Call ahead and stay calm.
That is what Bay of Plenty doctors are urging people to do if they fear they might have coronavirus.
As of yesterday, five cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in New Zealand and none of these was in the Bay of Plenty region.
Dr Luke Bradford, from 5th Avenue Family Practice in Tauranga, said he had received "a couple" of calls from people inquiring about coronavirus last week but overall the mood was calm.
He said a person was only at risk of contracting the virus if they had contact with someone who was ill or if they had recently returned from Italy, China or South Korea.
People who had flu-like symptoms and had visited an outbreak country or had contact with an ill person were told to self-isolate and call ahead to their doctor instead of showing up to the clinic.
Dr Bradford, also the co-chair of the Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation, said the next four weeks would be key in controlling the virus.
"If they do stamp it out, we'll be fine but if they don't flu season could be interesting."
Thorough handwashing and good cough etiquette were important, along with getting a flu vaccination when the jab became available at the start of April.
Pāpāmoa clinic Tara Road Medical Centre's Dr Martijn Haitsma said yesterdaymorning alone, the clinic had received three calls inquiring about coronavirus.
These calls turned out to be "general cough and colds" where people were just concerned or not up to date with the symptoms and advice.
Haitsma's advice to the public was to ring ahead and to not come into the clinic. People could also call the Covid-19 line on 0800 358 5453 and follow the advice given.
Mount Medical Centre's Dr Tony Farrell said calling ahead meant healthcare staff could assess patients without running the risk of spreading the infection or putting a medical clinic into quarantine.
The centre had received about 10 or 20 calls a day about the virus, Farrell said.
Most of these calls had been from people who were seeking a doctor's certificate to confirm they did not have coronavirus.
Doctors were able to say that someone was not exhibiting symptoms but they were unable to "categorically" confirm that someone did not have Covid-19, he said.
Farrell said there was no need to panic and urged people to go about their normal lives but heed advice from health authorities.
Rotorua's Ranolfs Medical Centre nurse practitioner, Caerlie Picken, also urged people to call ahead and expect to be seen in their car if they were worried about having coronavirus.
Picken said the clinic was looking at assessing people over video call in addition to phone calls.
Toi Te Ora Public Health medical officer of health, Dr Jim Miller, said symptoms of Covid-19 were similar to a wide range of other illnesses and included fever, a cough and difficulty breathing.
Miller urged people to regularly wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes and stay at home if they felt unwell.
If someone had recently travelled overseas, or are concerned they may have been in close contact with someone with Covid-19 and are unwell, they should first contact Healthline for free advice on 0800 358 5453 (or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs).
Meanwhile, Lakes District Health Board chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said in a written statement that all health care providers struggled with staffing during the winter period due to increased demand coupled with staff sickness.
"The additional pressure of a Covid-19 outbreak would make it very challenging to provide the level of staffing we normally expect," Saville-Wood said.
For this reason, the DHB strongly supported the national influenza vaccination programme.
Saville-Wood said this was an option that the DHB was open to.
"We are exploring a number of ideas around staffing and this one is definitely one we would consider if it became necessary."
Bay of Plenty District Health Board incident controller, Sandra Fielding, said staffing levels were currently at normal levels.
If Covid-19 became widespread, Feilding said the DHBs ability to perform elective procedures could be impacted but the DHB had contingency plans to deal this "eventuality".
Fielding said the DHB would consider using retired and volunteer staff to support care if there was a widespread pandemic.