What is a novel coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses capable of making both humans and animals ill. SARS, The Bird Flu, Pig Flu and Hong Kong Flu were all different strains of coronavirus. A novel coronavirus is a new, never before seen strain. Novel coronaviruses are dangerous because we don’t have any vaccines or specific treatments for the strain.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an abbreviation of Coronavirus Disease 2019. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the novel coronavirus first reported in Wuhan, China in 2019.
How is the virus spread?
COVID-19 is spread through person to person contact, mostly through the aerosolised droplets of saliva or discharge expelled when a carrier coughs or sneezes. These aerosolised droplets are either inhaled, or can remain infectious on a surface such as a handrail or handle for hours or even days. Touching an infected surface and then touching your face or another mucus membrane can transfer the virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Severity of symptoms can vary drastically for people who contract COVID-19, with some not getting ill at all, others only having mild symptoms and others having severe symptoms. Common COVID-19 symptoms include: a fever, dry cough, sore throat, tiredness and trouble breathing.
Am I at risk?
Not everyone who contracts COVID-19 gets sick, and of those that do, many only show slight symptoms and recover quickly. Even many of those who experience severe symptoms recover quickly. There is no definitive information on which groups are most at risk with COVID-19, but the Department of Health has formulated a list of the most vulnerable based on previous experience with Coronavirus pandemics and epidemics. These include:
- People with compromised immune systems (e.g. cancer, immunosuppression)
- Elderly people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- People with diagnosed chronic medical conditions
- People in group residential settings or detention facilities (places in which socia distancing is difficult to practice and physical contact is likely)
How can I help prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Everyone is currently doing their part to stop the spread of the pandemic by practicing social distancing and staying home. Aside from social distancing there are other steps you can take including:
- Maintaining proper hand hygiene
- Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze with a tissue or failing that the crook of your elbow, discard tissues immediately after use and wash your hands or use an alcohol based hand sanitiser.
- Avoid touching your face.
What should I do if I contract COVID-19?
If you believe you have contracted COVID-19, don’t panic. Healthcare professionals and the Australian Government have infrastructure in place to help. To avoid potentially spreading the virus, rather than heading directly to a clinic, GP or hospital, contact your provider by phone or online. An easy way to do this is via the MyHealth1st portal or through Coronavirus Clinics . You will likely be asked a number of questions about your symptoms and situation and will then be advised as to your next course of action. For more information see: What Should You Do if You Think You Have COVID-19?
COVID19Clinics.com.au is the 1st Directory in Australia where you can find and book an appointment with your closest clinic.
Should I wear a mask?
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 and have a cough, wearing a mask if you have to travel anywhere is part of good respiratory etiquette. While wearing a mask as a protective measure isn’t necessary and may limit the availability for people that really need them, wearing a mask to protect others if you have a cough may combat the spread of the disease.
How long is the lockdown going to last?
Australia, and much of the world, is currently under lockdown, with businesses transitioning to a work from home format if able or shuttering if they are considered non-vital. There is no clear timeframe for the lockdown to be lifted, with the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison saying that it could be enforced for as long as six months or longer.