General COVID-19 FAQ
What is a Coronavirus and COVID -19?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory infections. You may have heard of a few including the common cold or more serious diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
COVID -19 is a new coronavirus that originated in the Hubei Province, China and has spread globally.
How does COVID-19 spread?
COVID-19 mostly spreads between people by:
- Close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 or 24 hours before they show symptoms
- Close contact with an infected person who coughs or sneezes
- Touching your mouth or face after touching objects or surfaces contaminated by a cough or sneeze from an infected person (e.g. door handles, tables, computers or phones)
Who is most likely to get sick?
Some infected people might not get sick, while others may get very sick, very quickly.
The people most at risk of getting sick from COVID-19 are:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with chronic medical conditions
- People 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions
- People 70 years and older
- People with compromised immune systems
What are the symptoms?
Covid-19 symptoms are very similar to other flus and colds.
- Sore throat
- Breathing difficulties
While you should be cautious, most people with these symptoms probably have a cold or the common flu, not a Coronavirus.
Click here for a full list of symptoms (link to posters)
What if I have symptoms?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus or have been in close-contact with someone who has COVID-19, call your doctor immediately.
Call your doctor or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. Don’t visit a health clinic or hospital without telling them you have symptoms.
Before you arrive, call the health clinic or hospital and tell them about your symptoms or that you have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Stay isolated in your home until public health authorities say it’s safe to do your usual activities.
If you are struggling to breathe or having a medical emergency, call 000.
Should I get tested for COVID-19?
There is no need to be tested unless your doctor tells you to. You will be tested if:
- You have symptoms of COVID-19
Tell you doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms and they will decide if you can be tested for COVID-19.
You do not need to be tested if you do not meet any of the above criteria.
Who needs to self-isolate?
- Anyone who thinks they’ve been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 must self-isolate for 14 Days
- Anyone who arrives in Australia from 28 March must self-isolate at designated facilities for 14 days (e.g. a hotel)
- If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must stay home until your doctor says you’re healthy
LINK to story what is self-isolation?
I need to self-isolate. What does that mean?
Self-isolate = stay home.
You must stay at home if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 to stop it spreading to others, especially vulnerable people. If you have been exposed to the virus in another way, you might have to self-isolate as well.
Staying home means:
- Do not travel to public places (e.g. work, school, shopping centres, childcare, university campus)
- Ask someone who is not self-isolating to get food or other goods for you and leave at your front door
- No visitors. Only people living with you should be allowed inside
- You don’t need to wear a mask at home but please wear a surgical mask (if you have one) if you are going out to get medical attention. This is to protect others in your community.
Someone I live with is getting tested for COVID-19. Should I get tested and self-isolate too?
You might need to be isolated or tested but this is up to your local public health unit. They will contact you if needed.
Is domestic travel allowed?
Most Australian States and Territories have closed their borders for most travellers. Only Victoria, New South Wales and ACT have kept their borders open. Queensland, Northern Territory, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia have closed their borders.
What about public transport and ride sharing?
Please avoid non-essential travel.
Public transport is still operating but try to keep your distance from other passengers. Sit in the back seat of taxis or ride share vehicles and leave a few seats between passengers on public transport.
You have a higher risk catching COVID-19 from traveling on public transport or in rideshare vehicles.
Can I visit family and friends in aged care facilities?
States and territories have different rules about this.
Generally, do not visit aged care facilities if you have:
- Returned from overseas in the last 14 days.
- Been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Have a fever or a respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath).
From 1 May 2020 you must be vaccinated for influenza to visit an aged care facility.
This content has been adapted from SBS the Australian Government Department of Health Website.
This information can be found here: