What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat and shortness of breath. The virus can spread from person to person, but good hygiene can prevent infection. Find out who is at risk and what you should do if you think you have COVID-19.


The Department of Heath has released a collection of resources for general public and industry about COVID-19. Click through to learn more

Quick links:

What are the symptoms?

People with coronavirus may experience:

  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath

If you are concerned you may have COVID-19, use the symptom checker on healthdirect

Illustration of symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath

(source: health.gov.au)

Who is most at risk? 

In Australia, the people most at risk of being infected are those who have recently travelled internationally

Based on experience with other coronaviruses, the people at most risk of serious infection include:

(source: healthdirect.gov.au)


How does it spread?

Like any living organism, viruses like to multiply and spread to make sure they’ll survive. COVID-19 spreads from person to person through droplets that an infected person sneezes or coughs out.

These droplets carrying COVID-19 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.

Images of five actions taken to prevent the spread: stay home when you're sick, cover coughs and sneezes, stay 1.5 metres away from sick people, wash your hands.

(source: health.qld.gov.au)


How can we help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet

  • cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • and if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).

(source: health.gov.au)


I think I might have coronavirus (COVID-19) – what should I do?

If you have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent movements and any close contact with an infected person.

If the Symptom Checker tells you to seek medical help, it is very important that you call before visiting your doctor or the hospital emergency department, to describe your symptoms and travel history.

You can also call the Australian Government's National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080

Go to Symptom Checker

If you have symptoms of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and have travelled overseas in the past 14 days, or have been in contact with someone who has novel coronavirus (COVID-19), you need to see a doctor immediately. Before your appointment, call ahead and tell the staff what your symptoms are and tell them your travel history or that you may have been in contact with a potential case of coronavirus.

(sources: health.qld.gov.au, healthdirect.gov.au)


What should I tell my staff?

Employers should provide information and brief all employees and contract staff, including domestic and cleaning staff where applicable, on relevant information and procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. You should inform staff who meet the above criteria that they should remain isolated in their home. Employees should advise their employer if they develop symptoms during the isolation period, particularly if they have been in the workplace. Public health authorities may contact employers in the event an employee is confirmed to have coronavirus.

(source: health.gov.au)

CCIQ has developed an information guide to address the key safety and employment issues, outlining the base position and additional questions that may arise

Download COVID-19 Employer Guide


What precautions should I take when cleaning?

When cleaning, staff should minimise the risk of being infected with coronavirus by wearing gloves and using alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after wearing gloves. If cleaning rooms or areas of the workplace where a person with a confirmed case of coronavirus or a person in isolation has frequented staff may wish to wear a surgical mask as an added precaution. If a confirmed case of coronavirus or a person in isolation is in a room that cleaning staff need to enter, they may ask them to put on a surgical mask if they have one available.

(source: health.gov.au)


Can food and water spread coronavirus?

Some coronaviruses can potentially survive in the gastrointestinal tract however, food-borne spread is unlikely when food is properly cooked and prepared. With good food preparation and good hand hygiene, it is highly unlikely that you will become infected with coronavirus through food.

It is unknown at this time if the virus is able to survive in sewerage. Those who work closely with sewerage should take the same precautions as those outlined above for cleaners. Drinking water in Australia is high quality and is well treated. It is not anticipated that drinking water will be affected by coronavirus.

(source: health.gov.au)


Additional resources