Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases. COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus. It was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China. Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly. Please call the DHHS Hotline 1800 675 398 if you think you have COVID-19.
What are the symptoms?
The most common coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms reported are:
- Breathing difficulties, breathlessness
- Sore throat
- Fatigue or tiredness.
Many people who contract coronavirus (COVID–19) will suffer only mild symptoms. Elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions may experience more severe symptoms
Who is most at risk?
There are two groups in the community who are most at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Overseas travellers and close contacts
If you have recently travelled overseas or have had close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) you are at the highest risk of infection.
Elderly or have pre-existing medical conditions
Many people will suffer only mild symptoms; however, early indications are that the elderly are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.
People with underlying illnesses that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease, including those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney failure and people with suppressed immune systems are also at a higher risk of serious disease.
I am feeling unwell, what should I do?
If you fall into any of the risk categories and begin to feel unwell and develop a fever or shortness of breath, a cough or respiratory illness either during your period of isolation (self-quarantine), or in the 14 days since arriving home from international travel, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Call ahead to your GP or emergency department and mention your overseas travel before you arrive at the doctor’s office so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.
If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance and tell the operator your recent travel history.
How can I reduce my risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection?
- Keep a full arm-span (about 1.5 metres) between yourself and other people where possible
- Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the tissue
- If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow
- Continue healthy habits: don’t smoke, exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep
- Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol
- Stay at home if you feel sick, and undertake physical distancing as outlined in the section below.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Health Information Line
Call this line if you are seeking information on novel coronavirus. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week: 1800 020 080
Call this number to speak to a registered nurse about your health concerns. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1800 022 222
The first symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza infections are often very similar.
They both cause fever and similar respiratory symptoms, which can then range from mild through to severe disease, and sometimes can be fatal.
Both viruses are also transmitted in the same way, by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. You can reduce the risk of both infections with good hand hygiene, good cough etiquette and good household cleaning.
The speed of transmission is an important difference between the two viruses. The time from infection to appearance of symptoms (the incubation period) for influenza is shorter than that for coronavirus. This means that influenza can spread faster than coronavirus.
While the range of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the proportion of people who develop severe disease appears to be higher for coronavirus.
International evidence consistently shows that most people have mild symptoms. While evidence varies from country to country, it is currently estimated that around 15% of people will experience severe infections and 5% will become critically ill. The proportions of severe and critical coronavirus infections are higher than for influenza infections.
Yes. If you arrive at an airport in Victoria on a flight that originates from somewhere outside Australia, or travel on a connecting flight from another flight that originates outside Australia, you must self-quarantine for 14 days.
When you arrive, you must travel directly from that airport to a premises that is suitable to remain quarantined in for 14 days.
Except in exceptional circumstances, you must stay there from the day of arrival until midnight on the 14th day after your arrival
You must not leave the premises, except:
- for the purposes of obtaining medical care or medical supplies
- in an emergency situation
- in circumstances where it is possible to avoid close contact with other persons.
You must not allow any other person to enter the premises unless that person usually lives there, or the other person is also in self-quarantine (self-isolation) for the same 14-day period, or they are there for medical or emergency purposes.
Health authorities around the world believe the virus is spread from close contact with an infected person, mostly through face-to-face or between members of the same household. People may also pick up the virus from surfaces contaminated by a person with the infection.
The virus is spread by people with symptoms when they cough or sneeze. That’s why the best way to protect others is to practice good personal hygiene.
Physical distancing involves changing your social habits to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. While effective, physical distancing cannot eliminate risk of transmission entirely and is not appropriate in many circumstances.
You could practice physical distancing going to and from work, including on public transport, and at work or social gatherings. For example, things you can do include:
- keeping a full arm-span (about 1.5 metres) between yourself and other people where possible
- avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others
- avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example non-essential business meetings
- avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
- avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment.