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Coronavirus (Covid-19 disease) – Background Information

(Issued 13 March 2020)

 

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new or novel coronavirus which was initially referred to as ‘2019 novel coronavirus ’. This provides some background information about symptoms associated with COVID-19 disease, and things you can do to help stop or slow down further infections.

The information in this document is not definitive or comprehensive. While every care has been taken to ensure its accuracy, No warrant is made about the applicability of the information contained within to your specific circumstances. You should refer to formal sources of information and advice, such as the Australian Government Department of Health website (https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert ) and seek professional medical advice where necessary. The situation is changing daily, and the Department of Health website may have more up-to-date.

General Information – How the virus is spread?

The advice issued to the public suggests that the virus is most likely to spread through:

  • Direct contact with a person who is 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.

People who are in close contact with someone who has been confirmed as being infected with the virus (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.

At this stage, it’s unclear how long individuals can be infectious. (i.e., we don’t yet know the period during which they can potentially spread the infection to others.) It is possible that a person who has developed COVID-19 could inadvertently spread the infection from before the time they first develop symptoms until up to one day after symptoms stop.

Some individuals who become infected with the virus may not have any symptoms (be asymptomatic) or have minimal symptoms, and therefore not be aware of potentially being infectious. For these reasons, it’s very important that we all take steps to either prevent or slow down the transmission of COVID-19, and to minimise the exposure of vulnerable individuals to potential infection.

Symptoms and risk of COVID-19 infection

According to WHO, the most common symptoms associated with COVID-19 can include (but are not limited to) fever, tiredness, sore throat, shortness of breath and a dry cough. Individuals may also experience a runny nose, nasal congestion and aches and pain, or diarrhoea.

About 80% of infected individuals are likely to experience mild symptoms and to fully recover; however some may become seriously ill. Individuals who are vulnerable to developing severe symptoms include:

  • Those with underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, or chronic respiratory conditions;

  • Individuals with suppressed immune systems;

  • Elderly individuals; and

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

When is there a high risk of infection?

Individuals returning from regions identified as high risk are at increased risk of contracting the virus. These regions are identified on the Department of Health website. It is critical that individuals who are either planning to travel overseas or have recently returned from an overseas trip check the website and clarify any requirements to self-isolate. They should also monitor their health for potential symptoms.

The advice from health authorities is that if you develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel to an affected area, you should seek medical attention. More recent advice issued by the Chief Medical Officer is for individuals who become unwell after any overseas travel to contact their doctor.

You should also contact your doctor if you have been in close contact with an individual who has been confirmed as having the coronavirus. People who think they may have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, should also monitor their health and seek urgent medical attention.

If you have been identified as being at risk of infection

The Department of Health website has detailed information on the recommended actions which individuals who have been identified as being at risk of infection should take. These include isolating yourself and refraining from attending public places.

The advice is that you should not attend health care premises which includes not coming to sessions at Inner Actions during any periods of potential or actual infection. If there is any chance that you may be infected, I strongly recommend that you follow this advice.

Do call me to let me know. We can then work out other potential options for you during the period of your isolation.

If your test is positive

If you are assessed as being infected with COVID-19, I strongly recommend that you follow the advice issued by the Department of Health (www.health.gov.au) and medical staff.

Please let me know so we can postpone your sessions and we can discuss the support you might need during any period of isolation.

For more information about COVID-19

  • For the latest advice, information and resources, go to 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:

    • In the ACT, call 02 5124 9213 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours.

    • Refer to www.health.gov.au for contact numbers for other states and for NT.