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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Understanding the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and what you can do to prevent the spread

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals and humans. These illnesses can range from the common cold to more severe diseases. These viruses are transmitted between animals and people. The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19 and was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China.


Coronavirus (COVID-19) is diagnosed through a test which is ordered if you meet the criteria for being a suspected case. The test is done on swabs from the back of the nose or throat or fluid from the lungs. The tests look for evidence of virus particles.

In the first instance, to get medical advice, call your local general practitioner or ring Healthdirect on 1800 022 222. They will be able to discuss your symptoms and travel history with you, to help decide if you need testing and where to go to get this completed.


In Australia, the people most at risk of getting the virus are:

  • travellers who have recently been overseas or cruise ship passengers
  • those who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID -19
  • people in aged care facilities
  • people in detention facilities
  • people in group residential settings

Last updated: April 2020

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

In severe cases, someone may have symptoms of pneumonia or severe respiratory distress.

Following exposure, if someone is going to become unwell, most do so within 14 days.

If you develop fever or respiratory symptoms, please call your GP practice, or call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222. 

Last updated: 10/3/2020

Is there a cure for coronavirus?

There are currently no vaccines available to protect against the coronavirus (COVID-19). There is also no specific treatment for COVID-19. It is a virus and therefore antibiotics will not work. The treatment is generally supportive and most symptoms will resolve on their own, after a few days. Those with serious disease or complications will be treated in a hospital.

Last updated: 10/3/2020

How do you prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

The virus is spread through close contact with an infected person, contact with droplets from an infected person's sneeze or cough or touching surfaces or objects that have cough or sneeze droplets on them (from an infected person) and then touching your mouth or face.

Most COVID-19 cases appear to be spread from people who have symptoms. To avoid getting the virus, it is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water, avoid touching your mouth and face, avoid close contact with those who are sick, cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw your tissue away. If you have a confirmed diagnosis, it is important to isolate yourself to prevent spread.

Last updated: 10/3/2020

TeleHealth Appointments are now available with GPs and Specialists

As a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we understand that some patients do not want to attend appointments on a face to face basis.  

And although the idea of a virtual visit has been used in a limited way in the past, especially to those patients in rural areas, telehealth consultations have now become more mainstream and an essential tool for general practice to protect doctors, staff and patients from COVID-19 while continuing to deliver quality care. 

Both primary care and specialists offer this service, allowing them to further their reach and expand access to care to reach more patients. This can also increase the practice revenue and practice efficiency.   

Patients too benefit from this service as they can see their doctor when they need to, do not have to travel, take time off work and can maintain their regular appointments. They also benefit from less time in the waiting room and thus less chance of catching a new illness.  Of course, a final key benefit is the patient can practice better management of medication, lifestyle and any chronic conditions from the comfort of their own homes.

In the first instance, to get medical advice, call your local general practitioner (GP). They will be able to discuss your Telehealth options.

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