How to Take Care of Yourself
What is COVID-19?
Covid-19 – also known as novel coronavirus – is a virus that affects the respiratory system such as the lungs and airways. It is in the same family as the flu virus and most cold viruses. Unlike most common viruses though, it is possible to have Covid-19, and be contagious, before you start to show symptoms. This means you can pass the virus onto others without knowing it. It is this that makes it so dangerous.
What are the symptoms?
The Covid-19 virus symptoms are a lot like flu symptoms and include:
- breathing difficulties or shortness of breath
- sore throat
- fatigue or tiredness
How do you catch it?
In an infected person, the virus attaches itself to droplets emitted from a sneeze or a cough. These droplets can hang in the air for a short time before landing and contaminating a surface. Research has suggested that the virus can survive on some surfaces for up to nine days.
How to Take Care of Others
What can I do to prevent catching or spreading it?
There are six key ways you can help to avoid catching or spreading it:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Lather for at least 20 seconds then rinse. Soap is very effective at killing the virus because it destroys the fatty coating, which it needs to stay alive. Hand sanitiser with at least 70% alcohol/ethanol is also effective if soap is not available.
- Stay at home. When you are out in public, anyone you meet or any surface you touch may be contaminated. So, if you can avoid going out in public, except to do the essentials such as buying necessary groceries, going to the doctor or chemist, or doing some exercise, you limit the chances of picking up, or spreading the virus.
- Stand at least 1.5 metres away from others in public. If you must go out in public, this will help prevent you catching the virus from someone if they sneeze or cough. It is called ‘social distancing.’ If you are going to be in one spot for more than a few minutes, try to stay 2 metres from the next person, giving you 4 square meters of clear space.
- Smother coughs and sneezes. Cough or sneeze into a tissue (and then binning it) or into the bend of your elbow.
- Avoid touching your face. The virus gets into our system via the nose and the mouth. Unfortunately, we instinctively touch these parts of our face many times each day without realising it. But if you keep your hands as clean as possible and be mindful of touching your face less often, you can reduce the risk.
- Avoid shaking hands, kissing or hugging others. Avoiding these common habits can help prevent catching the virus from someone who is infected.
Who is most at risk?
The virus can infect anyone, from babies to the elderly, but some people seem to be more at risk than others. These include:
- People over 65, because the immune system becomes weaker as we age
- People with other health conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney failure, or suppressed immune system
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Travellers who have returned from overseas
The vast majority of people will only have mild symptoms, similar to a common cold. Others however, even otherwise healthy people not in the at-risk categories, can develop complications requiring hospital admission and even intensive care. Sadly, for some, it can be fatal.
What do I do if I think I may have Covid-19?
If you show any of the symptoms of Covid-19 such as fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, or unexplained fatigue, you should call your doctor. Make sure you tell them of your symptoms and if you are in one of the at-risk categories before visiting them so they can make proper arrangements to see you.
If it is a serious medical emergency, such as difficulty breathing, call 000.
Why are there rules about what I can and can’t do?
The virus can spread quickly and quietly, and put many people in hospital. And while our health system is very good, it would not be able to cope with a sudden influx of critical Covid-19 patients – especially on top of all the other people it needs to care for.
To prevent a surge on our hospitals, and straining resources such as staff, beds and things like sterile gowns and masks, we need to minimise the number of people infected – even if many of those people only suffer mild symptoms. And the best way to do this, is to prevent people from passing the virus onto others.
That’s why social gatherings have been strictly limited, in-bound travellers are quarantined, activities have been stopped or limited, and anyone with the virus must quarantine themselves until they have recovered.
Can I leave my house?
At the moment, you may still leave your house – but it should only be for essential things such as necessary grocery shopping, visiting your doctor or pharmacist, going to work, or getting some exercise.
What can I do now?
Due to the risk of passing on the virus, many activities now have limits on the number of people who can take part.
- Social gatherings: no more than two people can gather, unless it is with others in your own household (i.e. people who actually live with you)
- Personal training or boot camp: no more than two people, and try to stay 1.5m apart
- Weddings: no more than five people: the bride, the groom, the celebrant and two witnesses. The ‘one person per 4sqm’ social distance rule applies.
- Funerals: no more than ten people. The ‘one person per 4sqm’ social distance rule applies.
This means that dinner parties, backyard barbecues with mates, group fitness sessions, even sitting in the park with two other friends, is now banned.
Can I still exercise?
Yes, you can go and exercise, such as a walk, bike ride or run, taking the dog out, or doing a 1-on-1 personal training session.
How do I help my at-risk neighbour?
For people who are at-risk, such as the elderly, the chronically ill, or those with suppressed immune systems, this can be a particularly stressful time.
If you have at-risk neighbours:
- regularly phone them to see if they’re ok
- offer to do essential shopping for groceries or medicines
- provide your contact details to their family members
- find out what hobbies they have and see what you can do to support them, such as providing crosswords or puzzles, fabric, timer and tools, garden items.
How do I get help if I am at-risk?
If you are a member of the community who is at-risk with Covid-19 remember, you are strongly advised to stay home if possible until the threat of the disease has passed.
How do I get help if I am in self-isolation?
If you are a member of the community who is diagnosed with Covid-19 remember, you will be isolated, but you are not alone.
The Queensland Government has set up a dedicated Community recovery support and assistance program for residents who are in self-quarantine due to Covid-19. To request assistance, call the Community Recovery hotline on 1800 173 349.
The government is also partnering with the Australian Red Cross, to provide support during self-quarantining, which includes regular telephone calls to check-in on the person’s wellbeing and to identify any practical support they may need
If you are self-quarantined, you should also call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for any further advice and to register for support. Staff can connect you to a local public health unit as well as other health support services.
How to Take Care of Business:
What help is available for local businesses?
Every level of government is trying hard to ensure that businesses are able to ride out the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic by introducing new initiatives.
As these are constantly being introduced and/or expanded by different departments, the team at the Burnett Inland Economic Development Organisation (BIEDO) is providing regular updates on support for businesses, including:
- grants and loans
- stimulus packages
- employee retention schemes
- fee-reductions, waivers and rent relief
- a range of other support options for employers, employees, contractors and sole-traders.
BIEDO is the best place to find all the business information you may need at this time.
I’ve lost work due to Covid-19. What do I do?
Restrictions on business and travel have caused many people to lose their jobs or lose income. To support those people during this time, the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments have both introduced packages.
- the Covid-19 supplement, giving those who have lost work access to the JobSeeker allowance plus an extra temporary supplement of $550 per fortnight, through Centrelink. <click here for more information>
- introduction of the Commonwealth JobKeeper payment to businesses of up to $1,500 per fortnight for each employee. To see if you are eligible to benefit from this, you will need to chat with your employer, as the payments are made to businesses not employees directly. <click here for more information>
- The Queensland Government’s Worker Support package. <click here for more information>