COVID-19 Update

Update from 22 March 2020:


As we are all aware the situation we are in is changing rapidly and we know it is concerning for you all. We need to reiterate that we are not medical professionals and as we are sure you can understand we cannot offer medical advice or directives.

What we can do is to let you know that we are actively following up on questions and talking to the medical team more than daily. We are providing you with information as and when we can and we want to assure we will provide updates as soon as we get them. There is a lot of information out there but we encourage you to go to the official sources for guidance:  https://covid19.govt.nz

More than anything we really urge you to make the decisions that are right for you and your family. Your concerns are all valid and justified and we do know that this is a worrying time.

He waka eke noa - we are all in this together ❤️


Update from 21 March 2020:

As many of you will be aware, the Prime Minister announced today, that those over 70 and those with compromised immune systems need to take extra precautions and limit their movement and interactions.

We understand that many of you will have concerns about your children and yourselves (especially if living with a heart condition). Many adults are already working from home, however at this stage schools and preschools are still operating. We are in regular contact with the medical team at Starship and have spoken to them today. At present there is no firm directive from them to keep your children at home, however, the Government recommends that everyone with a heart condition should stay at home.

Things are changing rapidly and we will keep you updated of any changes. All the information you need can now be found at www.covid19.govt.nz, but in the meantime please do what you need to do to look after yourselves and your family. Kia Kaha ❤️


Update from 20 March 2020:

Many of you have been waiting for further updates from us regarding COVID-19 after our last update on Monday. Thank you for your questions and for reaching out for support. This is exactly what we need to be doing right now - come together as a community that helps and supports each other.

Heart Kids is committed to the safety and wellbeing of our families. With that in mind and the COVID-19 pandemic management measures being put in place nationally, we have now made the tough decision to stop all face-to-face family support activity. This includes coffee groups, home visits and family events.

We are now focusing our attention on how we can continue to support you through these challenging times and our Family Support team are working together to create opportunities for heart families to come together using video conferencing tools. More on that will follow very soon.

In addition to that, the Family Support team continue to be available by phone, email and text. So reach out to them if you have questions, concerns or just need someone to listen. You can find the phone number and email address of your local Family Support Worker on our website here.

How are you doing?
It is a very unsettling time for our Heart Kids whānau and the wider community. It's normal to feel distressed and experience symptoms of heightened stress. This can include fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones (especially your heart child), changes in sleep or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

Things you can do to support yourself include eating healthy, well-balanced meals, exercising regularly, making time to unwind and do activities you enjoy, taking breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including social media, taking care of your body (deep breaths, stretching, or meditating), and most importantly, connecting with others. We might not be able to do this face-to-face, but we can still talk on the phone, Facebook Messenger or Skype with people we trust, love and care about.

If you feel overwhelmed and need support, please get help. You don't have to weather this crisis alone; we are all in this together and together we will pull through.

Flu vaccinations
This year's influenza immunisation programme has started early for eligible patients, which includes everyone living with a congenital heart condition or Rheumatic Heart Disease. For more information or questions around how to get the flu vaccination, please talk to your GP, cardiologist or nurse specialist, or call 0800 466 863.

COVID-19 and CHD
Together with the medical teams at Starship Children's Health and Auckland City Hospital, we are monitoring the rapidly evolving situation and adjusting our recommendations to our Family Support team and heart families, as necessary. Everyone in your whānau should take actions to reduce your risk of getting sick with COVID-19. Please continue to follow the guidelines given by the Ministry of Health.

Schools and Preschools
Currently, schools and preschools remain open and are taking extra cautionary measures to ensure the MOH guidelines are being followed by everyone attending. It might be useful to talk to your heart child or teen about being diligent in following hygiene and social distancing instructions given by their teachers. John Cowan from The Parenting Place - who many will remember as a speaker at our last two Education Forums - wrote a helpful article on how to talk to kids about the coronavirus.

Regarding the decision, if your child should remain at school or preschool, we spoke with Dr Tom Gentles who said that his team is currently not advising to take cardiac kids out of school or preschool. However, if you feel more comfortable having your child at home, that is okay, too. Trust yourself and do what feels right for you and your whānau!

We need your help!
As part of our Heart Kids whānau, we want to be transparent about our current financial outlook. With all face-to-face interactions ceasing, all fundraising events are cancelled. This will have a significant impact on our ability to generate the income we need to keep doing what we're doing.

Our fundraising team are working hard to ensure they can mitigate the risk of a significantly reduced service delivery budget by looking at new ways of generating income. You will understand more than anyone else that we need to do everything we can to ensure we continue to be in a position to support our families through this challenging time.

If you want to help and are able to, please make a donation to Heart Kids on our website. Options are available, including one-off donations or giving a small amount on a regular basis. Every dollar helps us continue what we are doing.

If you are not in a position to contribute financially but have skills in communications or digital fundraising and time to volunteer for us over the coming days and weeks, please let us know by emailing Katalin at katalin@heartnz.org.nz.

Please don't forget...
We are here for you! If you have any questions or if there's anything we can help with, please reach out to your local Family Support Worker. They are only a call away.

Update from 16 March 2020:

As with other similar charity and healthcare organisations, Heart Kids is monitoring the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation to ensure we are communicating relevant and factual information to our members and employees. Many of our members have asked about the potential impact of COVID-19 on children with CHD. We understand that widespread media coverage of the developing situation is causing concern within many of our community groups.

Last week the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic. This announcement has raised further issues however we emphasise that this does not mean more people are likely to be infected or to be more adversely affected. The pandemic status acknowledges that the virus is spreading across populations of multiple countries simultaneously. The government, local DHB’s and medical teams are working hard to contain the spread of the virus and public awareness of health hygiene is an important component of containment.

Heart Kids is reviewing the status of Covid-19 daily and we are regularly communicating with the medical team at Starship and Auckland Hospital. Dr Tom Gentles (Head of Paediatric Cardiology at Starship Hospital) and his medical team have provided information to us that is aligned to the information the Ministry of Health has communicated. At this stage, the medical team will continue to take the lead from the Ministry of Health and there is no additional information specifically for individuals with congenital or childhood acquired heart conditions. The medical team have however suggested that anyone with ongoing heart issues may wish to reconsider upcoming overseas travel until the situation is clearer.

In addition to monitoring the COVID-19 situation, our teams are reviewing service delivery on a regular basis to ensure we keep our staff, heart adults, families and children safe. This is our priority. As of today, services and family support will continue as usual and any changes will be communicated immediately via our website and social media. We will remain in close contact with the hospitals and will continue to visit the wards until such time as the hospital notifies us of changes. If this occurs, we will implement a remote support plan to ensure minimal disruption to family support services.

For those of you who are scheduled to stay in Ronald McDonald House, we have been advised that they will continue to house families as per normal. If you have a stay scheduled in the next month, please contact them directly for more information. You can also visit their website for updates: www.rmhc.org.nz

Heart Kids urges families to regularly check the Ministry of Health website for accurate and up to date information. Below is the link to their website: www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus. Additionally, the Auckland District Health Board is providing updates on their website, please see the link below: www.arphs.health.nz/public-health-topics/disease-and-illness/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/

We will continue to post relevant updates here on our website.

We have also listed additional information for individuals and families of heart children below; we hope this is of some assistance.

Information for heart kids and whānau

  • Ensure medication don't run low - please make sure you have at least 2 weeks supply of any medication required.
  • Make sure all vaccinations are current for cardiac clients/family members and discuss with your GP or Cardiologist if in doubt.
  • Phone your medical centre for repeat prescriptions rather than visiting the doctor to limit person-to-person contact in a general health care environment.
  • Call the GP/GP Clinic before making appointments and if possible, avoid lengthy stays in waiting rooms.
  • Remind family, friends and colleagues about the importance of handwashing.
  • Consider social/cultural greetings that involve personal contact for example handshaking, kissing, hongi etc.
  • If worried call the cardiac nurse specialist (Paediatric: paedcard.ns@adhb.govt.nz or call 09 630 9972; Adult: achdnurse@adhb.govt.nz) or call your Family Support Worker. 


Personal hygiene and transmission

COVID-19, like the flu, can be spread from person to person. When a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or talks, they may spread droplets containing the virus a short distance, which quickly settle on surrounding surfaces. You may get infected by the virus if you touch those surfaces or objects and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.

As individuals you can take some simple steps to help stop the spread of viruses like COVID-19 and influenza, these are listed below:

  • Avoid close contact with people with cold or flu-like illnesses.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing.
  • Wash hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly:
  • before eating or handling food
  • after using the toilet
  • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses
  • after caring for sick people.


The Ministry of Health advises that people who can maintain more than 1-metre contact distance from people with potential Coronavirus symptoms do not require face masks, the above cough and hygiene etiquette is enough.

What to do if you think you have symptoms

If anyone is experiencing symptoms please contact Healthline (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or your doctor immediately. Please do not take yourself or child into a medical centre.

Created on: 16 March 2020