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TOGETHER WE CAN STOP THE SPREAD

Everything you need to know about COVID-19 in one place. Find out what help is available and get the latest updates. 

GOT SYMPTOMS? 

Call your GP before you visit. Or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 
Check whether you have symptoms - Healthdirect online symptom checker


ON THIS PAGE


LATEST UPDATES FROM THE FEDERAL DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

The Department of Health website provides up to date information for health professionals and patients on the evolving COVID-19 situation. 

Check their website for: 


LATEST AMA NEWS

AMA POSITION STATEMENTS

A list of the AMA's current position statements that relate to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19: AMA MEDIA COVERAGE

Read a recent selection of our most current media coverage in response to the AMA's work protecting doctors during the COVID-10 crisis.


AMA COVID-19 FACT FILES

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the AMA will publish The COVID-19 Fact Files – clinical articles from the frontline of health care, dealing with the issues at the core of keeping Australians healthy while the nation works together through the pandemic. The articles will be evidence-based and reflect the reality of life for doctors working daily to help all Australians survive and maintain their health in the time of COVID-19.

AUTHORTITLE
AMA Vice President Dr Chris ZappalaCOVID-19 TESTING AND INITIAL ASSESSMENT/CARE
AMA Vice President Dr Chris ZappalaCOVID-19 Transmission and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
AMA Vice President Dr Chris ZappalaCOVID-19 Pharmacologic Treatment
AMA Vice President Dr Chris ZappalaThe strain of SARS-COV-2
AMA Vice President Dr Chris ZappalaPredicting a worse COVID-19 outcome

AMA FACT SHEETS

COVID-19: Daily Fact Sheet

This infographic provides a quick view of the current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Australia. We update it every morning by 10:30 am based on data from States and Territories.

COVID-19: What is COVID-19 and how does it spread?

COVID-19 is a new virus that can affect your lungs and airways. The virus can spread from person to person, but good hygiene can prevent infection. Learn more.

COVID-19: Personal Hygiene Tips

Everyone can slow the spread of COVID-19 by washing their hands frequently, covering their coughs, putting tissues straight into a bin, avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth, cleaning regularly used objects and surfaces and ventilating their home or workspace. Learn more about what you can do.

COVID-19: Symptoms, testing and seeking medical attention

If you are sick and think you have symptoms of COVID-19, seek medical advice. If you want to talk to someone about your symptoms, call the National Coronavirus Helpline for advice. Learn more.

COVID-19: Essential Services and workers

What constitutes an ‘essential service’ and who is an ‘essential worker’? Learn more. This factsheet has been produced with the Law Council of Australia

COVID-19: medicine access

The Australian Government has approved a number of temporary changes to medicines regulation to ensure Australians can continue to access the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines they need, as the COVID-19 outbreak unfolds.

COVID-19: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a higher susceptibility to COVID-19 due to higher levels of underlying illness, overcrowding living conditions, and a lack of available health services. Learn more

COVID-19: School closures

Currently, schools, preschools and early childhood services remain open. This includes out of school hours care. Parents can choose to keep their children at home. Learn more about the latest updates on school closures.

COVID-19: Rights and Responsibilities under the Biosecurity Act

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 governments have introduced expansive measures in an attempt to limit the spread of the virus. This factsheet provides information on the rights and responsibilities of individuals in relation to these measures. This factsheet has been produced with the Law Council of Australia

COVID-19: Alcohol-use and COVID-19

During times of increased stress like the COVID-19 pandemic, people often turn to alcohol to relax - but this can have some harmful effects. Learn more.

COVID-19: Tobacco-use and COVID-19

People who smoke are generally at higher risk of respiratory tract infections, like lung and chest infections, and there is growing evidence that people who smoke may be at higher risk of COVID-19 and its complications. It’s important to remember stopping smoking has many health benefits, even beyond a link with COVID-19, so it’s always a good time to quit. Learn more about COVID-19 and tobacco-use.

COVID-19: Mental health

Discussions and concerns around the coronavirus outbreak and practising self-isolation can be stressful and impact our mental health and wellbeing. It’s natural to feel a range of emotions, such as stress, worry, anxiety, boredom, or low mood. The AMA has put together some general strategies and resources to help you maintain your mental health.

COVID-19: COFIT19 - Keep moving in your Bubble

As life as we know it changes and physical interaction is limited, being active is more important than ever. Together with Australasian College of Sport and Exercise we've put together tips for:

COVID-19: COVID Safe App

These resources explain how the COVIDSafe app will help to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It speeds up the process for notifying people who may have been exposed to coronavirus. Downloading the app is something you can do to protect you, your family, friends and the community.


Watch the latest AMA Videos on COVID-19

Follow the AMA on YouTube

 
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COVID TALKS - WMA COVID Talk with [Australia] Dr Mukesh Haikerwal AC




FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - GENERAL 

For more information call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA


WHAT IS COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 first originated in humans after being transmitted from animals and can now be transmitted from human-to-human via droplets.  

HOW DOES COVID-19 SPREAD?

Like the flu, COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person. The scientific evidence confirms that COVID-19 is spread by droplets. 

  • droplets being transmitted directly from an infected person to the mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose) of an uninfected person; or 
  • droplets being transmitted from the respiratory system of an infected person onto an external surface and subsequently picked up by an uninfected person and transferred to their mucous membranes (usually when they touch their face). The virus can survive on external surfaces for approximately 48 hours at room temperature. 

The incubation period (the time between exposure to the virus and the appearance of symptoms) is estimated at between 2 to 14 days.  

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?

Once infected, the symptoms of COVID-19 can appear very similar to a common cold, but also extend to severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease. 

 The most common symptoms are fever and a dry cough, and additional symptoms may include muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, and in some cases breathing difficulties.  

To date, approximately 80% of people with COVID-19 will only develop a mild infection, 14% will require routine hospitalisation, and 6-8% will require intensive care. It is important to understand that these are early numbers based on acute cases, and likely miss many asymptomatic infections. 

Check if you have symptoms - Healthdirect has an online symptom checker

WHEN IS TESTING FOR COVID-19 REQUIRED?

Due to a global shortage of COVID-19 test kits, the current advice from the Australian Government is that tests for COVID-19 should be restricted to people who have developed symptoms within 14 days of having contact with a confirmed case, or within 14 days of arriving in Australia from overseas; healthcare workers who work directly with patients and develop respiratory illness and fever; and people with community-acquired pneumonia with no clear cause.  

People presenting for COVID-19 testing should inform the medical facility before arriving, and provide clear and accurate information about their symptoms, travel history and recent contacts.  

WHO SHOULD GET TESTED?

The current Australian Government criteria for COVID-19 testing, based on advice from the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee, are:
  • anyone who develops a fever or acute respiratory infection AND:
  • has arrived in Australia from overseas within 14 days of developing symptoms; or
  • has been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within 14 days of developing symptoms; or
  • is a health worker working directly with patients; or
  • has severe community-acquired pneumonia with no clear cause.
On 25th March these criteria were expanded to include those with fever or acute respiratory infection:
  • Who are health workers or aged/residential care worker; or
  • Live in a geographically isolated area with an elevated risk of transmission; or
  • Live in aged and residential care, a rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community; a detention or correctional facility, a boarding school or a military base; or
  • Have been hospitalised with an unknown cause of symptoms.
Some states have expanded their testing criteria beyond the Australian Government criteria:
  • NSW and the ACT are also testing those with fever or acute respiratory infection who have connections to COVID-19 outbreak settings;
  • Tasmania and South Australia are also testing interstate travellers who have developed fever or acute respiratory infection within 7 days of arriving (SA) or 14 days of arriving (TAS).
  • Victoria is also testing anyone with fever or acute respiratory infection who is also Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF AND OTHERS?

 
  • HYGIENE 
  • SOCIAL DISTANCING 
  • SOCIAL ISOLATION

HYGIENE

Practising good hand and general hygiene is one of the most effective methods of slowing the spread of COVID-19. This includes washing hands frequently before and after eating; after going to the bathroom; and after returning home. Appropriate handwashing should take at least 20 seconds and involve washing all surfaces on the hands. Commonly missed areas include fingertips, thumbs, in between fingers, and the back of hands. Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue or elbow, and tissues disposed of immediately.  

Hands should be washed with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser after blowing the nose or touching the face.  

  • Handwashing 

Regularly washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of disease. If running water is not available, alcohol-based hand sanitiser is a good alternative, but will only be effective if your hands are not visibly dirty. Washing your hands should take at least 20 seconds - don't forget to scrub your fingertips, between your fingers and the backs of your hands as well as your palms.  More detailed advice on handwashing technique is available from Health Direct here  

  • Surgical Masks 

For uninfected people, wearing a surgical mask in public is unlikely to significantly reduce your risk of being infected with COVID-19. Healthy people do not need to wear surgical masks in public. However, people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, as well as those that come into close contact with them and those with suspected cases, should wear surgical masks when they interact with others and in public spaces. More detailed advice on surgical masks is available from the Australian Department of Health here. 

  • Touching your face 

Avoiding touching your face is an important way to slow the spread of COVID-19. The infection can be spread when you pick up virus-containing droplets from an external surface with your hands, and then transfer them onto your mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth). Unfortunately, touching your face is a very common human instinct, and often a reaction to stress - so it can be hard to stop completely. Tactics to reduce face-touching include folding your hands in your lap, wearing gloves, and even post-it remindersHealthline has produced a handy article on how to avoid touching your face here 

Other handy tips: 

  • Avoid handshakes, hugging and kissing as greetings; 
  • Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue or the crook of your elbow; 
  • Dispose of tissues immediately after using them;  
  • Clean commonly-touched surfaces (door handles, desks, benches, keyboards) daily; and 
  • Stay at home if you are sick. 

SOCIAL DISTANCING 

Social distancing is a proven method of stopping or slowing the spread of COVID-19 and involves reducing contact between people in both public and private spaces. Social distancing has proven a simple, powerful and effective tactic to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Useful social distancing measures include: 

  • cancelling public events and large family gatherings; 
  • reducing visits to public spaces like restaurants, libraries and shopping centres, and 
  • working from home or not attending workplaces where possible. 

When people do interact in public and private spaces, maintaining physical distance between each other can also make it harder for the virus to spread. Current advice from the Australian Government recommends maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 metres where possible. Avoiding handshakes or kissing as a form of greeting others is another important way to reduce physical contact.  

Wearing a mask in public is unlikely to reduce your risk of being infected, but is recommended for those in close contact with confirmed or suspected cases.  

PHYSICAL ISOLATION

Social isolation occurs when people who are infected with COVID-19 or suspected of being infected with COVID-19, limit their contact with other people as much as possible. Currently, some people with mild cases of COVID-19, and those with suspected cases, are self-isolating at home or in other confined environments. Close contacts of confirmed cases, as well as people who have arrived in Australia from overseas, are required to quarantine themselves at home. Quarantine differs from self-isolation in that it is a precautionary measure taken by people who are currently healthy.  

People who are required and able to self-isolate are advised to use private transport to travel to their isolation location, and cannot leave to visit public places other than a health facility. The Australian Government has produced detailed guidance for self-isolation, which can be accessed here 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I'M VULNERABLE?

Several groups of Australians are at a higher risk than the general population of being infected with COVID-19, and a higher risk than the general population of developing severe symptoms once infected.  

The following people should take extra precautions against becoming infected, including staying at home if possible: 

  • Older Australians: starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease, and this risk increases with age. The highest risk of serious illness and death is in people older than 80. 
  • People with compromised immune systems and/or existing chronic health conditions: these existing conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and autoimmune conditions, can make it harder for people's immune systems to fight the virus.  
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are at a higher risk because of the higher rate of chronic conditions in these populations.  
  • People living in group residential settings such as detention facilities and aged care facilities, where infections can spread quickly.  

Additional measures that you can take include:   

  • If you are immune-compromised, avoid staying with a person who is self-isolating (because they are a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have recently travelled to any country except those listed in the countries and areas of concern.) 
  • You should stay at least 2 metres away from people who are unwell if you are immune-compromised. 
  • It's also important that everyone helps to protect the safety of immunocompromised people living in our community. For example, if you’re unwell, avoid contact with someone who is immune-compromised. 
  • At this time, it wouldn’t make sense for someone who is immune-compromised to wear a mask when in public to decrease the risk of catching COVID-19. However, if your health care provider advises you to wear a mask when in public areas because you have a particularly vulnerable immune system, follow that advice. 
  • If you are taking immunosuppressive drugs, we advise that you do not stop this medication without first consulting your GP or specialist.   

I'M PREGNANT WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

Detailed information about the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies is yet to be determined. Pregnant women are at risk of more severe symptoms from the flu, but thus far do not appear to be at higher risk than the general population of severe COVID-19 symptoms. RANZCOG has prepared detailed advice for pregnant women, which can be accessed here 

SHOULD I STAY AT HOME?

If you don't meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing, but have symptoms of sickness or feel unwell, you should still stay at home and limit your contact with others. Your doctor can provide you with further advice. If you do meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing, you should self-isolate at home until you can attend a health facility to be tested, and remain self-isolated until you receive your test results.  

Those who have come into close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, MUST quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after their most recent contact with that person. More advice on close contacts and quarantine is available from the Department of Health 

WHEN SHOULD I SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION?

If you meet the testing criteria for COVID-19, call your doctor or hospital to advise them you want to be tested. They will provide you with advice about timing and relevant precautions, like wearing a mask and distancing yourself from others at the health facility. It's important that you provide clear and accurate information about your symptoms, travel history, and recent contacts.
 
Some people will be eligible to talk to their doctor over the phone or via video-chat, under new telehealth provisions announced by the Australian Government.
 
You are eligible for a bulk billed telehealth consultation if you:
  • have been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but are not a patient of a hospital; OR
  • are isolating yourself in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee; OR
  • are more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus because you are at least 70 years old; at least 50 years old or over if of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; pregnant; a parent of a child under 12 months; or a person under treatment for chronic health conditions or who is immune-compromised; OR
  • Meet the current national testing criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.
 
Some Doctor practices may charge a fee to provide a telehealth consultation if you are not represented in the list above. This is because you don’t qualify for a Medicare rebate under the current rules.
 

WHAT DO I DO IF I'M DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19?

If you get a positive test result and are diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the advice of your medical practitioner and local public health unit. You may need to be admitted to hospital, and you will need to provide detailed information about your recent movements and contacts. For some people with mild infections, it may be possible to self-isolate at home.

The Australian Government has produced detailed advice for self-isolating, including how to care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19, here