The Novel (meaning New) Coronavirus is a previously unidentified virus from the coronavirus family which cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The virus is also called SARS-CoV-2, and when someone gets sick with this virus it is called COVID-19.
Symptoms of COVID-19
- a cough
- sore throat
- shortness of breath.
How can you catch it?
You might catch the novel coronavirus if someone sneezes or coughs onto you, or if someone sneezes or coughs onto a surface that you touch, and then touch your face or eat.
How can you best prevent yourself from catching it?
Wash your hands properly and often, especially when you have been out in public, and always before eating of touching your face.
Take note of the 6 steps to washing your hands properly on the picture below and do your best to follow the steps each time you wash your hands.
If you don’t have the facilities to wash your hands, use a hand disinfectant, this is not as effective as washing your hands, but is better than doing nothing.
Also, try to stay at least 1.5 metres away from people who are coughing or sneezing. Even if they don’t have the coronavirus, you don’t want to catch whatever they do have.
Stay fit and healthy, try not to get rundown.
What to do if you get sick?
If you feel unwell, it’s always best to stay home, but at the moment, it’s particularly important that you do – to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
If you have travelled overseas, or been in contact with a person known to have contracted the novel coronavirus, then you should immediately contact your doctor to let them know you may have the virus, and take their advice, or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080 for advice. You will need to isolate/quarantine yourself for 14 days from when you returned from overseas, or your last contact with a person known to have the virus.
Make sure you all cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, but don’t use your hand to do so.
If you get sick, then it’s best to wear a facemask if you have one when you go to the doctors to try and prevent yourself from passing the disease on to others.
Should you feel scared/overwhelmed/worried or anxious about the Novel Coronavirus?
It’s normal to be a bit concerned when something like this happens, there’s so much talk/hype about it, and a lot of the stories are scary. It’s best to stick to the information provided by reputable sources for e.g.: Department of Health and the world health organisation.
It’s important to take time to switch off and focus on the things you can control, rather than worrying about things you can’t control. Washing your hands properly and often is the number one thing you can do to protect your health. Staying home if you’re sick is the best thing you can do to protect others.
If you’re feeling scared, worried or upset for two weeks or more, or how you are feeling is distracting you from going about your normal routines, it’s worth speaking to someone about it – either someone close to you or a medical professional.
What do employers need to do in relation to the Novel Coronavirus?
Management needs to keep themselves up to date with the latest information and advice about the novel coronavirus.
Ensure soap and hand sanitizer available for use and encourage workers to use them.
Inform workers about the situation and any changes to organisational policies or procedures.
We have written this information into a toolbox talk for your use as well as written up a Company Policy and Procedure to manage Coronavirus. You may access them via the link below:
Please remember these are generic in nature and need to be modified to suit your company. You will also need to change the references to “Company Name” to your company name and add your logo. Another thing to consider if you are in VIC or WA is the terminology (e.g. OHS or WHS, Employer and PCBU etc). For clarification on anything please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Resources and links
Review the websites from national, state and territory agencies and departs for the latest information and advice. You can also, obtain help and information from your local General Practitioner or Community Health Centre.
A guidance for workers and employers on work health and safety and workers’ compensation in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak has been issued by Comcare. It includes information and advice on WHS obligations, managing risks and compensation coverage.
Safe Work Australia
New South Wales
State and territory health departments and other agencies
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
- Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and safety: Novel coronavirus and absence from work
- National Coronavirus Health Information line: 1800 020 080
- World Health Organisation: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- World Health Organisation: Coronavirus disease advice for the public – Myth busters
- Australian Government Department of Health: Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources
- Fair Work Ombudsman: Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws
Mental Health Support
The COVID-19 outbreak may be causing stress and mental health should be taken into consideration. If you require support or resources, contact or review:
- Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- World Health Organisation: Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak