WHAT is COVID-19 ?

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What is COVID-19

Corona viruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus. It was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China.

People with coronavirus may experience:

  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath

How it spreads

The virus can spread from person to person through:

  • close contact with an infectious person (including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms)
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face

COVID-19 is a new disease, so there is no existing immunity in our community. This means that COVID-19 could spread widely and quickly.

Good hygiene

Everyone must practise good hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus spreading.

Good hygiene includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • disposing of tissues properly
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
  • cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets

Read more about protective measures against coronavirus on the World Health Organization website.

If you have a confirmed case, you need to self-quarantine to prevent it spreading to other people.

Social distancing

One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing. For example:

  • staying at home when you are unwell
  • avoiding large public gatherings if they’re not essential
  • keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible
  • minimising physical contact, especially with people at higher risk such as older people and people with existing health conditions

Find out more about social distancing and avoiding public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups.

Surgical masks

Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others.

If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask. There is little evidence that widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people prevents transmission in public.

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