What is coronavirus and COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new strain of Coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where it has caused a large and ongoing outbreak. It has since spread widely around the world. On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
There is much to learn about how COVID-19 is spread, its severity and other features associated with the virus: epidemiological and clinical investigations are ongoing.
Outbreaks of the new Coronavirus infections among people are always a public health concern, and the situation is evolving rapidly. For updates about COVID-19 please visit the NSW health website here.
Support for our Member Services
Together with the Department of Health and NSW Health, the AH&MRC aims to provide ongoing support and resources to help our Member Services prepare for the possibility of a Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and to minimise the impacts this may have on Aboriginal communities across NSW.
The COVID-19 outbreak has spread globally. On the 11 March 2020 the WHO made the assessment that COVID-19 can be categorised as a pandemic, and is calling everyone to take urgent action. The Johns Hopkins interactive map allows tracking of reported cases internationally.
Member Services should review their plans for both the upcoming seasonal influenza and for COVID-19 pandemic. In Australia, COVID-19 may overlap with seasonal influenza, with knock on effects for Community, health care workers, and health services. Unlike COVID-19, influenza has both a vaccine and treatment with antivirals that can help to control the disease. Preventing and managing influenza will be extremely important this year.
Resources for Healthcare Professionals
- AH&MRC Pandemic Toolkit: for healthcare professionals, community leaders, and decision makers to enhance preparedness and lessen the impact of a severe pandemic in your community.
- AH&MRC Influenza Toolkit: for healthcare professionals, community leaders and decision makers to promote Influenza (flu) prevention and vaccinations in your community.
- NSW Health: find useful resources for healthcare professionals including testing sites.
- Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 SoNG as developed by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia.
- Infection Prevention & Control as developed by the NSW Government, Clinical Excellence Commission.
- Australian Indigenous HealthInfo Net: for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to stay up to date with the latest information available on COVID-19.
- Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19): Download the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response plan for novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources: a collection of posters and other marketing resources are available on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
Prevent a COVID-19 Outbreak in Aboriginal Communities
We know the Coronavirus spreads from person to person. This means everyone can help to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and other flu-like viruses through practising good hygiene habits such as:
- Frequent hand washing. Remember, washing your hands with soap and water, and drying them well, is just as good as washing with hand sanitisers.
- Staying home when sick with flu-like symptoms
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Social distancing (E.g. avoid touching. Think about postponing large family gatherings, and keep in touch with social media, phone and video calls.)
- Be Winter-ready. This year the flu vaccine is more important than ever. Make a plan to receive the flu vaccine from your doctor or healthcare professional as soon as possible.
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
If you are feeling unwell and think you may have symptoms of Coronavirus call your local GP or the free Health Direct Hotline on 1800 022 222 for advice from a registered nurse 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Travel to Rural and Remote Aboriginal Communities
- NSW Health recommends restricting travel in and out of remote Aboriginal Communities. All non-essential travel to regional and remote Aboriginal (MM6 and MM7) communities in NSW should be cancelled. Limiting movement into and between Aboriginal communities will help delay, minimise and prevent an outbreak of COVID-19. For more information about travel restrictions to remote Aboriginal Communities visit the NSW Health website.
Sorry Business & Important Family Gatherings
To slow the spread of COVID-19, new rules were introduced by the Government that limit funerals to 10 people.
It is important to talk with your mob about other ways to hold Sorry Business that will keep the community safe and help families to stay connected. Large gatherings, and even small gatherings inside, can spread COVID-19.
There are other ways to stay connected and grieve together safely:
- People can record messages on their phones for families to play at funerals.
- Talk to your church and funeral director about setting up a live stream for the funeral, e.g. set up a private Facebook event and live stream to this group. This allows friends and family to watch the funeral and be part of the ceremony from their homes.
- You can record the funeral to share and watch again later with others.
- Make plans to hold another ceremony later when the restrictions on gatherings are lifted.
It is hard having to change the way we do Sorry Business. You can always reach out to your local AMS for support and a yarn. You can also call the NSW Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511 or free-call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14.
For more information download the Centre for Aboriginal Health’s Sorry Business & Coronavirus Factsheet and read more information about the new laws impacting public gatherings including funerals and Sorry Business here.
Slow the Spread of COVID-19
Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Preventing the spread of this new virus is the best way to help keep communities safe, healthy and strong.
What does social distancing (physical distancing) mean?
Social distancing describes activities everyone in the community can do to help slow the spread of COVID-19. By having less face to face contact with people, even when you are well, you can slow the spread of COVID-19 for yourself, your family and your community.
- Social distancing (physical distancing) means less close contact with people, including your
friends, family and community. This means less chances for you to catch or spread COVID-19.
- You can still go to work, school or day care and use public transport while maintaining a healthy,
physical distance of 2 big steps (i.e. approx. 2m ) between you and others.
For more information read our COVID-19 Social Distancing for the Community Factsheet.
What does self-isolation or home-isolation mean?
Certain people have been advised by public health professionals that they must self-isolate or home-isolate, also referred to as quarantine. You must home-isolate if you:
- Have COVID-19 or are being tested for it
- Have travelled overseas or;
- Have been in close contact with a person with a COVID-19 infection
This means staying at home and not going to work, school, university, day care, any public areas or using public transport. You can leave home-isolation to see a doctor, but you should call ahead.
Your home-isolation period ends after:
- You receive a negative test result and have fully recovered from your flu-like illness
- You receive a positive test result and have fully recovered from COVID-19 (i.e. 72 hrs symptom free + at least 10 days since onset)
- 14 days from when you returned from overseas
- 14 days after you were last in contact with the person with a COVID-19 infection