What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses.  This pandemic is caused by a type of novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new SARS-CoV-2 virus.

How does the virus spread?

Coronavirus is most likely to spread from person to person:

  • through direct contact with a person while they are infectious
  • through contact with droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • through touching objects or surfaces, such as door handles or tables, then touching your face or mouth (where an infected person has coughed or sneezed and contaminated the surface with droplets)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Some people may have all, or just some of the following:

  1. fever
  2. cough
  3. shortness of breath
  4. aches and pains
  5. fatigue
  6. sore throat
  7. headaches
  8. runny or stuffy nose
  9. diarrhoea
  10. headaches
  11. lack of smell and/or taste

Read more at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus

How long does coronavirus last on surfaces?

Recent studies suggest probably up to three days. It is not yet certain what the significance is for clinical risk.  We will know with more study.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Seek advice in the first instance from your GP. If you are acutely unwell with shortness of breath or chest pain, call 000.  If you have symptoms and are on the Gold Coast you can go directly to the Gold Coast Fever clinic for assessment and testing, located at GCUH.  You will be directed to Fever clinic by a nurse outside GCUH.  Wear a mask if you have one.  Fever clinics help to keep people who may be contagious away from other areas of hospitals and health centres. This helps to reduce the potential spread of the virus and keeps the emergency department available for emergencies.  The Fever clinic is safe to attend.

How long before symptoms show up?

Because coronavirus is a novel virus this is still being studied. It can be 2-14 days, and the average seems to be 5 days.  This means people who have it may be spreading it for 2-3 days without yet knowing they have it.  We will learn more as the virus is studied during the pandemic.

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

At the moment, you need to have a swab taken from both your nose and the back of your throat. https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/take-action/testing-and-fever-clinics.

Point-of-care serology (blood testing) is not advised in Australia at this stage.

Who is at risk?

The whole of society is at risk with an out of control pandemic . It can affect all ages including young people, potentially overwhelming the health system.  The risk of complications from COVID-19 itself increases with age, and in smokers and those with chronic diseases.  For example people with lung disease – including COPD, asthma, or bronchiectasis,

heart disease such as ischaemic heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), and immunocompromised people who may have  eg. diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, are taking chemotherapy , steroids, or other immunosuppressants.

What should I do if I come into contact with a person with COVID-19?

Stay at home and seek advice from your doctor or the COVID hotline 1800 020 080 over the phone.  If you have been a close contact of a confirmed case, you will be required to self-isolate and the local public health unit will be in touch. Read more at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-close-contacts-of-a-confirmed-case

What will happen to me if I am diagnosed with COVID-19

If you are in Queensland, read what will happen at this website: I have Coronavirus (COVID-19) – now what?

How can I protect myself from catching coronavirus?

Our best protection is to strictly following the social distancing rules put in place by the government, limiting non-essential outings, staying 1.5 metres away from others (2×2 square metres per person indoors), and hand washing thoroughly for thirty seconds at every opportunity. Everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for what you need, receiving medical care, exercising or traveling to work or education. Avoid contact with any known COVID-19 cases and avoid travel overseas.  Other hygiene tips: cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose of it straight away; wash your hands afterwards, or cough or sneeze into your (flexed) elbow, avoid touching your face and mouth while out in public. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-avoid-infection-faqs

Is there a cure or vaccine?

There is no cure or vaccine yet.  Many groups are working on vaccination, which is our best hope for ending the pandemic.  Until then treatment for COVID-19 is mostly supportive, which means for example, treating low oxygen levels with oxygen therapy.  There are drugs which will be tested, but none are proven to cure at this stage.

How do I get tested for coronavirus?

If you have symptoms, firstly discuss with your doctor.  For testing, you can go directly to the Gold Coast Fever clinic, located at GCUH and you will be assessed for testing.  Wear a mask if you have one.  The Fever clinic is very safe to attend.  If you have regular GP you can speak to them over the phone first to advise whether or not a different testing option such as in a drive-through pathology clinic may be suitable.

What is the COVIDSafe app?

In order to retain suppression of coronavirus and at the same time slowly lift restrictions on movements of Australians, we need three things

  1. testing
  2. tracing (of cases)
  3. rapid respond to outbreaks

The COVIDSafe app is a new app that speeds up the ability to identify people exposed to coronavirus. This helps health officials support and protect you, your friends and your family. The RACGP strongly supports the use of the app.