Queensland Health resources
General COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) information
When so many people are talking, it can be tricky to figure out what you need to pay attention to, and sometimes it is hard to understand the information you’re being told. We’ve gathered all the facts you should know about COVID-19. As this is a new virus and we are learning things about it all the time, we will make sure we keep this information up-to-date.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new, or novel, strain of virus in the coronavirus family that has not been previously identified. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
COVID-19 was discovered in 2019 when a higher than normal number of people in Wuhan, China, started to get pneumonia after having an illness similar to the flu. When doctors tested them, they found these people had a type of coronavirus they hadn’t seen before. There were already lots of types of coronavirus in the world, but this one was new.
For more information, call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) and test with a RAT if you have symptoms. Call emergency services on 000 if you are very sick.
How does COVID-19 spread and how can I catch it?
COVID-19 spreads between people, usually when a sick person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can enter your body through the mucous membranes (wet parts) of your face – your eyes, nose and mouth – which provide a direct pathway to your throat and lungs. The good news is that it can’t get in through other parts of your body like your skin or your hair, but you might be surprised just how easily it can get to the mucous membranes of your face.
The droplets from someone’s cough or sneeze might fall directly into your eyes, nose or mouth if you’re close enough to the infected person, letting the virus enter your system straight away.
Or, the droplets might fall onto a surface where you then put your hands. If you don’t wash your hands, you could move the virus into your eyes, nose or mouth and become infected. The infected person might also get the droplets on their hands if they cough or sneeze into them, and then place them on a surface, where you pick them up.
Direct membrane-to-membrane contact can also spread the virus. This could happen by kissing. The virus can also be spread by sharing items that go in your mouth, eyes or nose, like cutlery, cups, straws, water bottles or cosmetics.
Can COVID-19 spread through the air?
So far, studies show that people are mainly catching COVID-19 through these droplets, rather than the virus hanging out in the air. This is good news, because it means if an infected person is in a room, breathes for a while, then leaves the room, the virus isn’t lurking in the air waiting for the next person to come in.
Who is at most risk of catching COVID-19?
Everyone is at risk of catching COVID-19, but people aged 60 years and over, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness.
We all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and others well. The more everyone follows the advice to wash their hands often and to stay home when they’re sick, the fewer people will catch this virus.
Who is most at risk of getting seriously unwell from COVID-19?
Most people will have minor symptoms just as you would for many other mild viruses, particularly if you are vaccinated and otherwise healthy. Most people will be able to manage their symptoms at home while isolating.
Some people are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. People need to take extra steps to protect themselves and those most at risk.
Those at greatest risk are:
How can I stop myself from getting it?
Washing your hands often and properly means that you can prevent viruses from entering your body. That means washing your hands when you’ve been out and about and before you eat (and after you go to the toilet!).
Did you know there are six steps to washing your hands properly? Follow the below steps to make sure you’re washing your hands successfully.
Try to stay at least 1.5 metres away from people who are coughing or sneezing. Even if they don’t have COVID-19, they might have germs you don’t want anyway!
General COVID-19 enquiries
For enquiries about restrictions, testing, vaccination and more, phone: 13 42 68
COVID-19 health information line
If you need information or advice on COVID-19 or COVID vaccines, call the Australian Government's National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080
Mental health resources
- Blog post: How to look after your mental wellbeing in a crisis
- Lifeline 24 hour crisis line - 13 11 14
- Headspace Townsville - (07) 4799 1799
- Kids helpline - 1800 55 180
- Beyond Blue 24-hour line - 1300 22 4636