Common questions about Covid-19
Most people with COVID-19 will have a mild illness and will recover in a few days or so, with some people having no symptoms at all. The most common symptoms are headache, runny nose, sore throat, dry cough and fatigue. Most symptoms can be managed with rest, ensuring you are well hydrated, and paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain and/or fever.
You should contact your GP if you are pregnant or have a chronic condition such as obesity, diabetes, immunocompromise, cancer, severe mental illness or problems with your heart, lungs, kidneys or brain.
See the NSW Health factsheet for confirmed positive cases: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/advice-for-confirmed.aspx
See video on how to manage Covid-19 at home:https://vimeo.com/660799188/53ca21197d
Contact your GP if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- breathlessness on mild exertion (for example, walking up a flight of stairs)
- fever (temperature greater than 38°C) or feeling hot, and not responding to treatment
- coughing up mucous regularly
- signs of dehydration (dizziness when standing up, passing less urine [‘wee’] than usual)
- significant fatigue or lethargy stopping you from doing normal tasks
- severe headache that’s not responding to pain medication
Call ‘000’ for an ambulance and tell them you have Covid-19 if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- breathlessness at rest and or you’re unable to speak in sentences
- unconscious, fainting or drowsy
- skin turning blue or pale
- cold and clammy, or pale and mottled, skin
- pain or pressure in the chest lasting more than 10 minutes
- passing no urine (‘wee’) or a lot less urine than usual
- coughing up blood
You can check your symptoms using the Covid-19 Symptom Checker: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/symptom-checker/tool/basic-details
See the full factsheet ‘Monitoring Covid-19 symptoms’: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/managing-covid-19/monitoring-covid-19-symptoms#signs
You must self isolate for 7 days from the day of your positive RAT or PCR test, as long as you don’t have a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. You do not need to test before leaving isolation. If you still have symptoms in the last 24 hours of your isolation, you must remain in isolation until 24 hours after your symptoms have resolved. Speak to your GP if you are concerned.
Please read the full fact sheets here:
Self isolation information: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/self-isolation-covid-and-close.aspx
Recovery and release from isolation: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/recovery.aspx
Covid-19 infection in children most often resembles a common cold or flu, and the need for hospital treatment is rare. There is no specific treatment for Covid-19, and symptoms can be managed in the same way you would manage any normal cold or flu. Children with underlying conditions such as obesity, heart, lung or neurological problems and genetic conditions may become more unwell from Covid-19 and should be reviewed by their GP.
General measures for managing an unwell child include encouraging them to drink regularly, making sure they are dressed appropriately so that they don’t get too hot or cold and encouraging them to rest. Paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used for pain and fever.
Monitor your child’s condition and call your GP or NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933 (8:30am to 8:30pm) or the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 (24/7) if you notice:
- persistent fever (>39°C) which is not responding to treatment
- mild breathlessness
- drinking less than half of what they would normally drink
- urine output less than half of usual volume, and urine dark in colour
- moderate vomiting or diarrhoea
- unable to stand or walk.
For more information see the following fact sheets:
Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne ‘Covid-19’: https://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/fact_sheets/Coronavirus_COVID-19/
NSW Health advice for Covid-19 infection: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/advice-for-confirmed.aspx
Health Direct ‘Caring for someone with Covid-19’: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/managing-covid-19/caring-for-someone-with-covid-19
Mental health support during covid 19: https://www.health.gov.au/health-alerts/covid-19/support/mental-health
NSW health in partnership with Sonder have provided a free personal wellbeing service via a free app which provides 24/7 multilingual phone and chat access to mental health, wellbeing, medical support services: https://be.sonder.io/wellbeing-nsw-health
Healthy ways to boost your immune system: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system
Decision aid. Should I get the Covid 19 vaccine ? https://www.ncirs.org.au/covid-19-decision-aid
Covid 19 vaccines FAQs: https://www.ncirs.org.au/covid-19/covid-19-vaccines-frequently-asked-questions
Covid 19 vaccination information for children, teens, parents, guardians: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccine-information-for-children-teens-and-parentsguardians
How to speak to kids about Covid vaccination: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-how-to-speak-to-kids-about-covid-19-vaccines
Preparing for Covid vaccination: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-preparing-for-covid-19-vaccination
Covid 19 vaccination – information/consent form for parents/guardians of children aged 5 – 11 yo – https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-information-and-consent-form-for-parents-and-guardians-of-children-aged-5-to-11-years
- National Coronavirus Hotline:1800 020 080 (for information about COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
- COVID Symptom Checker – link here – find out if you need to get tested or seek medical help, plus check any side effects of vaccination.
- Restriction Checker – link here – find out what you can and can’t do in your state or territory.
- Managing Mild COVID-19 at home with assistance from your GP – link here – for patients who have tested positive to COVID-19 and are being cared for at home with assistance from their GP.
- Healthdirect Australia – link here – guidance for people that have tested positive to COVID-19, including links to specific information for
states and territories.
- Covid 19 test, trace, isolate, quarantine protocol https://www.health.gov.au/
sites/default/files/documents/ 2022/01/covid-19-test-isolate- national-protocols.pdf
- Info on getting tested for covid 19 ( talks about RAT/PCR) https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/
- Testing positive to COVID 19 and managing safely at home ( incl brief red flag symptoms) https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/
- Monitoring COVID 19 symptoms (quite detailed info re symptoms and good – red flags etc) https://www.healthdirect.gov.
au/managing-covid-19/ monitoring-covid-19-symptoms# signs
- NSW health self isolation/testing protocols https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/
Infectious/covid-19/Pages/ self-isolation-and-testing. aspx
- Release and recovery from Covid 19 https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/
- People exposed to COVID https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/
- Covid 19 self isolation and support https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/
Infectious/factsheets/Pages/ self-isolation-covid-and- close.aspx
- Caring for someone with COVID https://www.healthdirect.gov.
- Mental health support during covid 19 https://www.health.gov.au/
- NSW health in partnership with Sonder have provided a free personal wellbeing service via a free app which provides 24/7 multilingual phone and chat access to mental health, wellbeing, medical support services https://be.sonder.io/
- Covid 19 vaccines FAQs https://www.ncirs.org.au/
- Covid 19 vaccination information for children,teens,parents,
guardians https://www.health.gov.au/ resources/publications/covid- 19-vaccine-information-for- children-teens-and- parentsguardians
- How to speak to kids about Covid vaccination https://www.health.gov.au/
resources/publications/covid- 19-vaccination-how-to-speak- to-kids-about-covid-19- vaccines
- Preparing for Covid vaccination https://www.health.gov.au/
resources/publications/covid- 19-vaccination-preparing-for- covid-19-vaccination
- Covid 19 vaccination – information/consent form for parents/guardians of children aged 5 – 11 yo https://www.health.gov.au/
resources/publications/covid- 19-vaccination-information- and-consent-form-for-parents- and-guardians-of-children- aged-5-to-11-years
- Covid 19 vaccine questions https://www.health.gov.au/
news/top-3-covid-19-vaccine- questions-anxiety-with-covid- booster-protections-and-child- omicron-symptoms
- Decision aid. Should I get the Covid 19 vaccine? https://www.ncirs.org.au/
- How to boost your immune system https://www.health.harvard.
Facts about Covid-19:
- Latest updates: Omicron is a variant of concern that is currently spreading quickly. It appears mild in symptoms with fatigue & soreness the main manifestations, rather than respiratory, gastro or fever presentations. With over 30 mutations, including 10 relating to the spike proteins that can help evade our immune systems, nations are on high alert to understand its infectivity, deadliness and resistance to vaccination.
- Virus: SAR-CoV-2 is a virus that incubates for ~5 days and can spread without symptoms in approximately 45% of cases. Known as a coronavirus, it can last on surfaces for up to 30 days and transmit through respiratory droplets or through air (its microdroplets can travel 10 metres). Over 260 million cases and 5 million deaths have been confirmed globally due to COVID-19, and over four billion people have had at least one vaccination (~55% of the world’s population). Delta variant is currently the fastest spreading strain of the virus with a R0 of 5-8 (a measure of transmissibility; original Wuhan strain had a R0 of 2). Other significant variants include Alpha variant (UK), Beta variant (South Africa), Gamma variant (Brazil) and the emerging Omicron variant (South Africa).
- Symptoms: Documented symptoms include fever (80% of cases), cough (69%), fatigue (38%), mucous (34%), loss of smell (30%), shortness of breath (19%), body aches (15%), headache (14%), sore throat (14%) and gastro-intestinal symptoms (5%). 80% of individuals develop mild to moderate symptoms, with 15% developing severe symptoms, and 5% suffering critical symptoms. The Delta variant appears more like a cold, with predominantly headache, runny nose and sore throat symptoms.
- Vaccination: In NSW, those not vaccinated against COVID-19 are 16x more likely to die or end up in ICU, and most current COVID-19 cases are unvaccinated individuals. Pfizer, AstraZeneca & Moderna are the current vaccinations available in Australia, with Novavax also being supplied from 2022:
- Pfizer-BioNTech – This is a mRNA vaccine which is 95% effective against symptoms and 90% effective in reducing transmission – against Delta variant its effectiveness decreases to 80%. Two doses are provided 21 days apart and side effects include sore arm (68%), fatigue (29%), headache (26%), muscle pain (17%), and fever/chills (7%).
- AstraZeneca-Oxford – This is an adenovirus DNA vaccine which is 82% effective against symptoms and 100% effective against severe disease – against the Delta variant it is 70% effective. Two doses are provided 6 to 12 weeks apart and side effects include sore arms (64%), fatigue (53%), headache (53%), muscle aches (44%), fever/chills (32%), and joint pains (26%). Rare clotting disorders have been reported (1 in 40,000 in under 50 years & 1 in 200,000 in over 50 years) which is less common than clotting from COVID-19 itself, or just taking an airplane trip.
- Novavax – This is a spike protein vaccine that is 90% effective, administered in 2 doses 21 days apart, and comes with similar side effects to the vaccines above.
- Moderna – This is a mRNA vaccine that is 90% effective, administered in 2 doses four weeks apart, and has similar side effects to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
- By the way, also make sure you get an influenza jab at least a week apart from COVID vaccination.
- Booster vaccines – Those who are 18 years and above, and have been doubly vaccinated at least 6 months ago, are eligible for a 3rd booster vaccine to ensure a stronger and longer lasting protective effect individually, and prevent community spread of the virus. Pfizer (or Moderna) is the approved and suggested booster vaccination regardless of the original vaccine, though AstraZeneca is available upon request if Pfizer is not suitable medically, or you initially had the AZ vaccine with no side effects. It is unknown whether further booster vaccinations will be necessary, and guidelines are regularly changing.
- Risk: The most important ways to reduce infection risk include social distancing, N-95 or 3-ply masks, hand hygiene, surface cleaning, vaccination, and reducing time in crowded places with poor ventilation. Adopting “universal precautions” when there is an active outbreak is helpful – this means assuming everyone else has COVID-19 and doing everything possible to reduce the risk of transmission. Stabilising any chronic health conditions and boosting your immunity is important – read these links for practical ways to improve your health: diet & exercise, stress and rest, medications, and high-risk illnesses. Research shows that exercise, vitamin D supplementation and avoiding influenza concurrently, are strong predictors of recovery.
- Long COVID: 10-20% of COVID-19 patients experience symptoms weeks or months following initial illness, including: breathlessness, cough, fatigue, concentration or memory issues, mood changes, loss of smell or taste, headache, sleep issues, chest pain, muscle aches and joint pains. This is more likely the older the patient, if there is a history of asthma and if the initial illness was severe. Gut biome and overall health status are thought to also increase susceptibility to long COVID; therefore staying healthy is important during this challenging time (managing your health proactively also reduces the chance of severe COVID-19 disease and hospital admission). Most individuals have a full recovery with variable lengths of time – if concerned about symptoms of long COVID, see your regular doctor – Osana is providing a long-Covid program to reduce symptoms and promote recovery.
- Prognosis: COVID-19 is not as infectious as measles or chickenpox but currently has a death rate of 2%. Recent cases of hospitalisation include younger Australians and this is consistent with Delta variant observations around the world. Approximately 14% of cases are severe and need hospital admission, and about 7% of cases end up in intensive care. Hospital admission and death rates are higher in patients who are obese or have chronic health conditions that are not well controlled. Despite being doubly vaccinated, aged care residents and those with pre-existing significant health issues, have been passing away from COVID-19 or been admitted to intensive care.
- Treatment: There are emerging medications approved for treating COVID-19, including anti-virals; these are yet to be approved for use in Australia. Supportive measures include lying prone (on your tummy) to support optimal breathing, panadol and ibuprofen to relieve symptoms (fever, body aches, cough), adequate fluid intake, rest and nasal breathing, together with maintaining personal hygiene and a healthy diet.
- When to seek help: If symptoms are severe and not manageable at home, please seek medical advice. Seek emergency medical care immediately if you experience trouble breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake or have pale, grey or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds. Current therapies that have shown to be effective in treatment of COVID-19 include antiviral therapies, steroids and immune based treatment (such as antibodies from already infected COVID-19 patients).
- More information: We recommend you refer to the Government website for factual updates here and here, and for those researching vaccines and detailed evidence-based answers, refer to the University of Oxford evidence repository (or ask your GP).