What you need to know about coronavirus

What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus that causes illness similar to the common cold while other strains of coronaviruses can cause more serious disease like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Easy Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). It can affect both humans and animals.

The current strain of Coronavirus originated in Hubei Province, China and had not been detected before this outbreak. If you think you may have been in contact with a confirmed case of the virus or if you are a traveller from mainland China, you must isolate yourself in your home for 14 days after last contact with the confirmed case. Do not allow visitors into your home. If you must leave home, such as seeking medical treatment, wear a mask.

Who is most at risk?
People most at risk of serious infection include:

  • People with compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer
  • The elderly
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • Young children and babies
  • People with diagnosed chronic medical conditions
How is it spread?
Coronavirus is most likely spread from person-to-person through:
  • Direct close contact with a person while they are infectious;
  • Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection; or
  • From touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles and tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
Most infections are transmitted by people when they have symptoms. These can include a fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness and shortness of breath.

What do I do if I develop symptoms?
If you develop the symptoms listed above within 14 days or leaving China or within 14 days of last contact with a confirmed case, you should book an appointment with your doctor for assessment. If you have travelled from China, you should contact your GP or health clinic before you arrive to tell them of your travel history. You must remain isolated either in your home or a healthcare setting until Public Health authorities inform you it is safe for you to return to normal activities.

How is the virus treated?
There is no specific treatment for coronaviruses. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Most of the symptoms can be treated with supportive medical care.

How can we help prevent the spread of the virus?
Practicing good hand hygiene and cough/sneeze hygiene is the best defence. You should
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after going to the toilet.
  • Avoid contact with others
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow.

I want more information
For the latest advice and information, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Health website www.health.gov.au or contact the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on
1800 020 080.
Source: Australian Government Department of Health: Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

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