General information about coronavirus (COVID-19)

The World Health Organisation has declared a global pandemic following the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus has been widely reported in the news and is being monitored closely by the Australian Government and State Governments.

GMHBA is committed to the health and wellbeing of our members and community and will be putting plans in place to ensure there is minimal impact to our member services.

If you are unsure of the facts, here is some useful information from the Better Health Channel.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus that can cause an infection in people, including a severe respiratory illness.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms reported include:

  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties such as breathlessness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue or tiredness

How does coronavirus spread?

The World Health Organization (WHO) have confirmed that the virus is spread by people with symptoms through coughing and sneezing.

The spread of novel coronavirus occurs through close contact with an infected person, mostly face-to-face or within a household. It cannot jump across a room or be carried for long distances in the air.

How is coronavirus diagnosed?

If you have a risk of having the infection, your doctor will take a sample from your nose and throat and will organise for that sample to be tested at a laboratory to determine if you have COVID-19.

You will be asked to remain isolated from other people while this testing takes place.

How is coronavirus treated?

There is no specific treatment for disease caused by COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated and therefore treatment will be based on the patient’s clinical condition.

How do I protect myself and my family?

The easiest way to protect yourself and your family is to pay attention to good hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.

The ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus are to:

  • Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Isolate yourself at home if you feel sick. If you take medication, ensure you have adequate supplies.
  • Phone your doctor (GP) first if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.
  • Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and now is the time to quit smoking.
  • Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Get the flu shot (available April).
  • Shaking hands is optional!

What should I do if I have symptoms?

The Australian Department of Health has advised that if you become unwell and think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, seek medical attention.

Call ahead of time to book an appointment. Tell your doctor about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has coronavirus.

If you must leave home to see your doctor, wear a surgical mask (if you have one) to protect others.

Coronavirus Health Information Line

Call this line on 1800 020 080 if you are seeking information on novel coronavirus. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

Where can I find out more information?