A lot of questions are being raised around self-isolation.
Who needs to do it? Where can I do it? Can I go outside?
The Australian government has provided this guide to answer all your questions.
If you have returned to Australia from overseas, or been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, special restrictions apply. This information sheet should be read in conjunction with the 'What you need to know' and 'Isolation guidance' information sheets at www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources
Who needs to isolate?
All people who arrive in Australia from midnight 15 March 2020, or think may they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, are required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Stay at home or in your hotel
When travelling home or to your hotel to start isolation use personal transport, such as a car, to minimise exposure to others. If you need to use public transport (e.g. taxis, ride-hail services, trains, buses and trams), follow the precautions outlined in the public transport guide at www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources
During the 14 days of isolation, you must stay at home or in your hotel and don't go to public places including work, school, childcare, university or public gatherings. Only people who usually live with you should be in the home. Do not see visitors. If you are in a hotel, avoid contact with other guests or staff.
If you are well, there is no need to wear surgical masks at home. Ask others who are not in isolation to get food and necessities for you. If you must leave home, such as to seek medical care, wear a surgical mask. If you don't have a mask, take care to not cough or sneeze on others. For more information about when to wear a mask, visit: www.health.gov.au/covid19-resources
When in isolation, monitor yourself for symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms include chills, body aches, runny nose and muscle pain.
What do I do if I get sick?
If you develop symptoms (fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath) within 14 days of returning to Australia, or within 14 days of last contact of a confirmed case, you should arrange to see your doctor for urgent assessment.
You should telephone the health clinic or hospital before you arrive and tell them your travel history or that you have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
You must remain isolated either in your home, hotel or a healthcare setting until public health authorities inform you it is safe for you to return to your usual activities.
How can I prevent the spread of coronavirus?
Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others when you are sick 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 wash your hands.
- If unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).
- Exercise personal responsibility for social distancing measures.
If you live in a private house, it is safe for you to go into your garden or courtyard. If you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel, it is also safe for you to go into the garden but you should wear a surgical mask to minimise risk to others and move quickly through any common areas.
Advice for others living with you
Others that live with you are not required to be isolated unless they meet one of the isolation criteria outlined above. If you develop symptoms and are suspected to have coronavirus, they will be classified as close contacts and will need to be isolated.
To minimise the spread of any germs you should regularly clean surfaces that are frequently touched such as door handles, light switches, kitchen and bathroom areas. Clean with household detergent or disinfectant.
Managing the 14 day isolation
Being in isolation can be stressful and boring. Suggestions include:
- Keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media.
- Learn about coronavirus and talk with others.
- Reassure young children using age-appropriate language.
- Where possible, keep up normal daily routines, such as eating and exercise.
- Arrange to work from home.
- Ask your child's school to supply assignments or homework by post or email.
- Do things that help you relax and use isolation as an opportunity to do activities you don't usually have time for.
For the latest advice, information and resources, go to www.health.gov.au
Call the National Coronavirus Help Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.
The phone number of your state or territory public health agency is available at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts
If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.