Coronavirus

Health Hub

Coronavirus

Definition

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus.

Description

WHAT IS A CORONAVIRUS?
Coronaviruses form a large family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses. These include the common cold as well as more serious diseases like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). COVID-19 is a newly discovered coronavirus.

Many animals also have coronavirus-related illnesses. When one of those viruses mutates and passes onto humans, the disease can be more severe because the human body has not developed immunity to it. Both the SARS and MERS diseases are examples of this happening in recent years1.

WHO IS AT RISK?

The people most at risk of getting the virus are those who2:

  • have been to a country or area in the last 14 days that has a high risk of COVID-19
  • have been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • are in correctional and detention facilities
  • are in group residential settings.

The following people are at increased risk of developing serious illness if they get COVID-19:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, 50 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • those 70 years or older or 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions
  • those with a chronic condition or compromised immune system
  • people living in an aged care facility
  • people with a disability.

Symptoms

COVID-19 symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick, very quickly. The initial symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu. Common signs of COVID-19 infection include:

The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • chills or night sweats
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • difficulty breathing
  • headaches
  • muscle pain (myalgia)
  • loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
  • distortion of sense of taste (dysgeusia)
  • nausea/vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • joint pains
  • loss of appetite
  • runny nose

Most people who are infected with COVID-19 experience a mild to moderate respiratory illness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical advice and get tested.

Treatment

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. There is also no cure, however medical care can treat most of the symptoms. Seek medical
attention if:

  • you think you might have COVID-19
  • in the last 14 days you have been to a country or area with a high risk of COVID-19
  • you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19

PREVENTION (AUS)
A vaccine teaches your body to fight the infection by stopping you from catching COVID-19, or at least making it less deadly.

The Australian Government has secured COVID-19 vaccine from manufacturers Pfizer and Astra Zeneca. This ensures vaccination will be available to the entire Australian population. The COVID-19 vaccine will be voluntary and free.  Both vaccines are safe for all age groups and effective against serious illness and death from COVID-19. The vaccine you receive may depend on3:

  • when and where you will be vaccinated and
  • the clinical guidelines that determine who each vaccine is safe for

People at increased risk of exposure, infection and transmission of COVID-19 will be offered the vaccine first. The national roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines will be staged as follows:

Phase 1a

  • Quarantine and border workers
  • Frontline health care workers
  • Aged care and disability care staff
  • Aged care and disability care residents

Phase 1b

  • Elderly adults aged 80 years and over
  • Elderly adults aged 70-79 years
  • Other health care workers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people > 55
  • Younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
  • Critical and high-risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing

Phase 2a

  • Adults aged 60-69 years
  • Adults aged 50-59 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 18-54
  • Other critical and high risk workers

Phase 2b

  • Balance of adult population
  • Catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases

Phase 3

  • < 16 if recommended

You can also reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions4:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Maintain at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.
  • Avoid going to crowded places.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands.
  • Face masks help stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) but feels well. Face masks are an additional protective physical barrier to protect you and your loved ones.
  • Stay at home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority.

PREVENTION (GENERIC)
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by having the COVID-19 vaccination (see your GP for advice) and taking some simple precautions5:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Maintain at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.
  • Avoid going to crowded places.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands.
  • Face masks help stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs, or sneezes, including someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) but feels well. Face masks are an additional protective physical barrier to protect you and your loved ones.
  • Stay at home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others.
  • If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention, but call by telephone in advance if possible and follow the directions of your local health authority.

NOTES (Aust)
Wearing a face mask protects you and your community by providing an additional physical barrier to coronavirus (COVID-19).  For a face mask to be effective, it must be fit well and cover your nose and mouth. This means that face shields, bandanas, or scarves or loose snoods, loose buffs or loose neck gaiters on their own will not provide effective protection from COVID-19.

Call 1800 020 080 if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19) or help with the COVIDSafe app. This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you need to get tested, you can:

  • attend a free COVID-19 respiratory clinic
  • contact your doctor and they will arrange the test, this may attract a fee

COVID-19 respiratory clinics are dedicated health centres located around the country, focusing on testing people with symptoms of respiratory infection.

TREATMENT OPTIONS
Vaccination is a safe and effective means of preventing serious illness and death from COVID-19. There is  no cure for COVID-19, however medical care can treat most of the symptoms. Seek medical attention and testing if:

  • you think you might have COVID-19
  • in the last 14 days you have been to a country or area with a high risk of COVID-19
  • you have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19

WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE COVID-19
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, stay at home. You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection. Follow these steps:

  • Stay at home and ask other people to get food and other necessities for you and leave them at your front door.
  • Rest, drink plenty of fluid, and eat nutritious food.
  • Only people who usually live with you should be in your home. Do not let in visitors.
  • Stay in a separate room from other family members and use a dedicated bathroom if possible.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • If you need to leave home to seek medical attention, wear a surgical mask and practise regular hand washing to protect others6.

PHARMACIST'S ADVICE
Ask your Pharmacist for advice.

  1. Ask your Pharmacist for the most up-to-date information about the COVID-19 vaccination.
  2. Ensure everyone in your family has enough medication at home. If any prescriptions are due for a refill, make sure you submit them to your Pharmacy.
  3. If you do become unwell, ask your Pharmacist if medical supplies can be delivered to your home.
  4. To help prevent spreading or contracting the virus, practise regular hand washing. Soap is available from your Pharmacy. Hand sanitiser gel may also be available and can be used if soap and water are not available.
  5. Surgical masks can help prevent the spread of infection. These are available from your Pharmacy.
  6. If you do become unwell, paracetamol or ibuprofen will help to control your fever. Make sure you have enough on hand for yourself and family members. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
  7. It is also important to stay well hydrated. Powders and solutions containing electrolytes are available from your Pharmacy.

 

Source 

1. About coronaviruses. Health Direct. Australian Govt Dept of Health. Last updated June 2020. Available from URL: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/about-coronaviruses

2. What you need to know about Coronavirus (COVID-19). Aust Govt Dept of Health. Last updated 8 July 2020. Available from URL: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-COVID-19

3. COVID-19 vaccines. Aust Govt Dept of Health. Cited 17 Dec 2021. Available from URL: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/COVID-19-vaccines

4. Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the public. World Health Organisation. Last updated 4 June 2020. Available from URL: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

5. Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the public. World Health Organisation. Last updated 4 June 2020. Available from URL: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

6. Coronavirus. Aust Govt Dept of Health. Cited Mar 2020. Available from URL: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov#what-is-coronavirus-covid19

Scroll to top