Coronavirus COVID-19

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.

Reduce your Risk

Image by CDC

10 ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus

  • 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 GP first if you need medical attention. We will tell you what to do.

  • Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and now is the time to quit smoking. Call the Quitline 137 848.

  • Wear a face mask when suitable; in line with current advice.

  • Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.

  • Get the flu shot.

  • No Shaking hands!

How is it Spread?

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TL;DR - from close contact with an infected person.

COVID-19 spreads 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.


A close contact is someone who has been identified by Department of Health (DH) contract tracers as having spent time with someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19). There is a high chance that people who have been close to someone with coronavirus (COVID-19) will get the virus and spread it to other people. The best way to protect yourself, your family and the community is to stay at home and stay away from other people as much as possible.


There are two types of close contacts:

Primary close contacts:

  • someone who has had face-to-face contact or spent time in a closed space with someone who has COVID-19 while they were infectious.

  • someone who has been in an outbreak or other setting where there is a higher risk of transmission of COVID-19.

Secondary close contacts:

  • someone who has had face-to-face contact with a primary close contact at least 24 hours after them being exposed to COVID-19.

The Victorian Chief Health Officer or Deputy Chief Health Officer may also identify someone as a primary or secondary close contact based on what is known about a particular case or outbreak.

Close contact with someone can happen in many ways, such as:

  • living in the same household or similar setting (for example, a boarding school or hostel)

  • being indoors together, including in a car, lift or public transport

  • being at a public exposure site at a similar time

  • direct contact with the body fluids or laboratory specimens of a person with COVID-19.

If a person is identified as a primary or secondary close contact, the Department of Health will notify them as soon as possible.

Who is at risk?

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TL;DR People who have travelled internationally or been in close contact with an infected person.

Some people are at greater risk of getting very sick if they contract COVID-19. However, everyone is different. It is important to talk to your doctor if you have a more serious illness or more than one condition.

First Nations people can be at higher risk in any public health emergency.


Who is at high risk of severe illness 

You are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you:

  • are 70 years of age or over

  • have had an organ transplant and are on immune suppressive therapy

  • have had a bone marrow transplant in the last 24 months

  • are on immune suppressive therapy for graft versus host disease

  • have blood cancer eg leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome (diagnosed within the last 5 years)

  • are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.


Who is at moderate risk of severe illness 

You are at moderate risk of severe illness from COVID-19 if you have:

  • chronic renal (kidney) failure

  • heart disease (coronary heart disease or failure)

  • chronic lung disease (excludes mild or moderate asthma)

  • a non-haematological cancer (diagnosed in the last 12 months)

  • diabetes

  • severe obesity with a BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2

  • chronic liver disease

  • some neurological conditions (stroke, dementia, other) (speak to your doctor about your risk)

  • some chronic inflammatory conditions and treatments (speak to your doctor about your risk)

  • other primary or acquired immunodeficiency (speak to your doctor about your risk)

  • poorly controlled blood pressure (may increase risk – speak to your doctor).