What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.
COVID-19 is a new virus that can cause an infection in people, including a severe respiratory illness.
The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
How is coronavirus spread?
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.
What is close contact?
Close contact means greater than 15 minutes face-to-face or the sharing of a closed space for more than two hours with a confirmed case. The contact may be during the 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms and until the case is no longer considered infectious.
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.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Many people who contract COVID–19 will suffer only mild symptoms. However early indications are that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.
The most common coronavirus symptoms reported include:
- Breathing difficulties such as breathlessness
- Sore throat
- Fatigue or tiredness.
Who is most at risk of coronavirus?
If you have travelled overseas or have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 you are are at highest risk of infection.
Elderly or have pre-existing medical conditions
Many people will suffer only mild symptoms, however, early indications are that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart and lung disease are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms. Read the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) factsheet for people aged over 65 years (Word) for more information.
What if I have travelled overseas?
If you have been overseas upon your return you must stay at home (self-quarantine) for 14 days, other than when seeking medical care.
You must also:
- 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
- not allow visitors into your home - only people who usually live in the household should be in the home.
- stay in a different room to other people as much as possible.
If you begin to feel unwell and develop a fever or shortness of breath, a cough or respiratory illness, you should call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice. This number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I am feeling unwell, what should I do?
If you are in any of these risk categories and begin to feel unwell and develop a fever or shortness of breath, a cough or respiratory illness either during your period of isolation (self-quarantine), or in the 14 days since arriving home from international travel, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Call ahead to your GP or emergency department and mention your overseas travel before you arrive at the doctor’s office so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.
You can use our self-assessment tool to help you decide if you should be tested.
If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance and tell the operator your recent travel history.
I have been asked to self-isolate, what does this mean?
This document has been developed to support Australians who have been asked to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
- Factsheet – confirmed case (Word)
- Factsheet – suspected case (Word)
- Factsheet – close contact (Word)
- Home Isolation Guidance - Australian Federal Government
If you are concerned please call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.
What can I do to reduce my risk of coronavirus infection?
- Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
- Stay at home if you feel sick. If you take medication make sure you have enough.
- Phone your doctor or the hotline – 1800 675 398 – if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.
- Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep.
- Wearing a face mask is not necessary if you are well.
COVID-19 and family violence
It is important that anyone experiencing family violence knows that this is never okay, no matter the circumstances or the situation. With the impact of physical distancing rules, isolation and stress on families, there has been a spike in reports of domestic violence in the broader community. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help or support, please seek help.
Call 000 for police if you are immediate danger.
To find local services near you and phone support lines: Barwon Health Family Violence resources
Help stop the spreadFind out more:
- DHHS Victoria
- DHHS Coronavirus translated resources (other languages)
- DHHS Coronavirus resources for Aboriginal communities
Last Modified: Monday, 22 June 2020
Questions or concerns about COVID-19?
Victorian Coronavirus hotline
- Ph 1800 675 398
Barwon Health COVID-19 Screening Clinic
- Ph 4215 4445