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:
- Respiratory symptoms
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Runny or blocked nose
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
- Diarrhoea and vomiting
- Loss of smell
- Food might taste different
- You may not feel hungry
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
- Stay home if you are unwell
- Wipe down surfaces that have been used or touched
- 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 worried or scared. There are plenty of resources available that can guide you on what to do.
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 in total (when all the time spent together is added up)
- 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
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 4 weeks after you leave isolation.
It is rare, but you can develop symptoms again within 4 weeks after having COVID-19. If symptoms develop, contact your local GP or health service to check what tests you might need.
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-19 Virus have been found to date. They are known as the Delta Variant and the current Omicron Variant and sub-Variants.
The Omicron Variant was first reported in South Africa on 24 November 2021 and was first reported in Australia on the 28th November. It quickly replaced previous variants to be the main cause of COVID infections in Australia.
As of July 2022, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron have become more common throughout Australia, being more easily transmitted than previous Omicron infections.
What is isolation and quarantine?
What is isolation?
Isolation is when someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 stays away from others, even in their own home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate away from family and friends.
During your isolation period, 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 if you need to seek urgent medical care.
If you need information about how to isolate, you can call the SA COVID-19 information line (9am-5pm) on 1800 253 787
What is quarantine?
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.
After changes to COVID-19 restrictions in May 2022, people who are close contacts of COVID-19 cases no longer have to quarantine at home 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 recieve a result.
If your test result is positive, then you will need to follow the SA Health isolation guidance for people with COVID-19.
COVID-19 Isolation Requirements for people living in South Australia
COVID-19 isolation requirements for people living in South Australia came into effect on 9th September 2022:
- People who test positive to COVID-19 will only need to isolate for five days
- You can leave isolation after five days if you do not have symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath
- If you have these symptoms, please stay home and isolate away from others until the symptoms improve
On days 6 and 7 after testing positive:
- You must wear a single-use mask around other people
- You must not enter tier 1 or 2 sensitive settings, except if you need to access urgent medical care or supplies. Workers cannot return to these settings until day 8 at the earliest
On days 8 to 10 after testing positive:
- It is strongly recommended that you wear a mask when you are around other people
- Avoid visiting hospitals (except if you need urgent medical care or supplies), correctional services, residential disability care or residential aged care facilities
- If you no longer have symptoms, then you may return to these settings if agreed by your employer (masks are strongly recommended)
If you have a weak immune system (transplant recipient or receiving chemotherapy), you should continue to follow this advice on days 8-14.
Help to isolate or quarantine
Being in isolation or quaranine 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.
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.
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
Sometimes if the result is urgent, it is very difficult for the person to isolate or are living remotely, A Point of Care Test may also be possible.
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.
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 Long COVID?
Long COVID or Post COVID-19 Syndrome is the name for ongoing effects of COVID-19 on a person’s body, mind, and emotions. It is called ‘Long COVID’ if the symptoms are still there more than 12 weeks after leaving isolation.
If the symptoms haven’t lasted this long, and it is between 4 weeks to 12 weeks since the person had COVID-19, this is called “Ongoing symptomatic COVID-19”. If you still have symptoms, it is important to have a check-up. Getting the best treatment possible can help prevent some ongoing problems from Long COVID.
What are the symptoms of Long COVID?
There is a wide range of symptoms reported by people experiencing Long COVID - the most common symptoms are fatigue, cough and shortness of breath.
Common Long COVID symptoms include:
- fatigue or extreme tiredness
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- brain fog, trouble concentrating, difficulty with memory
- loss of taste and smell
- sleep and mood disturbance
- headaches or dizziness
- joint or muscle pains
- chest pain
- hair loss
- hoarse voice
- difficulty performing day-to-day tasks
It is important to remember:
- Long COVID can occur in anyone who has had the COVID-19 virus, even if the initial illness was only mild
- Being vaccinated against COVID-19 can reduce your chance of developing Long COVID
- Symptoms may come and go, or get better or worse over time
- Some people with Long COVID may only have one or two of these symptoms- it is still important to have a check-up
How to treat symptoms
Firstly, if you develop new COVID-19 symptoms more than 4 weeks after your recovery from COVID-19, get a PCR test as it is possible to be reinfected.
When recovering from illness, such as COVID-19, it is common for your symptoms and energy levels to change.
If you are feeling well, you may try to do more things, but this could make you feel unwell and you may need to rest. Remember that you need rest to recover.
Fatigue from Long COVID can be severe. For Long COVID patients experiencing fatigue, a small task can cause physical exhaustion and difficulty concentrating.
This can be frustrating and stressful. It is important to pace, plan and prioritise your activities, in order to avoid becoming this exhausted.
Most people make a full recovery, but it may take time. Monitor your symptoms and seek help if you are not improving or if you need support. It can also be helpful to ask family and friends for support if you need it.
Long COVID patient support groups are also emerging.
Find more information on Managing your COVID-19 symptoms at home.
What is PIMS?
PIMS-TS or PIMS stands for Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome temporally associated with COVID-19. It is sometimes also called MISC-C (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children associated with COVID). PIMS is a rare complication of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Who gets PIMS?
Kids and teenagers can get a rare, serious sickness after having COVID-19 infection. It is called ‘Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome’ or PIMS. PIMS can occur even with a really mild COVID-19 infection.
Even though PIMS is a very rare complication of COVID infection, it can be severe and mean that some kids will have to go to hospital and in some cases, even intensive care. This means that being vaccinated is especially important to keep kids safe from getting really sick.
What causes PIMS?
When viruses like COVID-19 get into our body, our body’s immune system (or “germ-fighting” system) works to get rid of them. PIMS happens when the immune system gets overactive. Instead of just fighting the virus, it harms the rest of the body as well.
How can we protect our kids?
Kids should have the COVID-19 vaccines before they come into contact with the COVID-19 virus if they are eligible to do so. This is the best way to help protect them from PIMS.
When should I watch out for PIMS?
PIMS usually starts between 2 and 6 weeks after the COVID-19 infection.
What are the signs that my kids might have PIMS?
Kids get a bad fever and feel really sick or weak. They can have trouble breathing, tummy pain or a rash. Sometimes they can vomit or have runny poo. They may have red eyes or lips, and may get swollen up in the neck, hands or feet.
What should we do if our gets get PIMS?
If a child gets these problems, it could be PIMS, or it might be another serious problem. It is important to see a doctor or clinic straight away and you should tell them that the child has had COVID-19.
There are treatments for PIMS. It is important to act quickly, as kids can get sick fast.
You can phone 000 for an ambulance if you are worried.