Print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Health care during COVID-19


If you have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or blocked nose or other flu-like symptoms, you should stay home and self-isolate.

You should also phone Healthline on 0800-358-5453 or contact your GP for advice. Don't visit a medical provider without contacting them first.

In a medical emergency, phone 111 and ask for an ambulance.

Many health professionals are still providing services during this challenging time. But they may be providing their services in a different way to protect both you and them. They may be providing services over the phone or by video conferencing. This is called a virtual consultation.

This page is about how to access health care during the COVID-19 lockdown.

GPs (General Practitioners)

You can still get appointments with your GP. Your general practice is an essential service, so it will be open.

If you have a health concern, you should contact your general practice as normal. If you think you need to see your doctor, you must phone the practice first. Remember that phone lines may be busier than normal so don't worry if it takes a while to get through.

Your GP will try to give you a telephone or video appointment. But if necessary, they may ask you to come in for a face-to-face appointment.


If you need a repeat prescription, your GP may be happy to renew your prescription without seeing you. Most general practices have a prescription ordering phone line. They can also send your prescription directly to your pharmacy. If you aren't sure, talk to your general practice about how you can get your prescription.


Pharmacies are still open. It's worth calling them to ask if they have a medication delivery service that you can use. This could be particularly useful if you're self-isolating and can't collect your medication. If you need to go to your pharmacy, phone them first to ask about their policy for entering the pharmacy.

Currently, there are no shortages of medicines in New Zealand. But pharmacies will only provide one month's supply of medicines at a time. If your prescription is usually for three months, your pharmacy will dispense it in monthly lots. The only exception is the oral contraceptive where you will still get three months' supply at a time.

See this Public message about medicines supply.

After-hours medical care

If you need medical advice after hours and it isn't a medical emergency, call your general practice. Calls are automatically redirected to a health professional for health advice.

The Pegasus 24 Hour Surgery is still providing medical care when your GP isn't available. You may be advised to go there. If you think you or your whānau/family have COVID-19 symptoms, stay in your car when you arrive and call reception on (03) 365-7777. If you don't have any COVID-19 symptoms, you can go to reception. See After-hours medical care for other general practices with extended hours.

Hospital appointments

Many non-urgent face-to-face outpatient appointments are being postponed because of the current situation. But some departments are providing telephone appointments. If you aren't sure about your appointment, call the number on your appointment letter. See this page for more information about changes at Canterbury DHB hospitals.

Blood tests

Canterbury Health Laboratory at Christchurch Hospital is currently closed. If you need to have a blood test, you'll need to go to one of the Canterbury Southern Community Laboratories (SCL) test centres. Some test centres may be closed at times. If you aren't sure, check SCL's website. For urgent enquires, you can phone SCL on: (03) 359-0900.


All non-essential dental appointments have been postponed until further notice.

If you or your child needs urgent dental care during the lockdown, call the Community Dental Service on 0800-846-983. Anyone in Canterbury or the West Coast can call that number between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm, seven days a week. You can also email the Community Dental Service.

Family Planning

Family Planning can't currently provide face-to-face consultations. But they can still help with contraception, emergency contraception and information about abortion. To ask for an appointment, complete this form.

Mental health services

Mental health and addiction services are essential services and are still available. Some services are currently being provided by video link or over the phone. This Ministry of Health page has advice. It also has links to online support services and wellbeing resources. You can talk to your GP or call or text 1737 for free any time to talk to a trained counsellor if you need further support.

Midwife care during pregnancy

Midwives will continue to provide all the care and support you need. Instead of face-to-face check-ups, your midwife may contact you by phone or with a video call.

As a pregnant woman, you're considered to be at a higher risk from COVID-19. The New Zealand College of Midwives has some information that you may find useful. KidsHealth also has information about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

If you're pregnant, you're eligible for a funded Flu (influenza) vaccination. You should contact your general practice to discuss this and arrange an appointment.


While not providing any face to-face services, Plunket has set up a prioritised virtual service. If you have questions about your child's or baby's health or wellbeing, phone PlunketLine on 0800-933-922 to speak to a Plunket nurse. PlunketLine runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Sexual Health

All drop-in clinics at the Sexual Health Centre have been cancelled. But you can leave a message by phoning (03) 364-0485 and a triage nurse will call you back.

Other healthcare providers (allied health)

Allied health professionals include chiropractors, dietitians, occupational therapists, osteopaths, physiotherapists and podiatrists. Many of them are closed for face-to-face appointments. But many of them are still providing telephone or video appointments. Contact your usual allied health practice for advice.

On the next page: Virtual consultations

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Page created April 2020.


See also:

Caring for yourself at home with COVID-19

Diabetes and COVID-19

Dementia and COVID-19

Family harm and COVID-19

Long-lasting pelvic pain and COVID-19

Wellbeing during COVID-19

Page reference: 736909

Review key: HICOV-710714