COVID-19 – Frequently asked questions



What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illness in humans and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. Human coronaviruses generally cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve to infect and spread among humans, causing severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which emerged in 2012.

What is the COVID-19 virus?

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where it has caused a large and ongoing outbreak. It has since spread more widely in China. Cases have since been identified in several other countries. The COVID-19 virus is closely related to a bat coronavirus.

There is much more to learn about how COVID-19 is spread, its severity, and other features associated with the virus; epidemiological and clinical investigations are ongoing.

Outbreaks of new coronavirus infections among people are always a public health concern. The situation is evolving rapidly.

How is the virus spread?

Human coronaviruses are spread from someone infected with COVID-19 virus to other close contacts with that person through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.

The time between when a person is exposed to the virus and when symptoms first appear is typically 5 to 6 days, although may range from 2 to 14 days. For this reason, people who might have been in contact with a confirmed case are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Most COVID-19 cases appear to be spread from people who have symptoms. A small number of people may have been infectious before their symptoms developed.

How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?

According to the World Health Organization, it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

What are the symptoms?

Patients may have fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and other symptoms.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

The first symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza (flu) infections are often very similar. They both cause fever and similar respiratory symptoms, which can then range from mild through to severe disease, and sometimes can be fatal.

Both viruses are also transmitted in the same way, by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. As a result, the same public health measures, such as hand hygiene (hand washing), good respiratory etiquette (coughing into your elbow or into a tissue and immediately disposing of the tissue) and good household cleaning are important actions to prevent both infections.

The speed of transmission is an important difference between the two viruses. Influenza typically has a shorter incubation period (the time from infection to appearance of symptoms) than COVID-19. This means that influenza can spread faster than COVID-19.

While the range of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the fraction with severe disease appears to be higher for COVID-19. While most people have mild symptoms, approximately 15% of people have severe infections and 5% require intensive care in a hospital ICU. The proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections are higher than for influenza infections.

I have travelled to another country. What should I do?

If you have been overseas in the last 14 days, you should:

  • self isolate yourself from others for 14 days from the day you returned or arrived from overseas
    and
  • monitor yourself for symptoms

If you develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, please:

  • call your doctor or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. When you call, tell them where you have travelled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case.
    or (if your symptoms are severe)
  • visit your local Emergency Department. When you arrive, immediately tell staff where you have travelled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case.

If you have symptoms it is important that don’t go to work, school/university/childcare, the gym, or public areas, and you should not use public transport, taxis, or ride-sharing services. If you need to seek medical care wear a surgical mask if available when attending. You should not use public transport, taxis, or ride-sharing services to get to your doctor or emergency department.

Should I avoid attending public events, for example, religious celebrations, music festivals or sporting matches?

On 18 March 2020, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard made an Order under Section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010 to force the immediate cancellation of major events with more than 500 people.

The object of this Order is to deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences by giving a Ministerial direction that prohibits mass gatherings of 500 or more people in outdoor spaces and 100 people or more in indoor spaces, subject to certain exclusions.

Critical workforce, such as healthcare professionals and emergency services workers, are also recommended to limit their attendance at non-essential meetings or conferences.

The advice on mass gatherings does not apply to attendance at schools, universities or child care centres. While all Australians are encouraged to exercise personal responsibility for social distancing, there are no current restrictions recommended on attending other settings, such as shopping centres, or using public transport.

For non-essential organised gatherings with fewer than 500 attendees, NSW Health recommends that organisers:

  • remind attendees and staff not to attend if they are feeling unwell
  • remind attendees and staff they must not attend if they have travelled overseas in the past 14 days
  • ensure emergency management plans are up to date
  • brief staff on how to practice good hygiene and making it easy for staff and attendees to practice good hygiene
  • have adequate hand washing facilities available

NSW Health also encourages people considering attending these gatherings to:

  • stay home and not attend if you are feeling unwell
  • stay home and not attend if you have travelled overseas in the past 14 days
  • practice good personal hygiene including:
    • cleaning your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub
    • covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow.
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 For more information, refer to Public Health (COVID-19 Mass Gatherings) Order 2020.

How long does the COVID-19 infection last?

The infection period for the virus will vary from person to person. Mild symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual may resolve over just a few days. Similar to influenza, for an individual with other ongoing health issues, such as a respiratory condition, recovery may take weeks and in severe cases could be potentially fatal.

What if I don’t have Medicare?

Most people that are not eligible for Medicare will have health or travel insurance. For those that do not have adequate insurance coverage, NSW Health will waive these costs. This includes the waiving of payment and debt recovery procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment.

These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.[back to top]

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

Infection with COVID-19 is diagnosed by finding evidence of the virus in respiratory samples such as swabs from the back of the nose and throat or fluid from the lungs. Samples for testing can be taken directly by GPs or at a range of private pathology sites across the state that are suitable for collection of COVID-19, or at public hospitals across NSW.

What should I do if I come into contact with a person with COVID-19?

If you have been identified as a contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection in Australia, the local public health unit will contact you with advice. You need to isolate yourself at home for 14 days after contact with the infected person, and to monitor your health and report any symptoms.

Person to person spread of coronaviruses generally occurs between people who are close contacts with one another. A close contact is typically someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, with a person that was infectious. The public health unit will keep in touch with people who are close contacts of patients with COVID-19 infection. If any symptoms develop contacts must call the public health unit to report those symptoms.

If your contact with the person was less than this, there is a much smaller risk of you being infected. However, as a precaution you must still monitor your health until 14 days after you were last exposed to the infectious person. If you develop symptoms including a fever and/or respiratory signs, please call ahead to talk to a doctor or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222. Tell your doctor that you have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. The doctor may tell you to attend your nearest emergency department – if so when you arrive, immediately tell staff you have had contact with someone with COVID-19.

More information about home isolation is available for:

Practice simple hygiene by:

  • making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow.

What should I do if I come into contact with a person who has been identified as a contact?

If you have been in contact with a person identified as a close contact of another person with confirmed COVID-19 infection, you do not need to self-isolate (although the close contact does) and don’t need take any other special precautions.

If a close contact develops symptoms and is confirmed as a COVID-19 case, public health authorities will determine who, if anyone, has been in close contact with them while they were infectious, and these people will be directed to self-isolate.

Who is most at risk?

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting COVID-19 coronavirus infections are those who have:

  • recently returned from overseas
  • been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

There is also evidence of limited spread of COVID-19 in the community in Australia.

Based on what we know so far about COVID-19 and what we know about other coronaviruses, those at greatest risk of serious infection are:

  • people aged 65 years and over
  • Aboriginal people (as they have higher rates of chronic illness)
  • people with chronic medical conditions, such as lung disease, heart disease, kidney disease, neurological conditions and diabetes
  • people with impaired immune systems (such as people who have cancer or HIV, or who take high dose corticosteroids).

People living in group residential settings are at greater risk of being exposed to outbreaks of COVID-19 if a case is diagnosed in a resident or staff member. This includes:

  • people living in residential aged care facilities and disability group homes
  • people in detention facilities
  • students in boarding schools
  • people on Cruise Ships.

People living in some group residential settings are also more likely to have conditions that make them at greater risk of serious COVID-19 infection.

I’m pregnant, should I be worried?

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) is the peak body for obstetrics and gynaecology and women’s health in Australia and New Zealand. RANZCOG has updated its advice and information for pregnant women and their families about COVID-19.

Read the latest on their website.

How is it prevented?

Some simple measures significantly reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and of spreading it:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or use your elbow, not your hands
  • Avoid close contact with people unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms, and stay home if you have these symptoms.
  • Avoid touching your face and avoid shaking hands with others.
  • Try to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from others as much as possible, and avoid crowded places.

Is there a cure or vaccine?

There are no vaccines that protect against COVID-19.

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Early diagnosis and general supportive care are important. Most of the time, symptoms will resolve on their own. People who have serious disease with complications can be cared for in hospital.

Has my doctor been informed?

Health workers in NSW public hospital emergency departments as well as community-based general practitioners are aware of the symptoms and actions to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through careful infection control measures.

What if I am unable to speak to my doctor?

If you are after medical advice and your general practitioner is not able to speak with you, you can call healthdirect on 1800 022 222. They will be able to discuss your symptoms and travel history with you, to help decide if COVID-19 testing is recommended.

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

NSW Health is recommending people with acute, cold, flu-like symptoms who are returned travellers, or a contact of a confirmed case, be tested for COVID-19.

Samples for testing can be taken directly by GPs or at a range of private pathology sites across the state that are suitable for collection of COVID-19, or at public hospitals across NSW.

COVID-19/Flu clinics are being established within all Local Health Districts across NSW to assess and diagnose patients with possible COVID-19 infections and other respiratory illness such as influenza as we approach the winter season.

NSW Health is also expanding the laboratory capacity across public hospitals and private laboratories to scale up the analytical testing to determine the results of those tests.

Currently, NSW Health laboratories have capacity to perform more than 1,000 tests a day at three public hospitals at Randwick, Westmead, and Liverpool, and they will soon be joined by four more hospitals: Royal North Shore, Royal Prince Alfred, John Hunter, and Nepean.

NSW Health has already engaged private pathology laboratories to assist in the collection of samples from people who require COVID-19 testing.

Testing is recommended for all returning overseas travellers who develop symptoms within 14 days of return, contacts of cases who develop symptoms, people admitted to hospital with severe respiratory infection irrespective of travel history, other special circumstances such as where there is an outbreak of respiratory infections without an identified cause such as flu.

This testing can take up to two days to complete and report back.

How are other coronaviruses tested?

COVID-19 is one kind of coronavirus, but there are other kinds of coronaviruses that have infected people for many years around the world, including in Australia. If you are sick with a respiratory infection (for example you have a cough, runny nose, sore throat or fever), the doctor may order a swab from the back of your nose or throat for testing. Many laboratories will test the swab for several different viruses. This test is called a multiplex viral respiratory panel, which often include tests for these other coronaviruses. These tests currently do not test for COVID-19 and do not indicate whether it is present or absent.

Are people in NSW at risk?

COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where it has caused a large and ongoing outbreak. It has since spread more widely in many other countries.

NSW Health has developed and exercised a range of procedures for case finding, diagnosis, and contact tracing for high consequence infectious diseases (such as pandemic influenza, SARS, MERS, and emerging infections) should they occur in NSW. These procedures are being used to identify contacts of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NSW.

What arrangements are in place for checking people at airports?

The Australian Government has put in place protective measures at all international ports. For the most recent advice from the Australian Government, please visit Department of Health -Coronavirus (COVID-19).

What arrangements are in place for checking people who arrive at sea ports?

For each cruise ship arriving into NSW from overseas, a NSW Health expert panel conducts a risk assessment based on the ports visited, whether passengers and crew have a risk of exposure to COVID-19, whether the ship’s doctor has identified a respiratory outbreak on board, and the results of test results done on board the ship.

Following this risk assessment, further assessment may be done when the ship docks, including checking people with fever and respiratory symptoms or who have risk of exposure to COVID-19, and testing them for respiratory infections, including COVID-19. As there is an incubation period (before symptoms develop and tests are positive) for all infections including COVID-19, screening people for disease is not a failsafe, and is only one piece of the assessment.

Cruise ships have large number of passengers (often thousands), many of whom are older and have chronic medical conditions. Respiratory infections (unrelated to COVID-19) among passengers and crew are common on cruise ships. Cruise ships are responsible for, and have policies to prevent and manage outbreaks of disease on board.

Australians on cruise ships

An outbreak of COVID-19 occurred on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was docked in Japan. Although initial reports indicated that a person on the Westerdam ship in Cambodia had been infected, the infection has not been confirmed.

If you are concerned about someone on one of the Diamond Princess, please call the DFAT consular emergency line.

For more information see the Australian Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19).

What is the public health response to COVID-19?

Infection with COVID-19 is a notifiable condition under the NSW Public Health Act 2010, so doctors and pathology laboratories are required to notify NSW Health of all people suspected or confirmed to have the infection.

Public health unit staff will investigate all cases to find out how the infection occurred, identify other people at risk of infection, implement control measures and provide other advice.[back to top]

Protecting against COVID-19

How can I protect myself / my family?

The best way to protect yourself is the same as you would against any respiratory infection. Practice good hygiene by:

  • making sure to clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Make sure you stay home if you are sick.

What can I wash my hands with if I don’t have soap?

The key to handwashing is to wash well and wash often. You need a detergent (surfactant) and water. If you don’t have soap or handwash, you can use:

  • body wash
  • combined body wash/shampoo
  • shampoo.

Any of these alternatives will work for handwashing as they contain surfactant to help disrupt organic material.

Do face masks protect against COVID-19? Which face masks?

Face masks are not recommended for the general population.

People who have symptoms and might be infected with COVID-19 are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to anyone else.

Health care workers who are caring for patients with suspected COVID-19 should use appropriate personal protective equipment to protect themselves against COVID-19. For more information refer to Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) – Coronavirus COVID-19.

Are there enough face masks in NSW?

Additional supplies of face masks have been distributed for specific health workers by NSW Health and the Australian Government to meet current demand. NSW Health will continue to monitor supplies of face masks in NSW.

Do hand dryers prevent COVID-19?

Hand dryers are not effective in killing or preventing COVID-19 on their own, and they may increase the risk of spread of COVID-19 if used on hands that have not been cleaned properly.

To protect yourself against COVID-19, you should clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser. If you have washed your hands, dry them thoroughly by using paper towels. If there are no paper towels available, use a hot air dryer or let your hands air dry. Your hands must be dried completely.

If you are using hand towels to dry your hands, such as in the bathroom at home, it’s important to wash them regularly. If someone in your home is unwell, they should use their own hand towel.

Is it safe to use public drinking fountains or water bubblers?

Public drinking water supplies are safe to drink, however the surfaces around the fountain including the spout and button/lever could pose a transmission risk for COVID-19 and other germs. At this stage, it is not certain how long viruses that cause COVID-19 survives on surfaces.

NSW Health recommends that you not place your mouth on the spout of a water fountain. Test the water flow and let the water run for a few seconds before drinking the water without putting your mouth or lips on the spout.

If the fountain requires you to push a button or lever, clean the surface first or use your elbow. Clean your hands afterwards with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. NSW Health recommends that organisations carry out more frequent cleaning of water bubblers and fountains.

How is hospital equipment and furniture being cleaned to protect against COVID-19?

Hospitals ensure surfaces are cleaned and disinfected after each suspected case, as are ambulances. There is an Infection Prevention and Control Practice Handbook that outlines the appropriate steps for cleaning a room to ensure there are no viruses remaining. Staff also wear protective gear when cleaning to protect themselves and limit any spread of infection.

Is it safe for me to go to a hospital where a COVID-19 case is?

NSW Health works with its hospitals to maintain high infection control standards. NSW hospitals and clinicians are well trained in caring for people with infectious diseases, and in preventing their transmission to other patients.

How do we know the people who have had COVID-19 are no longer infectious?

People with confirmed COVID-19 infection stay in isolation under the care of medical specialists until they are no longer experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Before they are released from isolation, they have tests to see if they still have COVID-19 and the specialist care team assesses they are no longer infectious. Once they are discharged they have a follow up assessment by the medical team to make sure they remain well.[back to top]

Work, university, school and travel arrangements

I have a holiday / work trip. Should I cancel my trip?

The Australian Government provides up-to-date information and advice for safe travel overseas. If you are heading overseas to destinations which may have been affected, check the advice on Smart Traveller.

Can my child attend school?

Any student or staff member who over the last 14 days has been overseas should be in self-isolation for 14 days after they returned. They are excluded from school and should not return to school or child care services for a period of 14 days after arriving, as the COVID-19 incubation period can be as long as two weeks.

Staff and students who have been identified as close contacts of a person diagnosed with COVID-19 during their infectious period must also self-isolate at home, and should not attend school or childcare settings until 14 days after their last contact with the infected person.

Can my child visit aged care facilities?

As children can spread a range of respiratory infections, such as influenza and RSV, with only mild symptoms, we recommend that aged care facilities do not have groups of children attend the facilities as we grapple with an early influenza season and potentially increasing spread of COVID-19.

Anyone who is sick, including children and even with minimal symptoms, should defer their visit until they are well.

Do I need a medical certificate clearing me for work, school, university or other settings?

No. If you do not have any symptoms there is no testing that can be done to predict whether or not you will become unwell. It is not possible to issue a ‘medical clearance certificate’.

Once 14 days have passed since you returned from overseas, you have passed the time in which you would become sick if you were exposed to COVID-19. If you are still completely well 14 days after you arrived then you will not get COVID-19 from your time overseas, and you can cease self-isolation and return to work, school and university.

Do I need to isolate myself if I have returned from holiday?

If you have been overseas in the last 14 days (including transit), you should stay at home and isolate yourself for 14 days after you returned. You should watch out for symptoms.

If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel, you should:

  • Call your doctor or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. When you call, tell them where you have travelled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case.
    or (if your symptoms are severe)
  • visit your local Emergency Department. When you arrive, immediately tell staff where you have travelled or if you have been in contact with a confirmed case.

It is important if you have symptoms you should not go to work, school/university/childcare, the gym, or public areas, and you should not use public transport, taxis, or ride-sharing services. If you need to seek medical care wear a surgical mask if available when attending.

If I am worried about having COVID-19, can I ask to get tested?

If you develop fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath and other symptoms and have travelled overseas in the 14 days before developing symptoms, you should see your GP or visit your local Emergency Department to be tested for COVID-19. If you are visiting your GP, please call ahead before seeing your doctor and and tell them where you have travelled.

If you are become unwell with these symptoms without travel you should see your local GP and discuss your symptoms. There are other illnesses such as influenza that your GP may wish to test you for that can cause your symptoms.

My work is saying that I need to get tested for COVID-19 as I have travelled recently – what should I do?

There is no need for you to be tested unless you develop fever, cough, runny nose, and shortness of breath or other symptoms and have travelled overseas in the 14 days before developing symptoms. You should see your GP or visit your local Emergency Department to be tested for COVID-19. If you are visiting your GP, please call ahead beforehand and tell them where you have travelled. You should self-isolate and exclude yourself from work until your test result is available.

If you are become unwell with these symptoms without travel you should see your local GP and discuss your symptoms. There are other illnesses such as influenza that your GP may wish to test you for that can cause your symptoms.[back to top]

Home isolation

Do I need to be separate from other people in my home if I am isolating?

Yes. If you are sharing your home with others, you should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible. Wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as another person, and when seeking medical care. Use a separate bathroom, if available.

Make sure that you do not share a room with people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.

Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while you are isolating.

More information about home isolation is available for:

Someone in my household recently returned from overseas or has been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and is self-isolating. Do I need to self-isolate too?

Other members of the household are not required to be isolated unless they have also:

  • been overseas in the last 14 days
  • been a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Make sure you maintain a safe distance from that person at all times but support them as much as possible to maintain their self-isolation.

How can I access groceries and medicines while in home isolation?

If you need groceries or medicines (including prescription medicines), ask a family member or friend (who is not in isolation) to deliver them to your home or shop for groceries online. To prevent infecting other people, make sure you wear a mask when receiving a delivery or have the groceries left at your door.

When someone has finished 14 days isolation, do they need to see their GP?

If you are well at the end of 14 days self-isolation, you can resume your normal lifestyle.

Are you worried that you or someone you know may have or has COVID-19; or are anxious about being in isolation and would you like to speak to someone about it?

Contact one of the services below for support or talk to your general practitioner.

  • Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14 or Lifeline Australia
    A crisis support service that provides short term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551800 or Kids Helpline
    A free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years.
  • NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
    Mental health crisis telephone service in NSW.

Do you have any problem sleeping? ​

Healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. Everyone, from children to older adults, can benefit from practicing good sleep habits. The following habits and practices will help you sleep well.

  1. Go to bed at the same time each day.
  2. Get up at the same time each day.
  3. Don’t nap during the day.
  4. Reduce or cut out alcohol and stimulants (coffee, tea, tobacco, soft drinks), particularly at night.
  5. Avoid using sleeping tablets.
  6. Get regular exercise each day, but not just prior to going to bed.
  7. Set aside time during the day to deal with problems (don’t take them to bed where you will think about them).
  8. Read or watch television in another area away from the bed​.
  9. Try to make the hour before going to sleep as calm as possible by reading, or trying a guided relaxation program​.
  10. Keep the bedroom comfortable, dark and quiet.
  11. Try not to lie in bed worrying about not sleeping.
  12. If not asleep after 30 minutes, get up and do something quiet such as reading or watching TV, and go back to bed when you are sleepy.

Social distancing

What is social distancing?

Social distancing means we reduce the number of close physical and social contacts we have with one another.

When social distancing actions are combined with good personal hygiene measures the spread of a pandemic through the community can be slowed. This helps protect the most vulnerable members of the community and reduces the impact of the pandemic on essential, life-saving health services.

Social distancing is an effective measure, but it is recognised that it cannot be practised in all situations and the aim is to generally reduce potential for transmission.

While practising social distancing, people can travel to work (including public transport). For non-essential activities outside the workplace or attendance at schools, universities and childcare – social distancing includes:

  • avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others
  • avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example family celebrations
  • attempting to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people where possible, for example when they are out and about in public place.
  • avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people.
  • avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment.

For more information about social distancing, refer to COVID-19 – Advice for the NSW community.

Who should practice social distancing?

Everyone should practice social distancing, as it reduces the potential for transmission.

For more information about social distancing, refer to COVID-19 – Advice for the NSW community.

Is it safe for me to go to the gym?

Keeping fit remains important. If you are well and have not been asked to self-isolate then you can go to the gym. Don’t go to the gym if you are unwell.

Try to go to the gym when it’s less crowded. When at the gym, you should use wipes provided before you use each piece of equipment. Gym classes are currently OK, but this advice may change.

Gyms should ensure that they are cleaning regularly, using appropriate disinfectant.

Bulk-buying

Should I be bulk-buying items to prepare?

There is no need to bulk-buy products at supermarkets including toilet paper, paracetamol and canned food.

It is prudent for households to have a small stock of non-perishable groceries to cover the event that in the coming months the household has been asked to self-isolate for 14 days. However, it’s important to note the role of family and friends in supporting those in isolation and also to note that online grocery delivery services are now available in most areas of NSW.

Pets and animals

Can pets be infected with COVID-19?

While COVID-19 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now mainly spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in Australia might be a source of infection with this new virus. There have been no reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in Australia.

There is also no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.

Can I be infected with COVID-19 from Australian bats?

At this stage, there is no evidence that bats (or any other animals) carry the COVID-19 virus in Australia. However, Australian bats can carry other serious infections, such as Australian bat lyssavirus and Hendra virus so they are best avoided. You should also avoid bats overseas.

Where can I find more information?

Sources: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/

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