What is Coronavirus and COVID-19?
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a virus that causes the disease Coronavirus 19 (COVID-19). The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic on the 11th of March 2020 after it spread from Wutan, China to over one hundred countries
For updates about COVID-19 outbreak in NSW please visit the NSW Health website here.
Member Services Support
The AH&MRC is providing ongoing support and resources to help our Member Services during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak to help minimise the impact of COVID-19 on Aboriginal communities across NSW.
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 Infection Control Manual: This Infection Control Manual has been designed by AH&MRC to assist those working in ACCHO’s to have easy access to the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.
- AH&MRC Influenza Toolkit: for healthcare professionals, community leaders and decision makers to promote Influenza (flu) prevention and vaccinations in your community.
- 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: Designed so that 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).
- Therapeutic Goods Administration: read about hand hygiene products that require evaluation from the TGA and inclusion in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ATGR) to be sure you use a sufficient grade product in your clinic.
- Ministry of Health: download a two-page factsheet for Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and Aboriginal Medical Services on what happens when someone in your clinic tests positive for COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Primary Healthcare Guidance: provides recommendations to questions from healthcare professionals to help support the prevention and management of COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Please check this page regularly for the latest recommendations.
- COVID-19 GP Checklist: for primary care providers working in both the mainstream and Aboriginal Community-Controlled sectors to help best support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients living with a chronic health condition during COVID-19.
Telehealth information for healthcare practices
On 13-March 2020, Covid-19 Temporary MBS Telehealth Services were introduced and enable patient access to a variety of healthcare providers including GPs, Nurse Practitioners, Aboriginal Health Practitioners, Mental Health professionals, Allied Health professionals and some medical specialists, through the use of video or telephone calls. For more information read our Telehealth Services for Healthcare Professionals Factsheet or visit the MBS Online website.
COVID-19 Community Information
Confirmed COVID-19 case locations in New South Wales
Together, we must continue to take the right steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our Communities safe during the pandemic.
COVID-19 Testing Information
- You should perform either a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) or a PCR for COVID-19
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms
- Are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- Have been advised to do so by a health professional.
- While waiting for your results, you must stay home and isolate from members of your household.
- Read AH&MRC’s How to Self-Isolate while Living with Others Checklist for more information.
- It is common to feel anxious or worried right now. If you need support have a yarn with a friend or call your local Aboriginal Medical Service or Beyond Blue Support Services: 1300 22 4636 for a chat.
Prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in Aboriginal communities
We know the COVID-19 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.
- If you feel sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home and go to your nearest COVID-19 testing clinic and get tested.
- Covering coughs and sneezes.
- Social distancing. This means keeping a safe distance of 1.5 metres (two big steps) apart from others and avoiding crowds or large family gatherings.
- It’s not to late to vaccinate! Call you local AMS to have your free flu shot today. Help build immunity for Community and protect you, your family and Community from flu this year.
People with symptoms of COVID-19 should perform either a RAT or a PCR.
PCR testing is free for everyone. To get tested, visit your local PCR testing-clinic.
- Sore or scratchy throat
- Shortness of breath
- Other reported symptoms include: loss of smell or taste, runny nose, muscle and joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting and loss of appetite.
Travel to rural and remote Aboriginal communities
COVID-19 spreads easily between family members, especially when they gather together for joyful celebrations or Sorry Business. Let’s keep our mob safe!
To keep our mob safe, NSW Health strongly recommends that anyone travelling to rural and remote Aboriginal communities:
- get vaccinated to minimise risk to you and your family
- if you are sick, don’t travel! Take a test and wait at home until you know its negative.
Telehealth information for you and your family
Telehealth is a way of providing health services to people using video-calls or telephone-calls. Telehealth can be done almost anywhere, without having to go into your local AMS, but your health care team may decide that you need to be seen in person or be referred. You will still need to make an appointment and Telehealth may be a significant change to how you usually access health services, but it can also help reduce the spread of Covid-19 to you, your family and community. Read our Telehealth Services for Community Factsheet and call your AMS for more information.
Sorry business & important family gatherings
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.
What is social distancing?
Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is the best way to keep your communities safe, strong and healthy. You can still go to work, school or day care and use public transport while maintaining a healthy, physical distance of 2 big steps (approx. 1.5m) between you and others.
Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through:
- direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their
- Close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19
- Touching objects or surfaces, such as door handles or tables that have been contaminated.
For more information read our COVID-19 Social Distancing for the Community Factsheet.
What is self-isolation?
People who have tested positive to COVID-19 must self isolate.
Self isolation means a person must
- not go to work or school
- not go to any public places (e.g. shops, parks, beaches)
- not use public transport
- not have any visitors in your home, unless they are providing healthcare, emergency maintenance or emergency services.
Your self-isolation period at home ends after 7 days after you tested positive to COVID-19.
You can leave self-isolation to:
- get a COVID-19 test
- seek urgent medical care
- avoid an emergency situation (including to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm from domestic violence).
For more information on social distancing, please visit NSW Healths website.