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.
Currently, we are in the final stage with more than 94% of Australians aged 16+ having now had their first vaccine and more than 91% are fully vaccinated.
As a country, we are starting to re-open international borders, see the elimination of lockdowns and the introduction of vaccine booster doses.
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.
- Central Coronavirus Website- https://www.australia.gov.au/
- Health Advice – health.gov.au
- School updates – dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19
- Travel restrictions – homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/current-alerts/novel-coronavirus
- Travel advice – smarttraveller.gov.au
- Border Control measures and customs – abf.gov.au
- World Health Organisation – who.int
- Economic response to Coronavirus – treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
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.
What type of test do I need?
We use two types of tests to detect COVID-19 in Queensland. PCR tests, which are carried out at testing clinics, and Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), which can be done at home.
Rapid antigen self-tests are now available to purchase at participating pharmacies, supermarkets, and other retail outlets.
Rapid antigen tests are a faster way to test for COVID-19 than traditional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. They do not replace a PCR test. A PCR test is still the most accurate and reliable test to detect and diagnose COVID-19.
- If you test positive for Covid-19 via a rapid antigen test, you will no longer be required to also get a PCR test.
- To take the pressure off pathology labs, free rapid antigen tests will start being used at COVID-19 testing sites. This will help to speed up results.
- People who have symptoms, are a close contact, or are a health or aged care worker will be eligible for free rapid antigen tests.
- Pre-arrival tests for patients entering hospitals will no longer be required.
- For overseas arrivals entering Australia who test negative in the first instance via a rapid antigen test will no longer need to take a second test post-arrival. In Queensland, we will keep the requirement until the state reaches a 90 per cent double dose vaccination rate.
We do anticipate there will continue to be a lot of tension in the system when it comes to the supply and demand of tests. In short, if you are not a close contact and if you are not symptomatic, you do not need to get a test.
If you are sick with milder symptoms and not easily able to get yourself tested, please stay at home.
If you are experiencing breathlessness, chest pain, or severe light-headedness, seek medical attention.
Find the COVID-19 respiratory clinic nearest to you.
Who needs to isolate?
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 now open.
12 to 15 year olds in priority groups are already eligible and can make appointments now.
In December 2021, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years. Appointments for 5 to 11-year-olds will start from 10 January 2022. If you can’t find an appointment that suits you, please check back regularly as more appointments will become available.
To provide even greater protection against COVID-19, Australians aged 18 and over who have received two doses at least four months ago, are now eligible to have a booster shot.
Find your nearest clinic book for your vaccine or for your booster vaccine: here
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
- 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.
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.
Should I wear a face mask?
With the rates of COVID-19 rising in 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
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.
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:
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.
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