Siouxsie Wiles: A simple thing you can do in seconds to help make NZ healthier

The more people take part, the better it will be at spotting potential clusters of Covid-19. Siouxsie Wiles explains.

You might have heard the prime minister and the director-general of health mention in recent days something called FluTracking. What’s it all about? Here’s what you need to know.

The FluTracking project is a fantastic initiative that started in Australia in 2006. It expanded to include Aotearoa New Zealand in 2018. The project aims to track flu and flu-like symptoms across both countries every year. In essence, as the people behind the site explain, it’s about “harnessing the power of the internet and community spirit for monitoring influenza”. It normally starts around April or May when our flu season kicks off.

As part of an early warning system for Covid-19, this year the FluTracking project has started early.

Here’s how it works. You sign up online and every week you’ll be sent a short online survey that takes just a few seconds to fill out. You’ll be asked if anyone in your household had a fever or cough over the last week. If you answer yes to any of those questions, you’ll get asked a few more: have they also had a sore throat, taken any time off work, or seen a doctor or other healthcare provider? You’ll also be asked if anyone was tested for Covid-19, and if anyone has had the flu vaccine.

The more people do the survey, the better FluTracking will be at tracking the appearance of potential clusters of Covid-19. Last week nearly 30,000 people in New Zealand did the survey. So please sign up.

If you need reminding what the symptoms of Covid-19 are, check out Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris’s handy guide (click here for a printable, high-res PDF version).

And with the formal criteria for testing now expanded, and the prime minister saying she wants to find all the cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, please, if you have a dry cough – even without a fever – give your GP a call and organise to get tested.



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