THIS INFORMATION IS BROUGHT TO YOU FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES.
Last updated: 03.03.2020
If you think you may have coronavirus disease, please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 389. This hotline is serviced by Nurse-on-Call. Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies.
WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
This coronavirus disease is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
AM I AT RISK?
Australian health authorities have identified that the people at highest risk of developing coronavirus infection are:
- People who have travelled from mainland China (excluding Hong Kong SAR, Macau and Taiwan) or Iran to Australia in the last 14 days, and
- Close contacts of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease.
WHO IS MOST VULNERABLE?
Experience tells us that people with compromised immune systems, the very old and young and those with diagnosed heart and lung conditions are most at risk of developing complications if they contract an infection like coronavirus infection.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
If you have been in mainland China (excluding Hong Kong SAR, Macau and Taiwan) or Iran in the past 14 days you are advised to:
- stay at home (self-quarantine)
- avoid public settings – this means you should not attend work, school, childcare or university or go to other public places such as restaurants, cinemas or shopping centres and should not use public transport or taxis
- do this for 14 days after leaving mainland China or Iran (other than when seeking medical care).
If you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus disease (COVID-19):
- stay at home (self-quarantine)
- avoid public settings for 14 days after you last came into contact with them.
If you fall into the risk groups above and suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.
PLEASE KEEP TRIPLE ZERO (000) FOR EMERGENCIES ONLY.
SEEKING MEDICAL CARE.
If you think you may have coronavirus disease, please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 389. This hotline is serviced by Nurse-on-Call.
PLEASE KEEP TRIPLE ZERO (000) FOR EMERGENCIES.
Visiting your GP
DO NOT ENTER ANY HEALTH CARE FACILITY IF YOU SUSPECT YOU HAVE CORONAVIRUS WITHOUT CALLING AHEAD. Some of our most vulnerable people may be in the clinic and we need to protect them.
If you need to visit your GP, please call the clinic before going. The receptionist will advise you of the clinic procedure.
The reception will give you an appointment time and tell you to call when you are in the car park. Do not leave your car until you have called the receptionist back.
SELF-QUARANTINE/HOME ISOLATION GUIDELINES
If you have been in contact with a person with confirmed novel coronavirus infection while they were infectious, you must quarantine (isolate) yourself for 14 days after your last contact with that person.
If you have recently returned from travel to mainland China, or transited through, you must isolate yourself for 14 days after you left mainland China.
Stay at home or in your hotel
People who are recommended to be isolated should 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.
There is no need to wear masks in 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. If you must leave the home, such as to seek medical care, wear a surgical mask if you have one.
When in quarantine, you should monitor yourself for symptoms. Watch for:
- shortness of breath.
Other early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache and runny nose, muscle pain or diarrhoea.
What do I do if I get sick?
If you develop mild symptoms:
- Isolate yourself from other people and put on a mask if you have one; and
- Call a doctor or hospital and tell them your recent travel history.
If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing:
- Call 000 and ask for an ambulance and notify the officers of your recent travel history.
Wash your hands
Practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. You should:
- wash your hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet;
- avoid contact with others (including touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact); and
- cough and sneeze into your elbow.
Advice for others in the household
Other members of the household are not required to be isolated unless they have also travelled to mainland China in the past 14 days, or have been in close contact with you.
If you live in a private house, then it is safe for you to go outside into your garden or courtyard. Wear a surgical mask if there is anyone else there.
If you live in an apartment it is also safe for you to go outside into the garden while wearing a surgical mask. However, you should go quickly through any common areas on the way to the garden. Wear a surgical mask if you have to move through these areas. It’s safe to go onto your balcony if you have one.
Keeping spirits up in isolation at home
Being under quarantine can be frightening, particularly for young children. Suggestions include:
- Talk to the other members of the family about the infection. Understanding novel coronavirus will reduce anxiety.
- Reassure young children using age-appropriate language.
- Keep up a normal daily routine as much as possible.
- Think about how you have coped with difficult situations in the past and reassure yourself that you will cope with this situation too. Remember that quarantine won’t last for long.
- Keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media.
- Exercise regularly. Options could include exercise DVDs, dancing, floor exercises, yoga, walking around the backyard or using home exercise equipment, such as a stationary bicycle, if you have it. Exercise is a proven treatment for stress and depression.
Reducing boredom while in quarantine at home
Being confined to home for an extended period of time can cause boredom, stress and conflict. Suggestions include:
- Arrange with your employer to work from home, if possible.
- Ask your child’s school to supply assignments, work sheets and homework by post or email.
- Don’t rely too heavily on the television and technology. Treat quarantine as an opportunity to do some of those things you never usually have time for, such as board games, craft, drawing and reading.
SYMPTOMS OF CORONAVIRUS
The most common symptoms reported include:
- Breathing difficulties such as breathlessness
- Sore throat
- Fatigue or tiredness.
If you are not in any of the risk groups above, you should go about your daily life and travel and work or study as normal.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF AND MY FAMILY?
The best way to protect yourself and your family is to pay attention to good hand and respiratory hygiene.
You should pay close attention to good hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue – or cough into your elbow. Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.
Face masks are not recommended for use by members of the public in Victoria for the prevention of Coronavirus.
CAN MY CHILD GO TO SCHOOL?
Advice for attendance at schools, early childhood education services and TAFEs and training providers is available from the Department of Education.
CURRENT TRAVEL ADVICE
The current Australian Government advice is to not travel to China and Iran.
The government is also implementing travel restrictions on visitors from China and Iran who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents.
Visitors from mainland China and Iran who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, or their dependents will not be allowed entry into Australia. These restrictions will be reviewed by 7 March 2020.
Further information can be found on Smart Traveller.
ADVICE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE TRAVELLED OVERSEAS
The Victorian Government is recommending that people who have travelled to China, Iran, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or Thailand and become unwell seek medical advice and be tested for coronavirus.
There is no evidence of community transmission in Victoria at this time.
Additional cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 are expected in Victoria as this illness continues to spread across the world.
Medical practitioners have been advised to consider testing anyone with compatible illness who has recently travelled overseas, with a focus on current areas of high risk.