People with underlying medical conditions
Underlying medical conditions include:
- serious respiratory disease, including chronic lung disease and severe asthma
- serious heart conditions
- immunocompromised conditions
- severe obesity — a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
- hypertension that is not well controlled
- diabetes that is not well controlled
- chronic kidney disease
- liver disease.
Many conditions and treatments can weaken a person’s immune system, including:
- having chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- bone marrow or organ transplantation
- some blood cancers
- immune deficiencies including HIV infection
- immunity weakening medications such as high-dose corticosteroids and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.
Other people at risk
Those over 70
Older people, especially those who have underlying medical conditions, are more at risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Residents of aged care facilities
International evidence has shown that aged care facilities are prone to the quick spread of viruses like COVID-19.
Residents are more at risk of illnesses due to their age and they are also more likely to have underlying medical conditions.
International research has shown COVID-19 has a larger impact on ethnic minorities.
Māori, Pacific and some other ethnic minorities in New Zealand are at risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19, especially when there is:
- a higher rate of chronic medical conditions
- crowded housing
- difficulty accessing health care.
People with a history of smoking are more likely to have severe symptoms of COVID-19 and be admitted to intensive care.
There are options available to help you stop smoking. You can discuss these with your doctor or contact Quitline on 0800 778 778.
People who are pregnant
We recommend people who are pregnant take extra precautions, as evidence shows they may be at greater risk of poor outcomes.
If you are pregnant and work in an area where there is a high risk of exposure to COVID-19, such as some healthcare settings, you can:
- discuss and agree with your employer a risk assessment and options for different ways of working
- agree on leave from work and pay arrangements with your employer, if you cannot work safely at your workplace or from home.
There may be financial support for some people in situations where they need to stay away from work and cannot work from home.
Advice for people at higher risk
People are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if they are older or have an underlying medical condition. When you leave the house, you should maintain physical distance and good hygiene practices at all Alert Levels.
You can work with your doctor or specialist if you need help understanding your level of risk and how best to stay healthy.