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Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alert

13th March 2020

Queensland currently has 20 confirmed cases of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and rising.  With the pace and complexity of international travel, the number of cases and deaths is likely to continue to climb.  The World Health Organisation (WHO) has described COVID-19 as a pandemic. Globally, every measure is being taken to learn more about the virus and how it affects people, how it is transmitted and what affected countries can do to respond.

So what is COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus?  The COVID-19 virus is a new strain of coronavirus which is still relatively new and as such, we are still learning about it.  Some coronavirus’s can cause illnesses with symptoms similar to the common cold, while others cause more serious diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, a cough, a sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.  Some people, such as the elderly or people who have a weakened immune system may develop more serious infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.  While there is currently no specific treatment or vaccines for COVID-19, current treatment includes supportive medical care, blood tests and possibly a chest x-ray.

The average person is at extremely low risk of catching this virus. In fact, this winter, more people are likely to get Influenza B (the Flu) than any other virus.  Practicing good hand/sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against preventing the spread of most viruses.  If you’re feeling unwell at all, avoid contact with others.  Wash your hands frequently with soap and water before and after eating and after going to the toilet.  Cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed as having novel coronavirus;

  • you need to self-quarantine for 14 days from the last date of contact with that person.
  • If you start to feel unwell and develop a cough, shortness of breath or respiratory issues or any other symptoms or illness during your period of self-quarantine, you should seek medical attention immediately. In this instance, please call ahead to your GP or emergency department and mention you’ve been in contact with someone with novel coronavirus.

For more information and fact sheets on novel coronavirus (COVID-19) visit The Australian Government Department of Health website.

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