The following is information sourced from the Australian Government on the latest advice on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) :
What you need to know
Health authorities have identified coronavirus cases in Australia in January 2020. The virus originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, and the majority of initial cases were there, but has since spread to multiple countries around the world.
Currently in Australia, people most at risk of contracting the virus are those who have been in Countries with increased risk recently, or have been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19.
What is this coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The virus originating in Hubei Province, China, is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It had not been detected before this outbreak. It is currently known as “COVID-19”
How is the coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:
• Direct close contact with a person whilst they are infectious;
• Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection coughs or sneezes; or
• Touching objects or surfaces (such as door knobs or tables) contaminated from a coughor sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
COVID-19 spreads through close contact with an infected person; mostly face-to-face or within a household. It cannot jump across a room or be carried for long distances in the air so we should all go about our lives as normal.
A close contact could include any person meeting any of the following criteria:
living in the same household or household-like setting (for example, a boarding school or hostel)
direct contact with the body fluids or laboratory specimens of a confirmed case
a person who spent two hours or longer in the same room
face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes with the case in any other setting not listed above.
Who needs to be isolated at home?
If you have come back from overseas on or after midnight 15/3/2020, you must isolate yourself in your home for 14 days.
If you think you may have been a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 while you were overseas or in Australia, you must isolate yourself in your home for 14 days after last contact with the confirmed case.
Any healthcare worker or residential aged care worker who has been overseas in the previous 14 days should not attend work until they have been well for 14 days after leaving those countries
What does isolate in your home mean?
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, but it’s wise to as much as possible isolate yourself and keep at least 1.5m from them.
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.
What do I do if I develop symptoms?
If you develop symptoms (fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath) within 14 days of returning overseas or within 14 days of last contact of a confirmed case, you should contact a doctor for urgent assessment.
At Whittlesea Medical Clinic we would appreciate if you could speak with one of our staff members prior to coming into the clinic.
Please advice us of your travel history or that you may have been in contact with a potential case of coronavirus.
You must then remain isolated either in your home or a healthcare setting until Public Health authorities inform you it is safe for you to return to your usual activities.
Who needs to be tested?
Testing is available for anyone who is a suspected case of novel coronavirus – patients are asked to self isolate at home whilst awaiting results if they are not admitted to a health care facility.
The definition of a suspected case is as follows :
If the patient satisfies ONE clinical and ONE epidemiological criteria :
Clinical – fever > 38 degrees OR acute respiratory infection (eg/ shortness of breath or cough) with or without fever, AND
international travel in the 14 days prior to onset of illness, OR
close contact in the last 14 days with someone with confirmed COVID-19, OR
Healthcare workers and residential aged care workers
Aged and residential care residents
Patients who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Who is most at risk of a serious illness?
Some people who are infected may not get sick at all, some will get mild symptoms from which they will recover easily, and others may become very ill, very quickly.
From previous experience with other coronaviruses, the people at most risk of serious infection are:
• people with compromised immune systems, such as people with cancer
• elderly people
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
• very young children and babies, and people with diagnosed chronic medical conditions.
How is the virus treated?
There is no specific treatment for coronaviruses. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Most of the symptoms can be treated with supportive medical care.
How can we help prevent the spread of the virus?
Practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. You should
avoid large gatherings and crowds
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.
What about if I’m planning to travel overseas?
The Australian Government has announced travel restrictions and has advised that all people returning to Australia from Midnight on Sunday 15th March 2020 must be isolated at home for 14 days after return.
The Australian Government has also recommended that Australians reconsider the need to travel overseas at all.
Information is being updated regularly due to the frequent changes, further information on travel can be found on the Smart Traveller COVID-19 webpage.
Where can I get more information?
Visit the Australian Government Department of Health homepage at www.health.gov.au.
Call the Public Health Information Line on 1800 004 599.
Talk to your general doctor if you have concerns.
Articles provided by December 2018 - January 2019 Edition of Health News
Articles provided by October 2019 Edition of Health News