While many of us are at home with our families during the lockdown, medical professionals and staff from the Ministry of Health, including Healthline, have been putting in a massive effort to help keep us safe. If you’ve been getting calls about COVID-19, including offers of support or information about testing and results, we’re here to help you figure out what’s real and what isn’t.

WHO IS HEALTHLINE

Healthline is funded by the Ministry of Health and provided by Homecare Medical. They provide accurate, up to date medical information about what to do if you think you could be affected with COVID-19.

IS THE HEALTHLINE CALL A SCAM?

Some people have reported this call to Netsafe as a scam as they don’t recognise they number the call is coming from and because they are being asked questions about their self-isolation. These calls are not a scam. There’s more details below, but in summary:

  • Healthline have been tasked by Government with contacting people who have crossed the New Zealand border
  • Healthline will generally call from 09 302 0408
  • To protect their privacy and to ensure they have the right person, Healthline will ask the people they call to confirm their personal details before we continue the call

HOW IS HEALTHLINE WORKING TO COMBAT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19

Healthline has been making a huge number of calls across New Zealand. Healthline are responsible for calling everyone who’s required to be in self isolation, either because they’ve been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 case, or because they’ve recently travelled into New Zealand from overseas.

Calls from Healthline can look like they’re coming from a different number to their advertised 0800 number (0800 611 116), but it’s important to note that Healthline will generally call you from (09) 302 0408. If you get a call from this number or another New Zealand land line number claiming to be from Healthline, it could be real even if the number doesn’t look familiar.

When their call first connects, you might notice a short delay before you hear them speak. This happens because Helpline uses an automated phone system that checks for a real person answering the phone first to ensure it contacts as many people as possible.

Healthline will generally call you when they first receive notice that you need to self-isolate. This happens when they receive data from your border card after you arrive in New Zealand or when they’re advised by the Ministry of Health that you have been in close contact of a confirmed case.

In their first call, Healthline will check the information that’s been provided. In some cases this information can be inaccurate, so it’s important you go through everything. This ensures you’re taking all the right precautions for an appropriate length of time. They’ll also need to confirm the details of your travel if you crossed the border.

If there’s more than one person in your household in self-isolation, it’s more efficient for Healthline if you can confirm the status of everyone in the household in one call. They’ll try to limit calls to one per household so don’t be surprised if they ask for information about the people you’re with.

Healthline do this by grouping together all the people who report the same phone number.  As this isn’t always accurate they’ll need to check whether everybody who’s provided the same contact phone number are actually all in the same household.

As Healthline have had reports of people self-isolating outside of suitable accommodation, they’ll check that you have everything you need – food, accommodation and financial support. The government can provide assistance if you don’t have what you need and Healthline can help walk you through the support that’s available.

They’ll also check whether you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Healthline can help you to arrange testing if you become unwell. They can help you with other health needs as well.

If you’ve already had this call Healthline will try to call you again in the middle of your self-isolation, and again at the end to check how you’re progressing.

HOW TO TELL IF YOU’VE SPOKEN TO HEALTHLINE

If you’ve been contacted and you’re not sure if it was really from Healthline, the first step you can take is to check the phone number they called you from. If the call was from (09) 302 0408, this is a Healthline number and you need to call them back as soon as possible if you missed the call.

If you’re still not sure if the call was really from Healthline, for example if the phone call was different than what we’ve described, Healthline can arrange for you to call them back on the main Healthline phone number. With the huge number of calls they’re getting every day, it might take some time to get through to them but it’s really important that you stay on the line and check in. Staying informed is a good way to keep the people around you safe.

WHAT ELSE IS HEALTHLINE DOING

Healthline are aware that some phones (particularly Samsung phones) report the phonecall as a potential scam. Healthline is working with Samsung to have this Healthline number removed from that list. The Ministry of Health  website also explains why Healthline is calling people, what information they need, and what phone numbers they call from.

OTHER COVID-19 INFORMATION

Netsafe has already had reports of scammers using the pandemic to trick people into paying money or sharing private information. These can include donation scams, fake shopping sites selling PPE (personal protective equipment), and even “miracle cures.”

To keep yourself safe, follow the advice from the Ministry of Health at covid19.govt.nz.

For online retailers you’re not sure about, only buy from well known, reputable businesses and look for feedback about their online service on the internet – you can even do an internet search for their name with the word scam to see if they are genuine or not.

For more information about how to spot scams and what to do, see our page on Tips to avoid scams.

CONTACT NETSAFE

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.

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