A brother and sister racing each other on the beach with their parents following in the background.

This new viral infection is found around the globe and can cause mild to severe respiratory infections.

Did you know?

  • COVID-19 is caused by coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans.
A young man and woman smiling for the camera in a suburban street.

What is it?

COVID-19 is a new disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was first reported in December 2019 and declared as a pandemic on 11th March 2020 by the World Health Organisation.

COVID-19 causes respiratory tract infections. People who have COVID-19 can have mild to more severe symptoms, sometimes developing pneumonia. Most people usually recover although in severe cases it may be fatal.

Information about COVID-19 continues to evolve. Please refer to your State or Territory health department website for the latest advice.

What are the symptoms?

On average, when a person is infected with COVID-19 it takes 5-6 days to first show symptoms, however this may range from 1 to 14 days.1

Most people infected with COVID-19 will develop mild to moderate illness and recover. Some people may not develop any symptoms but can still spread the virus –this is known as being asymptomatic.

The most common initial symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms can include runny nose, muscle or joint pains, nausea, headache, fatigue and loss of smell, taste and appetite.

This is not a full list of all possible symptoms that can occur following COVID-19 infection. To stop the spread of COVID-19, people with even mild cold or flu like symptoms should get tested. If you get tested for the virus, or you have any symptoms, you need to stay at home. You will need to do this until you either have a negative test result or your symptoms have gone –whichever is longer. Information about COVID-19 continues to evolve. Please refer to your State or Territory health department website for the latest advice.

How is it spread?

COVID-19 can spread from person to person through:

  • respiratory droplets produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs
  • close contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19
  • touching objects or surfaces that have droplets from an infected person,and then touching your face or mouth

COVID-19 is a new disease, and this is the current scientific understanding. This may change as more information becomes available.

Who is at risk?

In Australia, people most at risk of catching COVID-19 are those who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, travellers who have recently been overseas, people in group residential settings and people in correctional and detention facilities.

People who may be at a higher risk of developing serious illness include:

  • Older adults
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • People who have certain medical conditions

Other people may be at risk of COVID-19. Please speak to a healthcare professional regarding your individual circumstances.

Prevention options

Practising good hygiene and physical distancing can help to prevent illness and slow the spread of the virus:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (particularly after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, after visiting the toilet and before eating or preparing food)
  • if no water and soap is available use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or into your upper sleeve or elbow and dispose of tissue immediately after you have used it
  • disinfect and clean objects and surfaces that may be contaminated
  • wearing masks in public settings, at events and gatherings
  • if you feel unwell do not go to work or school
  • practice physical distancing –keep 1.5 meters away from others when possible, avoid physical greetings (handshaking, hugs and kisses) and avoiding large crowds and public gatherings.

The risk of serious illness from COVID-19 may be reduced with immunisation.

To stop the spread of COVID-19, people with even mild cold and flu like symptoms should get tested. If you get tested for the virus, or you have any symptoms, you need to stay at home. You will need to do this until you either have a negative test result or your symptoms have gone –whichever is longer.

Information about COVID-19 continues to evolve and the Australian government continue to update their advice. If you have any concerns or would like more information about COVID-19, please speak to a healthcare professional or refer to your State or Territory health department website for the latest advice.

References

  1.  World Health Organisation. Q&A on coronavirus (COVID-19).https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses (accessed June 2021)

COVID-19 is a new disease, and this is the current scientific understanding. This may change as more information becomes available.

NP-AU-GVX-WCNT-210002 Date of GSK Approval: July 2021