Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*
• Shortness of breath
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
• Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
• Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
• People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
• Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How easily the virus spreads
How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas.
Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.
Situation in U.S.
• In addition to CDC, many public health laboratories are now testing for the virus that causes COVID-19. View CDC’s Public Health Laboratory Testing map.
• With this increase in testing, now 19 states have reported cases of COVID-19 to CDC. View latest case counts, deaths, and a map of states with reported cases.
• U.S. COVID-19 cases include:
o Imported cases in travelers
o Cases among close contacts of a known case
o Community-acquired cases where the source of the infection is unknown.
Latest Updates on this Outbreak
International Areas with Sustained (Ongoing) Transmission
Last updated February 28, 2020
• China (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
• Iran (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
• Italy (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
• Japan (Level 2 Travel Health Notice)
• South Korea (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)
Do I need to be separate from other people in my home if I am isolating?
Yes. If you are sharing your home with others, you should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible. Wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as another person, and when seeking medical care. Use a separate bathroom, if available.
Make sure that you do not share a room with people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.
Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while you are isolating.
More information about home isolation is available for:
• people suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection
• close contacts and recently returned travellers from mainland China, Iran or South Korea.
Someone in my household recently returned from a higher risk country or has been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and is self-isolating. Do I need to self-isolate too?
Other members of the household are not required to be isolated unless they have also:
• been in or transited through a higher risk country in the last 14 days
• been a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Make sure you maintain a safe distance from that person at all times but support them as much as possible to maintain their self-isolation.
How can I access groceries and medicines while in home isolation?
If you need groceries or medicines (including prescription medicines), ask a family member or friend (who is not in isolation) to deliver them to your home or shop for groceries online. To prevent infecting other people, make sure you wear a mask when receiving a delivery or have the groceries left at your door.
When someone has finished 14 days isolation, do they need to see their GP?
If you are well at the end of 14 days self-isolation, you can resume your normal lifestyle.
Are you worried that you or someone you know may have or has COVID-19; or are anxious about being in isolation and would you like to speak to someone about it?
Contact one of the services below for support or talk to your general practitioner.
• Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14 or Lifeline Australia
A crisis support service that provides short term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.
• Kids Helpline: 1800 551800 or Kids Helpline
A free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years.
• NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
Mental health crisis telephone service in NSW.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is an effective measure, but it is recognised that it cannot be practised in all situations and the aim is to generally reduce potential for transmission.
While practising social distancing, people can travel to work (including public transport). For non-essential activities outside the workplace or attendance at schools, universities and childcare - social distancing includes:
• avoiding crowds and mass gatherings where it is difficult to keep the appropriate distance away from others
• avoiding small gatherings in enclosed spaces, for example family celebrations
• attempting to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between themselves and other people where possible, for example when they are out and about in public place.
• avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people
• avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment
Who should practice social distancing?
If you have travelled overseas to another country in the past 14 days you should self-monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing as much as possible and immediately isolate yourself if you become unwell. See the advice: I have travelled to another country. What should I do?.
Note that social distancing is not enough for people who have travelled to a higher risk country in the previous 14 days. These people need to self-isolate at home for 14 days from their last day of travel in the affected country. See the advice: I have travelled to a higher risk country. What should I do?.
Should I be bulk-buying items to prepare?
There is no need to bulk-buy products at supermarkets including toilet paper, paracetamol and canned food.
It is prudent for households to have a small stock of non-perishable groceries to cover the event that in the coming months the household has been asked to self-isolate for 14 days. However, it’s important to note the role of family and friends in supporting those in isolation and also to note that online grocery delivery services are now available in most areas of NSW.
Pets and animals
Can pets be infected with COVID-19?
While COVID-19 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now mainly spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in Australia might be a source of infection with this new virus. There have been no reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in Australia.
There is also no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.
Can I be infected with COVID-19 from Australian bats?
At this stage, there is no evidence that bats (or any other animals) carry the COVID-19 virus in Australia. However, Australian bats can carry other serious infections, such as Australian bat lyssavirus and Hendra virus so they are best avoided. You should also avoid bats overseas.
Where can I find more information?
• National Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080
• Visit NSW Health - COVID-19
• Visit the World Health Organization