Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently asked questions There is an ongoing investigation to understand more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As this is a rapidly evolving investigation, for the latest information visit:
General information about COVID-19
What are coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in humans and animals.
Human coronavirus illnesses are generally mild such as the common cold. However, some coronaviruses can cause severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which was identified in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which was identified in 2012.
What is the 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
This is a new coronavirus that was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019.
It is a new strain of coronaviruses that hasn’t previously been identified in humans.
COVID-19 is closely related to SARS and in the same family of viruses as MERS.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough and/or shortness of breath, like the symptoms of the common cold.
In severe cases, the virus can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.
From what we know now about COVID-19, the symptoms can occur between 2 and 14 days from exposure to the virus.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted from person to person?
Yes, COVID-19 can be spread from person to person.
This can happen when a person comes into contact with the respiratory secretions of an infected person, for example through coughing or sneezing. Spread of this coronavirus from person to person is usually between close contacts.
Close contacts are those people who have been face to face with a person infected with the virus for at least 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours with an infected person.
What should I do if I have symptoms? If you have travelled or transited overseas in the past 14 days AND have respiratory symptoms such as a sore throat, cough, shortness of breath or fever, please call your GP or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 and advise them of your symptoms and travel history
? There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 and, in most cases, symptoms will resolve on their own.
Is there a vaccine?
There are no available vaccines for COVID-19 at this time. Are health workers at risk? Health workers are recommended to apply infection prevention and control measures while seeing patients. The risk to health workers remains low.
How is COVID-19 diagnosed?
The current testing available for COVID-19 includes obtaining nose and throat swabs.
These are then sent to the laboratory for testing.
The laboratory will also test for other common respiratory viruses (such as influenza).
What if I don’t have Medicare cover?
Most travellers to WA will have travel insurance.
To support the WA Health response to COVID19, the Minister for Health has confirmed that those people who are not eligible for Medicare AND who present to WA Health facilities for assessment in relation to COVID-19 infection, will not be charged out of pocket expenses.
Protecting yourself and others What should I do if I come in contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection? If you have been in contact with someone in the previous 14 days who has since been confirmed to have COVID-19, you must contact your GP or public health unit immediately.
You may also be contacted by public health unit staff.
You will be asked to stay isolated for 14 days since you last had contact with the infected person, and to report any symptoms to the public health unit.
Australian Government fact sheets are available:
Information for a suspected case:
Information for about home isolation for those who are:
Are some people at higher risk than others?
People who live in, or have recently travelled to mainland China or Iran, or had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
Some people may be at higher risk of infection, such as people who have other illnesses that suppress the immune system or make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease.
This includes people with lung disease or diabetes, those who have suppressed immune systems, and the elderly.
How can I protect myself and my family?
The best way to protect yourself and others is to practise good hygiene by:
frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand gel
covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or flexed elbow
avoiding close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu-like symptom
Should I wear a face mask?
WA Health does not recommend the use of facemasks for the general public to prevent the risk of contracting COVID-19.
There are further details in the Australian Government fact sheet ‘Information on the use of surgical masks’:
I am caring for someone who has (or could have) COVID-19, how can I protect myself?
Anyone in the home with a respiratory illness should be cared for in a single room, where practicable.
Isolating sick residents in single rooms reduces the risk of transmission to others
. Follow the below steps to reduce chances of spreading infections at home:
• frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand gel
• covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue or flexed elbow
• avoiding close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu-like symptoms. If it is not possible to keep the potentially infected person in a room by themselves, try to follow these principles to reduce chances of disease spread:
• as a priority, place people with excessive cough and phlegm in single rooms • if there is more than one person with the same symptoms, they can be placed together in the same room
• importantly, ensure that people sharing a room are physically separated (more than 1 metre or arm’s length) from each other.