Coronavirus – What you need to know
Tuesday, 17 March 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) was first reported in December 2019. There are currently almost 150,000 reported cases across 120 countries. So far, the impact on Australia has been limited. Australia now has almost 300 cases of the virus, with 5 confirmed deaths.
There is no need for alarm but people with diabetes should be aware that, just like with the flu, they are at a higher risk of severe symptoms and complications from coronavirus.
To help stop the virus spreading everyone should practice good hygiene including washing your hands regularly, using a tissue and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze and avoiding close contact with others. People are strongly encouraged to participate in social distancing behaviours to help minimise the spread of the virus.
We are updating our website regularly but we encourage people to check the Department of Health’s Coronavirus Information Page for the latest updates.
How it spreads
The virus can spread from person to person through:
- close contact with an infectious person (including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms)
- contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
- touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.
To help prevent infection and to stop the spread of the virus everyone must practise good hygiene. Good hygiene includes:
- covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
- disposing of tissues properly
- washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
- using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
- if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and
- staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
If you have a confirmed case, you need to self-quarantine to prevent it spreading to other people.
One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing. For example:
- staying at home when you are unwell
- avoiding large public gatherings if they’re not essential
- keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible
- minimising physical contact, especially with people at higher risk such as older people and people with existing health conditions.
What should you do if you feel unwell?
People with coronavirus may experience:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath.
If you are sick and think you have symptoms of COVID-19, seek medical attention. If you want to talk to someone about your symptoms first, call the Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice.
The Department of Health provides the following advice:
- “To seek medical help from a doctor or hospital, call ahead of time to book an appointment.
- You will be asked to take precautions when you attend for treatment. Follow the instructions you are given.
- If you have a mask, wear it to protect others. Stay at least 1.5 metres away from other people. Cover your coughs or sneezes with your elbow.
Tell the doctor about:
- your symptoms
- any travel history
- any recent contact with someone who has COVID-19”
If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.
Your doctor will tell you if you should be tested. They will arrange for the test.
You will only be tested if your doctor decides you meet the criteria:
- You have returned from overseas in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
- You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness with or without fever
- You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause
- You are a healthcare worker who works directly with patients and you have a respiratory illness and a fever
Coronavirus has many of the symptoms as the flu. These symptoms can affect your blood glucose levels and that’s why now is a good time to review your diabetes sick day management plan.
It’s important to be prepared before you get sick – have a personalised sick day action plan and sick day management kit ready to use at the earliest sign of illness.
Make an appointment with your Diabetes Educator or another member of your diabetes healthcare team to help you prepare your plan.
For additional information see our factsheets on managing sick days for
Availability of medicines
The Department of Health has advised that there are no current shortages or supply issues with insulin, diabetes medicines or NDSS products. People with diabetes are advised to order and obtain your diabetes medicines and supplies as usual. There is no need to stockpile.
Want more information?
There is a large amount of information circulating about coronavirus. It is important that you seek updates and information trusted sources.
We recommend the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Information Page. It is regularly updated with the latest information.
If you have questions about coronavirus please call the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. The helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.