does not propose altering arrangements for public events. Event organisers are asked to remind people not to attend if they are feeling unwell, and to brief staff and attendees on how to practice good hygiene.
China, Taiwan and other Asian countries have shown that a massive public health response to Covid-19 works. New Zealand is now enacting a strategy to do the same, based on successful Asian approaches.
On 14 March 2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that from today (15 March, NZT) there will be new border measures, with all travellers arriving in New Zealand (including New Zealand citizens) required to self-isolate for 14 days. The measures will be reviewed in 15 days. All cruise ships are being told to stay away until 30 June.
The Ministry of Health has enacted a case-finding strategy with high testing capacity coupled with rapid case contact tracing and isolation. An influenza vaccine campaign is underway to reduce the incidence of flu symptoms and unnecessary Covid-19 testing. There is also action being taken with respect to the psychological effects of case contact management and stigma, including specifically support in fighting racism and xenophobia.
New Zealand expects to continue to see isolated cases. People known to have been in close contact with reported cases will be contacted, provided with advice and (as recommended by the World Health Organization) will be put in monitored self-isolation to limit the risk of spread in the community. In New Zealand there have been 10,545 people total who have registered as “at risk” and self-isolated for the recommended 14 days. At the time of writing, 3,106 of these people are in isolation.
As for CoNZealand specifically, and what we’re doing to prioritise the health, safety, and wellbeing of our members and crew, we are ensuring our emergency management plan is kept up to date. We are working out the details of our contingency planning. We are also considering what measures we could put in place to help reduce the spread of any disease.
Our advice to our community members to keep this virus from sticking around long enough to affect Worldcon is: if you are sick, do not attend public events. Take measures to minimise the risk of getting sick at an event. The most important thing to do is practice good hygiene.
Good hygiene involves coughing/sneezing into your elbow, disposing of used tissues quickly and appropriately, washing hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water and drying them thoroughly before eating, after touching public surfaces, after using the toilet, and after touching your face or that of another person.
Face masks are not recommended for most people. There is limited evidence that face masks prevent the spread of disease, and concern that the increase in touching your face creates a risk. Good cough etiquette and hand hygiene is reported to have a bigger impact.
Additional measures include trying to keep two metres away from people who are unwell, and limiting alcohol and drug use (as this may affect your ability to adequately follow the advice above). These measures are especially important for people who have existing health conditions or who are immunocompromised. And please, look after each other by checking on elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours.
As circumstances continue to develop, one thing will remain the same: we will make our plans with the health, safety and wellbeing of our crew, members and communities as our highest priority.
Ngā mihi nui,
Kelly Buehler & Norman Cates