Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Get the facts

As the Australian Government continues to act on our plan to keep Australian’s safe from the spread of Coronavirus, I want to make sure people in our community have access to the current facts.

The National Cabinet continues to work together to address issues and find solutions for the health and economic consequences of COVID-19. They have fully agreed to the four-step National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response.

The National Plan provides a graduated pathway to transition Australia’s COVID-19 response from its current pre-vaccination settings focused on continued suppression of community transmission, to post-vaccination settings focused on the public health management of COVID-19 that is consistent with other infectious diseases.

In short, we cannot eliminate the virus. We have to live with it.

The National Plan builds on this, moving between phases once Australia reaches key vaccination thresholds – moving to Phase B once 70 per cent of the Australian population 16 years of age and older is fully vaccinated and Phase C once 80 per cent fully vaccinated threshold is met.

A 24/7 national Coronavirus Health Information Line has been established – 1800 020 080.

If you require a translating or interpreting service, call 131 450.

Website links

Coronavirus – What you need to know

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory infection that spreads from person to person through droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.

It can also spread by touching objects or surfaces that have droplets from an infected person on them, and then touching your mouth or face.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested immediately.

While coronavirus is of concern, it is important to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness – not coronavirus.

What is coronavirus and COVID-19?

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 a disease caused by a new type of coronavirus. It was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China.

How is coronavirus spread?

COVID-19 spreads from person to person through:

  • Close contact with an infectious person (including in the 48 hours before they had symptoms)
  • Contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • Touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face

Because COVID-19 is a new disease, there is no immunity to it in our community. This means that it can spread widely and quickly.

How can we help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

To protect our communities, everyone should continue to do the three most important things to stop the spread of the virus:

  • Stay at least 1.5 metres away from others whenever and wherever we can.
  • Practise good hygiene by washing hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and
    water is not available use an alcohol-based hand rub. Do not touch your face, and
    remember to cough and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hand.
  • Download the COVIDSafe app. The app helps to keep track of people you have been
    in close contact with.

Now more than ever, it is important you stay home if you have cold or flu like symptoms. If you have a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, get tested for coronavirus. We can all do our bit to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested. It is important to get tested even if you only have mild symptoms.

If you are concerned you may have COVID-19 you can:

  • Check you symptoms using the healthdirect symptom checker or call the National Coronavirus Helpline for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are a non-English speaker, you can use the Translating and Interpreting Service by calling 131 450.
  • Go to a free COVID-19 respiratory clinic (testing clinic).
  • Contact your doctor by phone and they will arrange the test, this may attract a fee

COVID-19 respiratory clinics are dedicated health centres located around the country, focusing on testing people with symptoms of respiratory infection.

Find the COVID-19 respiratory clinic nearest to you.

Who needs to isolate?

A person with coronavirus (COVID-19) or suspected to have it must enter mandatory isolation.

Isolation is different from quarantine and physical distancing.

You will need to isolate to prevent the spread of the virus to others if:

  • You have COVID-19.
  • Health authorities suspect you have COVID-19.

You will need to isolate in:

  • Hospital if you need hospital care.
  • Your home if it is suitable.
  • Another location if needed as decided by your public health authority.

The public health authority will advise you when you can leave isolation.

Please visit the Queensland State Government COVID-19 website for specific information on isolation and quarantine for your area.

What does isolate in your home mean?

People who must isolate need to stay at home and must not attend public places, in particular work, school, childcare or university. Only people who usually live in the household should be in the home.

Do not allow visitors into the home. Where possible, get others such as friends or family who are not required to be isolated to get food or other necessities for you.

As much as possible, you should stay in a room away from others, sleep in a separate room and use a separate bathroom if possible. Avoid shared or communal areas. While unwell, avoid close contact with others, including touching, kissing, hugging and other intimate contact.

If you do need to be in the same room as others in the household, always wear a face mask. Where a mask is not available it is important to keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres away from other household members.

Always wash your hands with soap and running water and dry your hands thoroughly or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after fitting your face mask.

Who is most at risk of a serious illness?

Some people are at greater risk of getting very sick if they contract COVID-19. However, everyone is different. It is important to talk to your doctor if you have a more serious illness or more than one condition.

First Nations people can be at higher risk in any public health emergency.

You are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you:

  • Are 70 years of age or over.
  • Have had an organ transplant and are on immune suppressive therapy.
  • Have had a bone marrow transplant in the last 24 months.
  • Are on immune suppressive therapy for graft versus host disease.
  • Have blood cancer eg leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome (diagnosed within the last 5 years).
  • Are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Protection through vaccination

The Australian Government wants everyone in Australia to have access to a safe, free, COVID-19 vaccine, if they choose to be vaccinated.

All people in Australia aged 12 and over are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, with bookings for children aged 12 to 15 open from 13 September 2021.

12-15 year olds in priority groups are already eligible and can make appointments now.

In line with the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine will be prioritised for people under 60 years of age across all phases. The AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria) vaccine will be prioritised for people aged 60 years and over.

You can check when and where you can receive a vaccine using the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker.

If you are not eligible for Medicare

If you don’t have a Medicare card, or are not eligible for Medicare, you can get your free
vaccination at:

  • Commonwealth vaccinations clinics,
  • State or territory vaccination clinics, or
  • Community pharmacies that are administering COVID-19 vaccines

If you are not eligible for Medicare, general practice providers can still supply COVID-19 vaccines to you. Please check with your usual practice for where you can access the vaccine
from. The vaccine will be delivered free of charge.

Vaccine approvals

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has strict standards for reviewing possible COVID-19 vaccines. They only approve vaccines that are safe and effective.

The TGA checks every batch of the vaccines for quality and watches for any unexpected side-effects after the vaccination.

Developing COVID-19 vaccines

The urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic means that all available resources and efforts have been directed towards finding a safe and effective vaccine.

This has happened quickly because:

  • Funding and collaboration between vaccine developers and governments around the world at levels never seen before.
  • Advancements in technology allowed vaccines to be developed faster than in the past.
  • Clinical trials progressed more quickly because COVID-19 was widespread, so differences between vaccinated groups and unvaccinated groups could be detected
    sooner.

Should I wear a face mask?

With the rates of COVID-19 rising in some parts of Australia, some of us now need to wear a face mask in public – it’s either required or recommended. It’s important that you stay up to date with the advice in your local area.

If you are in an area where your state or local government has advised you should or must wear a mask in public, please follow their directions. You can stay up to date by regularly checking the QLD Health website or visit Australia.gov.au.

Please remember, masks are helpful to stop people who have the virus from passing it on to others in the community. Please be aware they are only effective when used with other
infection-control measures.

Even if you wear a face mask you should follow physical distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene, and staying at home when unwell.

Download the COVIDSafe App

If you haven’t already, download the COVIDSafe app to help protect your family, friends and the community. The app supports public health officials to notify people who have been in contact with someone with coronavirus.

More information

For the latest advice, information and resources visit www.health.gov.au

Call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

The phone number of your state or territory public health agency is available at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts

If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

Mental Health support

PHONE HELP AVAILABLE:

Beyond Blue – 1800 512 348

Coronavirus mental wellbeing support service – Free 24/7 phone counselling to support you during this pandemic.

Text Lifeline – 0477 13 11 14

If you are finding it hard to talk, text this number and a trained crisis supporter will help. 6pm – midnight (7 days a week).

ONLINE HELP AVAILABLE:

headtohealth.gov.au

This page has been set up to provide trusted information during the pandemic. It provides facts, tips and information on how to access mental health services.

mindspot.org.au

This page has the latest mental health and wellbeing advice and tips – including for frontline workers and health professionals.

There are many more services available – more details at www.headtohealth.gov.au 

 

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