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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 we 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 15 minutes or more and
    • 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

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.

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 Delta Variant is now the most common COVID-19 strain in Australia and the best protection we have against the virus is to get vaccinated and continue CovidSafe practices.

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

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. Please see below the ATAGI Statement referencing the Omicron Variant.

As the Omicron variant continues to spread across Australia, more information will be found from:

  • Laboratory studies,
  • Studies of virus transmission,
  • Age-specific care-hospitalisation and case-fatality ratios,
  • Studies of breakthrough infections after previous infection and/or vaccination.

These studies are underway globally and in Australia.

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

Watch Dr. Luca De Toca answer questions about the Omicron Variant and vaccination here

What is isolation and quarantine?

Isolation

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

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may have to stay in a hotel in Adelaide until you are no longer infectious with the virus, which will be at least 10 days.

Quarantine

If you are told by SA Health or SAPOL that you have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, then you must quarantine by staying at home for 14 days.  

This might mean having friends drop off food and medicines to your doorstep. You will only be allowed out of the house to have your COVID-19 tests. 

If you cannot safely quarantine at home because your family is large, or you feel you cannot manage then there are other options for quarantine such as going into a hotel in Adelaide. 

Link to information about quarantine and isolation

Being in isolation or quarantine at home, or in a hotel 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.

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.  

You will usually receive your PCR results by text in 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.

Sometimes, if the result is urgent, or it is very difficult for the person to isolate, or you are living remotely, a quick test may be possible. There are 2 types of quick test that can be done.  A Point of Care Test can provide results in one to two hours. While a Rapid Antigen Test can provide results in 15 minutes. If you test positive using a rapid antigen test, your result does not need to be confirmed with a PCR test.

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.

Further information about rapid antigen tests can be found at the SA Health Website - Rapid Antigen Test webpage.

New rapid antigen tests pick up points will open in Port Augusta and Murray Bridge from 8am 18 January, 2022.  If yu are a close contact, you can access a kit of two free rapid antigen tests from RAT Collection Points.  

Port Augusta RAT Collection Point:

Location: Cental Oval (drive-in)

Open: 7 days from 8am-6pm

Murray Bridge Collection Point:

Location: Murray Bridge Showgrounds (drive-in)

Open: 7 days a week from 8am-6pm

More sites across the state will open in the coming weeks, we will update on our website when they ar announced.

You must register on the SA Health website to collect your kit