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Corona viruses FAQ RSS

What is a coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a novel coronavirus (CoV) is a new strain of coronaviruses that have not been previously identified in humans.

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are known to cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).


What is the 2019-nCoV virus?

2019-nCoV is a new coronavirus, with a majority of cases affecting people in Hubei Province, China. There is much more to learn about how it is spread, its severity, and other features associated with 2019-nCoV, and investigations are ongoing. At the moment, this coronavirus is called '2019 novel coronavirus' or '2019-nCoV'.

Outbreaks of a novel coronavirus infection among people are always a public health concern. There have been cases of 2019-nCoV reported in several Asian and other countries including Australia. The situation is evolving rapidly.

2019-nCoV is closely related to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus and in the same family as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus.

What are the symptoms of someone infected with a coronavirus?

It depends on the virus, but common signs include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

How is Coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus experts think that it’s likely that the novel coronavirus originated in an animal species, and then spread to humans.

Person to person spread of the novel coronavirus is occurring, but it is not yet understood how easily this happens.

Human coronavirus strains are spread from person to person through contaminated droplets from a person who is sick with the illness (through coughing or sneezing) or contaminated hands, and generally occurs between people who are close contacts with one another. It is likely this novel coronavirus spreads the same way.

The novel coronavirus does not appear to last very long on surfaces. The risk of this virus being present on imported packages or products is negligible.

Can coronaviruses be transmitted from person to person?

Yes, some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a household workplace, or health care center.

The novel coronavirus (n-CoV) can be spread from person to person, most likely by coughing or contact with respiratory secretions of people infected with the virus.

There have been a small number of cases of transmission from person to person occurring outside of mainland China. Many confirmed cases were infected with the virus whilst overseas.

Can humans become infected with a novel coronavirus of animal source?

Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans in China in 2002 and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. As surveillance improves around the world, more coronaviruses are likely to be identified.

Can the 2019-nCoV virus be transmitted during the incubation period?

There is preliminary evidence of a very small number of people who may have been infectious before their symptoms developed. More information about this new virus is needed in order to understand when a person becomes infectious.

What can I do to protect myself from the 2019-nCoV virus?


Standard recommendations to reduce exposure to and transmission of a range of illnesses include maintaining basic hand and respiratory hygiene, and safe food practices and avoiding close contact, when possible, with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

How is it diagnosed?

Infection with 2019-nCoV is diagnosed by finding evidence of the virus in respiratory samples such as swabs from the throat or fluid from the lungs.

Is there a vaccine for a novel coronavirus?


When a disease is new, there is no vaccine until one is developed. It can take a number of years for a new vaccine to be developed.

Who is at risk with coronavirus?

People who have visited mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau, or Taiwan), or who have had contact with an infected person, in the previous 14 days may be at risk of catching the disease.

People who have a suppressed immune system should protect themselves in the same way they would against any respiratory infection.

You should avoid contact with anyone that has a respiratory illness, and discuss any concerns you have with your usual medical treating team.

Are health workers at risk from a novel coronavirus?

Yes, they can be, as health care workers come into contact with patients more often than the general public WHO recommends that health care workers consistently apply appropriate infection prevention and control measures.

What should I do if I come into contact with a person with coronavirus?

If you have been identified as a contact of a person with confirmed coronavirus infection, you need to isolate yourself at home for 14 days after contact with the infected person, and to monitor your health and report any symptoms.

Person to person spread of coronaviruses generally occurs between people who are close contacts with one another.

Close contact is someone who has been facing to face for at least 15 minutes or be in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, with a person that was infectious.

Close contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus will be closely monitored by public health units for the development of any symptoms, and should call their public health unit to report any symptoms.

Is there a treatment for a novel corona virus?

There is no specific treatment for disease caused by a novel coronavirus. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment based on the patient’s clinical condition. Moreover, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective

What are the symptoms of corona virus?

From what we know so far, the virus can cause mild, flu-like symptoms such as:

    difficulty breathing
    pain in the muscles and

The virus causes pneumonia. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties.

More serious cases develop severe pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and septic shock that can lead to the death of the patient. People with existing chronic conditions seem to be more vulnerable to severe illness.

In severe cases, there can be organ failure. As this is viral pneumonia, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. If people are admitted to the hospital, they may get support for their lungs and other organs as well as fluids.

Recovery will depend on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died were already in poor health.

When should I be tested for corona virus?

If you have an acute respiratory infection (sudden onset of at least one of a cough, sore throat, or shortness of breath),


in the 14 days before the start of your symptoms, you were either:

+ in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of 2019-nCoV infection, or traveling to an area where there is ongoing community transmission of coronavirus,

+ or worked in or attended a healthcare facility where patients with coronavirus infections were being treated, you should contact your doctor by phone for advice.

Do face masks protect against the virus? Which face masks?


Face masks are not recommended for the general population. But people who have symptoms and might be infected with novel coronavirus are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else.

Health care workers who are caring for patients with suspected novel coronavirus should use P2 masks to protect against the virus, but these must be fit tested and worn properly.

How is hospital equipment and furniture being cleaned to protect against the virus?

Hospitals ensure surfaces are cleaned and disinfected after each suspected case, as are ambulances. There is an Infection Prevention and Control Practice Handbook that outlines the appropriate steps for cleaning a room to ensure there are no viruses remaining. Staff also wear protective gear when cleaning to protect themselves and limit any spread of infection.

Is it safe for me to go to a hospital where a coronavirus case is?

Hospitals should have high infection control standards. Hospitals and clinicians are well trained in caring for people with infectious diseases, and in preventing their transmission to other patients.

I have a holiday/work trip. Should I cancel my trip?

The Government provides up-to-date information and advice for safe travel overseas. If you are heading overseas to destinations which may have been affected, check the advice on Smart Traveller.

Can my child attend school during coronavirus outbreak?

Any student or staff member who over the last 14 days has visited the province of Hubei in central China is excluded from school and should not return to school or child care services for a period of 14 days after leaving Hubei Province, as the novel coronavirus' incubation period can be as long as two weeks.

Do I need a medical certificate clearing me for work?

If you do not have any symptoms there is no testing that can be done to predict whether or not you will become unwell. It is not possible to issue a 'medical clearance certificate'.

Once 14 days have passed since you left mainland China, you have passed the time in which you would become sick if you were exposed to coronavirus when you were in China. If you are still completely well 14 days after you left China, then you will not get coronavirus from your time in China.

Do I need to quarantine myself if I have returned from a holiday in China?

If you have been in Hubei Province in the past 14 days you should stay at home and isolate yourself from for 14 days after you left China. You should watch out for symptoms.

If you have traveled to or transited through, mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), you should stay at home and isolate yourself from for 14 days after you left China. You should watch out for symptoms.

If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel to an affected area, you should call your GP, emergency department and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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