Published on Mar 16, 2020
Authored by Kate Porz, BPharm
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause respiratory illnesses in humans ranging from common colds to more severe conditions such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).1
The coronavirus involved in the current outbreak has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (or “COVID-19”).2,3
COVID-19 can spread from person to person:
Droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who may be close by. Spread is more likely when people are within 6 feet of distance of each other.
COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community in many areas that are affected. This is referred to as community spread which means people have been infected with the virus and may then pass it on to others they come in contact with.
People with COVID-19 may have symptoms that range from mild to severe. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. It may be possible for an infected person who is not yet showing any symptoms to spread the virus.
For those who develop symptoms, these may include:
If you are concerned you may have COVID-19 you can use the HealthDirect symptom checker
Practicing good hygiene is very important and is the best way to protect others and yourself. When possible maintain at least 1.5 meters distance between yourself and others. Since some infected persons may not yet be exhibiting symptoms or their symptoms may be mild, maintaining a physical distance with everyone is a good idea.
To help prevent getting COVID 19:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Avoid close contact. Put at least 1.5 meters distance between you and any person when outside your house.
Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face cover when around others at all times.
Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
Monitor your health daily and follow Australian Government guidance if symptoms develop.
If you have a fever, cough, or other symptoms, you might have COVID-19. To stop the spread of COVID-19 people with even mild symptoms of respiratory infection should get tested. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 you should immediately go and get tested.
Keep track of your symptoms because things could get worse quickly. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), get emergency medical care immediately.
Find out more information about where to get tested by visiting:
Last reviewed 03/02/2020
-World Health Organisation: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for public
-Australian Government Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
-Ministry of Health New Zealand: COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
-Australian Government Department of Health: Vaccination Program
-Ministry of Health New Zealand: Vaccination Program
viruses under the microscope