COVID-19 Useful Information -> Transmission
In this Section:
Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads primarily through prolonged person to person contact, or through respiratory droplets by coughing and sneezing. A few simple measures can reduce your, and others, risk of contracting the disease.
^ The symptoms
COVID-19 can be asymptomatic in some individuals. However, research suggests that these individuals may lose their sense of taste and smell.
Common symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to those of a cold or a flu; including a dry cough, tiredness and a fever. Some people may also have a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, aches and pains and diarrhea.
In more serious cases, these symptoms may progress to breathing difficulties – particularly shortness of breath – as well as confusion and difficulty walking; for which medical attention is required. In critical cases: phenomena and multi-organ failure can result, which often leads to death.
^ Stop the spread
Help to stop the spread of COVID-19 by doing the following actions:
^ Wash hands regularly and thoroughly
The science shows that regular hand washing and practicing good hygiene is the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19 as well as common cold and seasonal flu viruses.
People can contract viruses from the things they touch, and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose areas. The COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces for several days.
Wash hands thoroughly and regularly, under running water and with soap, for at least 20 seconds and do so especially before you eat, when you return home after going out and after you have gone to the toilet. If possible, carrying and applying an alcohol based hand sanitizer is also effective in limiting the spread of viruses if you are in a situation where you are unable to wash your hands.
^ Cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing
COVID-19 is spread primarily by respiratory droplets via coughing and sneezing. In order to limit the spread of disease, it is recommended that you cough and sneeze into the bend of your elbow or into a clean tissue.
^ Keep your physical distance
In addition to respiratory droplets, COVID-19 is transmitted through close person to person contact with an infected person. Note that even asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus to other people, so physical distancing (often referred to as social distancing) is important in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
As such, those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 are those who spend prolonged periods in face to face contact with another person who may have contracted the disease. The risk factor is further increased if time is spent indoors with an infected person.
Practicing physical distancing during this period is vital to limiting the spread of COVID-19. You should, whenever it is practical, remain two meters away from other people (giving yourself a four square meter radius from other people) as well as avoiding any handshaking or other close contact.
^ Stay at home
Because there is no vaccine or effective treatment yet available for COVID-19, the only effective way of stopping the spread of COVID-19 is to not be in physical contact with other people. That means, whenever possible, staying at home.
Even if the symptoms you are experiencing are mild (for around 80% of people, particularly younger people, COVID-19 is mild – akin to a cold, or asymptomatic); you should still stay at home. COVID-19 takes at least two weeks to clear from time of symptoms appearing.
It is important to note that COVID-19 has an incubation period of between 2 to 14 days (that is, it can take as few as 2 days or as many as 14 days for symptoms to appear) with an average incubation period of 5 to 6 days. There is growing evidence to suggest that the disease can be transmitted during the incubation period – that is, before symptoms appear.
If you have tested positive or you have symptoms, and live with other people, limit the distance between yourself and those other people and stay in the one room whenever possible.
^ Getting tested
In Victoria, you can get tested for COVID-19 if you meet the following criteria:
- Fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation.
- Acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or anosmia).
In addition, testing is also recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and who are close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19; who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; or who are healthcare or aged care workers.
Testing is also recommended for people who have other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (such as aa headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea) and who are close contacts of a confirmed case. Testing is also recommended for people who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days as well as healthcare and aged care workers.
A list of COVID-19 testing centres can be viewed on the Department of Health and Human Services website.
- R Mealey (March 2020) “Research shows loss of sense of smell might by symptom of coronavirus“, The World Today
- S Boseley, H. Devlin, M. Belam (March 2020) “Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should I see a doctor?“, The Guardian
- S Lyons (March 2020) “How long does Coronavirus last on surfaces?“, ABC News
- How COVID-19 Spreads, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention
- “How long is the incubation period for the Coronavirus?“, healthline.com
- O Willis (March 2020) “COVID-19 symptoms: Do I have a cold or Coronavirus?“, ABC News/Health
- P Johnson (March 2020) “Q+A: Australia will change coronavirus testing criteria, says medical officer Paul Kelly, as Dr Norman Swan questions slow response“, ABC News
- E Cohen (March 2020) “Infected people without symptoms might be driving the spread of coronavirus more than we realized“, CNN
COVID-19 Useful Information -> Transmission