Information and advice about coronavirus - symptoms, travel and what to do to reduce the risk of infection.
On this page

Information for everyone

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The most common coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms reported are:

  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties, breathlessness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue or tiredness.

Many people who contract coronavirus (COVID–19) will suffer only mild symptoms. Elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions may experience more severe symptoms.

Who is most at risk of coronavirus?

There are three groups in the community who are most at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Overseas travellers and close contacts

    If you have recently travelled overseas or have had close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) you are at the highest risk of infection. See International travellers section on this site. 
  • Healthcare workers and aged or residential care workers

    People living in group settings with shared facilities (e.g. aged care facilities, boarding schools or correctional facilities)

Those at risk of experiencing more serious disease from COVID-19 are:

  • Elderly or people who have pre-existing medical conditions

    Many people will suffer only mild symptoms; however, early indications are that the elderly are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.

    People with underlying illnesses that make them more vulnerable to respiratory disease, including those with diabetes, chronic lung disease, kidney failure and people with suppressed immune systems are also at a higher risk of serious disease.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are a high risk group for coronavirus (COVID-19) due to higher rates of pre-existing medical conditions.

    Testing is now available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who show symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) such as respiratory symptoms or fever. See more on the Aboriginal Communities links on this website.

People living with HIV

There is no evidence so far to suggest that people living with HIV, who are on effective anti-retroviral therapies with undetectable viral loads, are at increased risk of getting COVID-19 infection or developing severe disease. However, as HIV infection can result in suppression of the immune system and other comorbidities, people living with HIV should be considered a higher risk group than the general population. 

Read the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) factsheet for people living with HIV (Word) for more information.

I am feeling unwell, what should I do?

If you are in any of the most at risk categories and begin to feel unwell and develop a fever or shortness of breath, a cough or respiratory illness either during your period of isolation (self-quarantine), or in the 14 days since arriving home from international travel, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Call ahead to your GP or emergency department and mention your overseas travel before you arrive at the doctor’s office so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.

To help you decide if you are part of the most at risk categories and whether you should be tested, use our interactive coronavirus self-assessment tool.

If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance and tell the operator your recent travel history.

Where are the coronavirus assessment centres?

Assessment centres have been established at a number of Victorian hospitals. You don't need to call ahead (unless stated otherwise below) if you attend one of the following clinics:

Metropolitan health services

  • Alfred Hospital         
  • Austin Hospital
  • Box Hill Hospital - Eastern Health            
  • Casey Hospital - Monash Health
  • Dandenong Hospital - Monash Health
  • Frankston Hospital - Peninsula Health
  • Monash Medical Centre, Clayton - Monash Health
  • Northern Hospital
  • Royal Children's Hospital
  • Royal Melbourne Hospital - Melbourne Health
  • St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne
  • Sunshine Hospital - Western Health

Regional health services

  • Ballarat Base Hospital - Ballarat Health Services
  • Barwon Health North, Geelong - Barwon Health (please call (03) 4215 4445 prior to attending)
  • Bacchus Marsh - Djerriwarrh Health Services
  • Benalla Health
  • Bendigo Hospital
  • Echuca Hospital - Echuca Regional Health
  • Maryborough District Health Service
  • Melton - Djerriwarrh Health Services
  • Phillip Island Health Hub - Bass Coast Health
  • Shepparton Hospital - Goulburn Valley Health
  • Swan Hill District Health
  • Wangaratta Hospital - Northeast Health
  • Warrnambool - South West Healthcare (pre-call 5563 1666)
  • Wimmera Health Care Group – Horsham
  • Wodonga Campus - Albury Wodonga Health
  • Wonthaggi Hospital - Bass Coast Health

Patients who have symptoms compatible with COVID-19 may present to these assessment centres.

We continue to work with our Commonwealth colleagues to approve in-hospital testing for COVID-19.

How does coronavirus spread?

Health authorities around the world believe the virus is spread from close contact with an infected person, mostly through face-to-face or between members of the same household. People may also pick up the virus from surfaces contaminated by a person with the infection.

The virus is spread by people with symptoms when they cough or sneeze. That’s why the best way to protect others is to practice good personal hygiene.

How do you define ‘close contact’?

‘Close contact’ means having face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes  with someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)– or alternatively sharing a closed space with them for more than two hours.

Close contact can happen in many ways, but examples include:

  • living in the same household or household-like setting (for example, a boarding school or hostel)
  • direct contact with the body fluids or laboratory specimens of a confirmed case 
  • being in the same room or office for two hours or more
  • face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes in some other setting such as in a car or a lift or sitting next to them on public transport.

You can reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 by following these steps.

Does the coronavirus survive on surfaces?

Studies suggest that coronavirus (COVID-19) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions such as the type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment.

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus.

In general, to avoid contact with the virus, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water often. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

What is the difference between coronavirus and the flu?

The first symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza infections are often very similar.

They both cause fever and similar respiratory symptoms, which can then range from mild through to severe disease, and sometimes can be fatal.

Both viruses are also transmitted in the same way, by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. You can reduce the risk of both infections with good hand hygiene, good cough etiquette and good household cleaning.

The speed of transmission is an important difference between the two viruses. The time from infection to appearance of symptoms (the incubation period) for influenza is shorter than that for coronavirus. This means that influenza can spread faster than coronavirus.

While the range of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the proportion of people who develop severe disease appears to be higher for coronavirus.

International evidence consistently shows that most people have mild symptoms. While evidence varies from country to country, it is currently estimated that around 15% of people will experience severe infections and 5% will become critically ill. The proportions of severe and critical coronavirus infections are higher than for influenza infections.

What is the treatment for coronavirus?

There are currently no vaccines that protect against coronavirus (COVID-19).

While there is no specific pharmaceutical treatments for coronavirus, early diagnosis and general supportive care are important.

There are no current recommendations to treat patients with mild or moderate COVID-19 illness, or their close contacts, with hydroxychloroquine or anti-viral agents.

Treatment of COVID-19 with antivirals is considered experimental and should only be considered within the context of controlled interventional trials.

Most of the time, symptoms will resolve on their own. People who have serious disease with complications can be cared for in hospital.

How do we know people who have had coronavirus are no longer infectious?

People with a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection stay in quarantine until they are no longer experiencing symptoms of coronavirus infection.

Before they are released from quarantine, their doctor or specialist care team assesses they are no longer infectious.

Once they are discharged they have a follow up assessment by the medical team to make sure they remain well.

Can pets be infected with coronavirus?

While coronavirus (COVID-19) seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now mainly spreading from person-to-person. 

There is no evidence that any animals, including pets in Australia, might be a source of infection with the virus. 

There have also been no reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with coronavirus in Australia.

There is also no evidence that companion animals including pets can spread coronavirus. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.

Remember, animals need to be looked after during the COVID-19 pandemic too. For more information regarding domestic pets, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19): AVA updates.

And for those in the farming and agricultural sector, see: Coronavirus (COVID-19) page in Agriculture Victoria website.

What are some of the way to achieve physical distancing?

See our advice on our physical distancing page.

Self-quarantine

Who is required to self-quarantine?

The following groups are required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days:

  • International travellers - please see international travellers on this website
  • those who have come into contact with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • people with a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19).

What if I start feeling unwell during self-quarantine?

If you start to feel unwell – and especially if you develop any with any of the typical symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) during self-quarantine, you should either:

  • call the dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) for advice
  • call ahead to your GP and mention your overseas travel before you arrive at the doctor’s office so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.
     

If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance.

How should I prepare for self-quarantine?

Everyone should take steps to prepare for the possibility of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Victoria in the coming weeks or months.

Make a plan on how you and your family, including pets, would have to manage if you needed to stay at home for 2 to 3 weeks.

There are certain supplies you may need if you and your family are in quarantine at home. These include things like non-perishable food items, soap, toilet paper, tissues, feminine care products, nappies and pet food.

Ensure you have enough prescriptions of essential medicines if you need to stay home.

Please don’t stockpile or hoard items.

The Victorian Government urges Victorians not to needlessly stockpile essential items. It’s important we think of others at this challenging time. Please only buy what you need!

Stay in frequent touch with your close family and friends and ask them to get food, medicines or other necessities for you when you’re running low. You may need to ask for additional help from a carer, family, friends or neighbours.

If you don’t have nearby support to help you do this, call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week). The Department of Health and Human Services can arrange delivery of a free care package for people who do not have support available to them.

Community Support

Woolworths: is offering eligible customers, including seniors, people with a disability and those with compromised immunity or who are required to self-isolate, to register for priority access for home delivery with dedicated delivery windows at: Woolworths Priority Assistance page. These customers can also call 1800 000 610 to seek assistance.

Coles: is offering eligible customers a Coles Online Priority Service. This service will be launching soon for customers who are unable to easily access a Coles Supermarket. This service will allow these customers to purchase their essential items online and have them delivered to their home. Limits on products will still apply. Delivery windows will be open between 9am and 7pm, with deliveries delivered to customers doorsteps. Unattended delivery is also available. 

See international travel page - If you self-quarantined after coming into contact with a confirmed or suspected case of coronavirus (COVID-19)

If, at the end of 14 days, you remain well, you have passed the time limit beyond which you would have fallen ill after being exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). You can cease self-quarantine. No medical certificate is required to enable you to return to other activities.

If you were a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19)

You cannot end isolation until you meet the relevant requirements. To find out more,  call the dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week).

If you are feeling unwell

If, at the end of 14 days, you are unwell with respiratory symptoms, you must stay in self-quarantine. Call the dedicated coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) to find out what you should do next.

What if I am sharing a house with someone who is in self-quarantine?

There are different reasons for people to be in self-quarantine, and so if you are sharing a house with someone in this situation, the obligations on you will differ.

  • If the person is well but has come into close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus

    If the person you live with is in self-quarantine as a precaution and follows all the required steps for self-quarantine, nobody else in the house is required to self-quarantine.
  • If the person is well but has a suspected case of coronavirus

    If the person you live with is in self-quarantine because it is suspected they may have coronavirus, there is no need for others in the house to self-quarantine unless the person becomes a confirmed case. At that point, all people in the household are regarded as having had close contact and are required to self-quarantine.

  • If the person is unwell and has a confirmed case of coronavirus

    If the person you live with is in isolation because it is suspected they may have contracted coronavirus, there is no need for others in the house to self-quarantine unless the person becomes a confirmed case. At that point, all people in the household are required to self-quarantine.

Caring for someone who is sick during an quarantine period

If you are looking after a sick family member during a period of self-quarantine, there are some important things you should do to keep everyone in your home safe:

  • Ensure the sick person remains in one room away from others in the household.
  • Keep their door closed and windows open where possible.
  • Keep the number of carers to a minimum and do not allow visitors from outside the household to visit.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser before and after entering the room.
  • Keep the sick person’s crockery and utensils separate from the rest of the household.
  • If available, wear a surgical mask (single-use face mask) when you are in the sick person’s room
  • Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as tabletops, doors, computer keyboards, taps and handles often.
  • Dispose of tissues and masks in a sealed plastic bag and put in the usual household waste
  • If the person starts to feel worse, call the dedicated coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week) for advice
  • If you need to visit your GP, call ahead and mention that you are currently in self-quarantine so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.

If the person you are caring for develops serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance.

Caring for others around you

Caring doesn’t just benefit others, evidence shows it is one of the best ways to improve our own mental wellbeing.

Think about elderly friends, neighbours, and people with a disability in your community and how you can support each other during a period of self-quarantine. If you are not currently in self-quarantine but others around you are, think about how you might be able to help them out, such as with getting food and necessities.

If you don’t have nearby support to help you do this, call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week). The Department of Health and Human Services can arrange delivery of a free care package for people who do not have support available to them.

Coping with feelings of anxiety

It is normal to feel overwhelmed and stressed during a time like this. It’s important to remind yourself that this is a normal reaction and it will pass.

There are plenty of ways to support other people, or be supported if you are feeling anxious or uncertain.

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
A crisis support service offering short term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.
www.lifeline.org.au

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Mental health information and support for all Victorians
www.beyondblue.org.au

Eheadspace 1800 650 893
Online and webchat support and counselling for 12-25 year olds, their family and friends.
www.headspace.org.au/eheadspace/

Care in Mind - online and phone counselling for people living, working, or studying in Melbourne's northern, central, and western suburbs. Phone: 1300 096 269 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). CareinMIND online counselling.

MensLine - professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Phone 1300 78 99 78 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). MensLine online counselling.

Mindspot - free telephone and online service for people with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. It provides online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression and can help you find local services. Call 1800 61 44 34 (8am - 8pm, Monday - Friday; 8am-6pm, Saturday).

Suicide Call Back Service - mental health support, call back service: 1300 659 467 or online at suicidecallbackservice.org.au (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Youth focused mental health and support services 

Headspace - Call eheadspace on 1800 650 890 or online at www.headspace.org.au

Kids Helpline - Call 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

ReachOut - Online at reachout.com.au

SANE Australia - Call 1800 187 263 or online at sane.org

Specialist areas

1800Respect - confidential counselling, information and support for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse via phone or online chat. Phone: 1800 737 732 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). 1800Respect online chat.

Directline - confidential alcohol and drug counselling and referral service. Phone: 1800 888 236 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Directline online counselling.

Switchboard Victoria - telephone and web counselling, information, and referral service for LGBTQI people. Phone: 1800 184 527 (3pm - 12am, 7 days a week). QLife Webchat.

Stay connected

While you are in a period of self-quarantine, make sure you reach out to the people you trust, like friends, family, neighbours and workmates via phone, e-mail, Facetime, Facebook video, WhatsApp video or other online services.

Share how you feel and try linking with people who are in a similar situation as you. If possible, join an online forum, social media group or other online community to support others and yourself.

Set up healthy daily routines

A regular routine will help you feel happier and less bored. Your routine should include maintaining regular mealtimes, eating a healthy and balanced diet, getting enough sleep and keeping physically active around the house. Avoid excessive use of alcohol.

If you continue to work during self-quarantine, try to stick to your normal work times. If you have spare time, consider doing tasks that give you a sense of achievement.

If you smoke, consider quitting or at least reducing your smoking during this time, particularly if you are recovering from coronavirus.

Stay active

Physical activity is a proven way to reduce the effects of stress. Look for online content that could help you exercise, do yoga or learn a new healthy pastime. Dust off your home exercise equipment, and use the downtime to improve your fitness!

VicHealth has reviewed the best smartphone applications for healthy living.

Stay informed

It is normal to want to stay informed, and there are many sources of information about coronavirus in the media. Remember that too much exposure during quarantine, especially to confronting news content, could be harmful to your mental wellbeing. Set limits on the amount of time you spend watching or reading news or social media commentary.

Can I go outside during self-quarantine?

It’s OK to go out into the backyard of your house or onto the balcony of your apartment or hotel room during self-quarantine, in fact it can help you feel calm and relaxed to get some sun and fresh air. Always observe the recommended physical distancing requirements from the people around you in the home, and wear a surgical mask if you have one.

Can I receive deliveries during self-quarantine?

Yes, although you should maintain appropriate physical distancing from the delivery person and they should not enter your home. They should leave your delivery outside your door. Consider making payment for the delivery online in advance or using a contactless payment method to minimise the chances of physical contact. Avoid paying by cash.

Emergency relief packages

What are the relief packages?

Emergency relief packages are available for vulnerable Victorians needing to self-quarantine due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Emergency food relief care packages are a box of essential food and personal care items which can be provided to vulnerable Victorians who are self-quarantining due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The packages will help make sure people who need urgent support while they self-isolate during the pandemic are able to access essential items.

Who is eligible to receive a relief package?

Vulnerable Victorians who need to self-quarantine due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and don’t have enough food to feed themselves or their families may be eligible to receive a relief package of basic supplies.

These packages contain only the basics for people who do not have access to a support network or alternative means of obtaining supplies such as on-line delivery.

All requests will be assessed on need and urgency, prioritising those in greatest need. Wherever possible, we’re asking all Victorians to arrange for family or friends who are not required to be self-isolated to get food or necessities for you.  

How can people in need get a relief package?

If you are in urgent need and don’t have a support network who can help you, call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

What do the relief packages contain?

Emergency food relief packages contain essential food staples including cereal, long-life milk, sugar, pasta and canned vegetables.

Personal care packages may also be given to those in highest need. These may contain items like soap, deodorant and toothpaste.

How long will the relief package last?

Each emergency food relief package is designed to provide basic food essentials and personal care items for two weeks.

The amount of goods provided will depend on the size of the household and need.

How much will it cost for a relief package?

The relief packages will be provided at no cost to the recipients.

Will people be able to choose brands or specific items?

These packages are made up of basic essentials only and people will have limited choice as to what products are provided. Where appropriate, packages may include additional essentials like baby formula, nappies or pet food depending on household need. We may not be able  to cater for dietary or cultural requirements.

What if a person is too sick to cook for themselves?

If people are unable to cook for themselves, options to provide or deliver meals may be considered.

How will the relief packages be distributed?

Relief packages will be distributed by partner organisations including the Red Cross, and Foodbank Victoria. More than 500 volunteers will be called on to help distribute the packages to those in need.
Where possible, packages will be delivered to the door of self-isolating households.

If you need help to understand this direction, call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days a week).

More information and resources

For content translated into community languages visit our translated resources page.

Video - Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton addresses some of the challenges and myths our community is facing due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) outbreak and provides advice on how we can work together to respond appropriately - 5 February 2020.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton video transcript (Word).

Self-isolation

These documents have been developed to support Australians who have been asked to self-isolate due to COVID-19. 

Information for public housing tenants and people at risk of or experiencing homelessness

Factsheet answering frequently asked questions for public housing tenants and people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

People with a disability and their carers

These factsheets include information and considerations specific to people with disability and people caring for them.

People experiencing family violence - or if you know someone experiencing family violence

Workplace resources

Find out about your workplace entitlements and obligations on the Fair Work website if you're affected by the coronavirus disease.

Additional resources