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COVID-19

The Aboriginal Health Council South Australia endorses the Australian public health position on COVID-19 vaccination

What causes COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infection caused by a coronavirus called SARS CoV2 and is part of a large family of viruses which cause respiratory infections. SARS CoV-2 originated in China in 2019 and spread across the world including Australia in January 2020.  

How is the virus spread?

If you get a COVID-19 infection, there will be a lot of the virus in our nose and throat, which can be spread easily to other people by coughing, sneezing, sharing things like cups, smoking, singing or even talking.  

If we are physically close to someone who has COVID-19 (within a couple of metres), we can breathe the virus in. Not only this, but we can also catch the virus by touching objects that someone with COVID-19 has already touched, like a door handle or table, and then touching our face.  

How would I feel if I had COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are different for everyone. Some of us only get a runny nose and other people get very sick with a lung infection and can even have to go to hospital and in some cases, may die from the virus. Some people are only sick for a day or two, and others are sick for a long time.

The common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Respiratory symptoms
    • Coughing
    • Sore throat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Runny or blocked nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint aches and pains
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Loss of smell
  • Food might taste different
  • You may not feel hungry
  • Fatigue

How sick can I get from COVID-19?

Some people will only have a mild form of the virus and other people will get very sick and need to be in hospital. We are more likely to need to be in a hospital if we have chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes, or are older than 50 years of age. 

If you feel very unwell, such as having chest pain or difficulty breathing, then call 000 for an ambulance. 

How can I stop the spread?

There are a lot of ways to reduce the spread of the virus, including:

  • Keeping physically apart (at least 1.5 metres away) from people who are not normally living with us 
  • Staying home if you are unwell, except to go and get tested for COVID-19 
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water or hand sanitiser 
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow 
  • Getting vaccinated as soon as possible 
  • Wearing a face mask outside the home if you can’t keep 1.5 metres away from people, in all health care settings and on public transport 
  • Use the QR code check in system 
  • More information about protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19 here. 

What should I do if I return a positive COVID-19 test?

If you return a positive COVID-19 test, remember that it is normal to feel worries or scared. There are plenty of resources available that can guide you on what to do.

SA Health has put together some very important information to help guide those who are COVID-positive, that you can find here.

What does being a close contact mean?

Being a close contact is defined in South Australia as the following:

  • a household member or intimate partner of a COVID-19 case during their infectious period
  • someone who has had close personal interaction with a COVID-19 case during their infectious period:
    • for 4 hours or more
    • where masks are not worn and
    • in close physical proximity and
    • in an indoor setting
  • someone who has been notified by SA Health that they are a close contact
  • someone who has been to an exposure site during the exposure period for that site.

You can find out what to do if this is you, at the SA Health website link here.

If you need more information about what you are required to do, you can ring the COVID-19 Hotline on: 1800 253 787

What if I have already recovered from COVID-19 and I become a close contact?

If you have previously tested positive to COVID-19, you will not be considered a close contact for 12 weeks after you leave isolation.

It is rare, but you can develop symptoms again within 12 weeks after having COVID-19. If symptoms develop, contact your local GP or health service.

COVID-19 Variants

All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, change over time. Most changes have little to no impact on how the virus behaves. However, some changes may affect the virus, such as how easily it spreads and how sick people get.   SARS CoV-2 has changed a few times since the pandemic started and they have been named after letters of the Greek alphabet, for example alpha, beta, gamma.

In Australia, two Variants of the COVID-19Virus have been found to date. They are known as the Delta Variant and the Omicron Variant. We will explain the Delta and Omicron variant in a bit more detail.

Omicron Variant

The Omicron Variant was first reported in South Africa on 24 November 2021 and was first reported in Australia on the 28th November. Currently there is no evidence suggesting that vaccines in Australia are less effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death from Omicron, though there is now strong evidence to support having the booster dose of vaccine to increase protection against infection from this variant. Case numbers of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant are rapidly increasing and this variant now dominates in most regions of Australia.

Recently, the BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron Variant has become more common throughout Australia and has been described as being more transmissible as the original Omicron Variant, but not more severe.

Please see below the ATAGI Statement referencing the Omicron Variant.

You can find out more about the Omicron variant from the ATAGI statement regarding the Omicron Variant here

Further information about the Omicron variant and the timing of the booster vaccine can be found here

Delta Variant

The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was first reported in mid-June of 2021 in Australia and is a mutation of the original COVID-19 virus. The symptoms of the Delta Variant are consistent with that of the original COVID-19 virus, but the Delta strain is more severe and transmissible. The best protection we have against the Delta Variant of the virus is to get vaccinated and to continue CovidSafe practices.

You can find out more about the Delta Variant from the ATAGI statement regarding the Delta Variant here

What is isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is when someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 stays away from others, even in their own home.

Quarantine is when someone who was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or is waiting on a test result for COVID-19, stays away from others.

Isolation

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate away from family and friends or you may have to stay in a hotel in an isolation facility. This could be in Adelaide, Ceduna or Port Augusta. You will need to isolate until you are no longer infectious with the virus, which will be at least 7 days.

Quarantine

If you are unwell, or waiting for the result of a COVID-19 test, then you will need to stay home and quarantine away from family and friends until you receive a negative test result.

If you are required to quarantine, you might need to have friends or family who don't live with you, drop off food and medicines to your doorstep. You will only be allowed out of the house to have your COVID-19 tests, or if you need to seek medical care. 

You may be notified by SA Health, SAPOL or your local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service that you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.  

In the event that you are not contacted, but someone you have been with has contracted COVID-19 there are some guidelines to help you identify if you are a close contact or not as per the SA Health Close Contact webpage.

After changes to COVID-19 restrictions in May 2022, people who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases no longer have to quarantine for 7 days. However, there are other rules that you need to follow, listed on the close contact webpage.

If you are a close contact with COVID-19 symptoms, you must get a PCR test as soon as possible and quarantine until you receive a result.

Help to isolate or quarantine 

Link to information about quarantine and isolation

Being in isolation or quarantine at home, or in a different facility by yourself for a long time, can be hard. Things like calling friends and family for a yarn, reading books, watching some television or doing some cooking can make you feel better.

How should I clean my house after having COVID-19?

The COVID-19 Virus dies quickly on most surfaces. But, once you have recovered from being sick, it’s a good idea to clean the surfaces in your house like kitchen benches, kitchen tables, bathroom sinks and toilets as well as washing your bedding.

Here are some things you can do to make sure that your home is rid of any left over COVID-19 germs:

  • If you can, wear waterproof dishwashing gloves while you clean.
  • Use disinfectant to clean; there are many options in your local supermarket.
  • Things like doorknobs, light switches, taps and mobile phones should be disinfected as they are used/touched a lot.
  • Wash all clothes and bedding using the warmest water possible and dry laundry completely. Do not shake dirty laundry into the air as this can spread the virus.
  • Open windows and doors when possible to let fresh air in.
  • Wash all dishes that you used while you were sick.
  • Clean bathrooms and toilets.
  • Put all rubbish in the bin outside.
  • Wash your hands after cleaning and throwing away the rubbish

Some more information about disinfecting the home after COVID-19

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning – is done with water, detergent/soap and scrubbing.

Disinfecting – involves chemicals that kill any remaining germs on surfaces.

What is the difference between detergent and disinfectant?

Detergents – remove germs, dirt and grime.

Disinfectants – kill viruses and germs but do not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove the dead germs.

There are two main cleaning and disinfection methods you can use:

Two step – where the area is cleaned with detergent and water and then has a disinfectant applied.

Two in one – where a product is used that cleans and disinfects in one.

More information about disinfectants:

The disinfectant should say on the label it is hospital-grade that kills viruses.

To be safe always read the label before using and follow the instructions for use.  

When using a disinfectant wear gloves if available, keep windows and doors open and leave on the surface you are cleaning for at least 10 minutes before wiping off.

If using household bleach as a disinfectant always dilute it as per the instructions on the bottle.

What is the COVID-19 test and where can I get tested?

The test for COVID-19 is a swab. The swab goes at the back of the throat and then up the nose to find any virus that might be there. It can feel a bit uncomfortable but should not hurt.  

If you have a PCR test you will usually receive your results via text within a day or two. You need to stay isolated and away from other people until you get your test result. 

Find your closest PCR testing site and booking times (so that you don't have to wait in long lines) at the SA Health PCR testing page.

Another common type of test is a RAT or Rapid Antigen Test and you can do this at home with a result in 15 minutes. In South Australia, if you test positive on a Rapid Antigen Test, in most cases you do not need to get a PCR test to confirm this result. You are considered to be a case of COVID 19. However, if you have had a positive RAT test and this was unexpected (that is, if you have no symptoms or you are not a close contact), then it is still suggested that you get a PCR test to confirm the positive RAT result

You can find out more about Rapid Antigen Tests here.

Sometimes if the result is urgent, it is very difficult for the person to isolate or are living remotely, A Point of Care Test my also be possible. 

You are legally required to report all positive rapid antigen test results either online via the SA Health website form or you can call the SA COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787.

If you are wondering what sort of test you should be getting, you can find out what option is right for you at the SA Health Testing for COVID-19 page.

You can find out where you can access a RAT across South Australia here: SA Health Website - Rapid Antigen Test webpage.

Testing requirements

The testing requirements in South Australia can be found at the link here and in the table below.