🦠 What to do if You have a suspected case of Coronavirus in Australia?

Information for a Suspected Case

You have been identified as being at risk of infection with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and you have now developed symptoms. You must isolate yourself in your home or health care setting until Public Health authorities inform you it is safe for you to return to your usual activities.

Please read this information carefully.

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What does isolate yourself 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. 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 is this virus?

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 seen in mainland China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It has not been detected before this outbreak. Most people currently infected live in, or have travelled to mainland China. There have been some cases of 2019-nCoV reported in other countries. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is now evidence that it can spread from person-to-person.

How is the virus spread?

The virus is most likely to spread from person to person through:

  •         direct contact with a person whilst they are infectious;
  •         contact with droplets when a person with a confirmed infection coughs or sneezes; or
  •         touching objects or surfaces (such as doorknobs or tables) that were contaminated by droplets from secretions coughed or sneezed from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.

Close contacts of a person with a confirmed infection (such as people staying in the same house or sharing a closed space for a prolonged length of time) are most at risk of infection.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms can include (but are not limited to) fever, cough, fatigue, sore throat, and/or shortness of breath.

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For how long can a person spread the infection to other people?

The length of time that a person is infectious, that is, can spread the infection to others, is not yet known. However, there has been emerging evidence of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic infection and pre-symptomatic transmission in at least one case cluster. It is therefore likely that a person can spread the infection from before the time they first develop symptoms until up to one day after symptoms stop.

What happens now?

Your doctor will arrange for you to be tested for the infection. It may take a few days for the test results to be returned.

If your symptoms are serious you will remain in hospital isolated from other patients to prevent further spread of the virus.

If your doctor says you are well enough to return home while you are waiting for your test results:

  •         remain in your home and do not attend work or school;
  •         wash your hands often with soap and water;
  •         cough and sneeze into your elbow;
  •         avoid cooking for or caring for other members of your household; and
  •         wear a mask (provided by your doctor) if close contact with other people is unavoidable.

Public Health officers will make contact with you each day to check on your condition and provide you with a phone number to contact if you have questions.

Your family and other close contacts do not need to remain isolated unless they develop symptoms. If they develop symptoms, they must return home and contact the Public Health Unit.

What happens if my test is negative?

You no longer need to remain in isolation. You may return to normal activities on the advice of Public Health authorities. You should continue to carefully monitor your health for up to 14 days after your last contact with the confirmed case. Report any new or returning symptoms to Public Health in this period. You may be required to be tested again.

What happens if my test is positive?

You must remain in your home or accommodation until Public Health officers advise that it is safe to return to normal activities. This will normally be 1 day after your symptoms end.

If your condition deteriorates, seek medical attention:

  •         Notify the Public Health officers managing your care by calling the number provided to you;
  •         Follow the direction of the Public Health officers who may advise you to go to a doctor’s surgery or a hospital;
  •         Call ahead to a doctor or hospital and inform them that you are a confirmed case of novel coronavirus;
  •         Put on the mask provided to you if you need to leave the house;
  •         When you arrive at the doctor’s surgery or hospital, tell them that you are a confirmed case of novel coronavirus.

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath:

  •         Call 000 and request an ambulance; and
  •         Inform the ambulance officers that you are a confirmed case of novel coronavirus.

People who you have had contact with including family members and people you live with will need to isolate themselves for 14 days since their last contact with you. More information for close contacts can be found on www.health.gov.au

How is the infection treated?

There is no specific treatment for 2019-nCoV infection. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections. However, most of the symptoms can be treated with supportive medical care. Your doctor will explain this to you.

Where can I get more information?

Visit the Australian Government Department of Health homepage at www.health.gov.au. 

Call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

Contact your state or territory Public Health Authority:

  •         ACT call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours
  •         NSW call 1300 066 055
  •         NT call 08 8922 8044.
  •         Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  •         SA call 1300 232 272
  •         Tas call 1800 671 738
  •         Vic call 1300 651 160

·         WA call 08 9328 0553 or call your local public health unit