Coronavirus: Most Frequently Asked Questions from Australians

coronavirus australia

Since January 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has spread from China. Until Friday evening (28 February 2020), the Australian population has many questions.

Portrait of the virus?

Coronaviruses (Covid 19) are a large family of viruses, which cause illnesses ranging from the common cold (some seasonal viruses are Coronaviruses) to more severe illnesses such as MERS or SARS. The virus identified in January 2020 in China is a new Coronavirus. The disease it causes has been named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization – (WHO).


The main symptoms are fever or the sensation of fever and signs of breathing difficulties such as coughing or shortness of breath within 14 days of returning from an area where the virus circulates.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no vaccine against COVID-19 Coronavirus at this time. Several treatments are currently being evaluated in France, in conjunction with the WHO, for use against the COVID-19 Coronavirus. In the meantime, treatment is symptomatic.

Mode of transmission?

The first people to have contracted the virus went to the Wuhan market in Hubei Province in China. An animal-borne disease (zoonosis) is therefore preferred. Human-to-human transmission has since been confirmed.

People most at risk?

As with many infectious diseases, people suffering from chronic illnesses (hypertension, diabetes), the elderly or the frail are at higher risk. In more severe cases, the disease can lead to death.

Incubation period of the disease?

The incubation period, (i.e. the period between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19), is 14 days.

Where are the tests performed and how long does it take to diagnose the disease?

Diagnostic tests for COVID-19 Coronavirus are performed at all referral health care facilities. Several thousand tests may be performed daily. The test is performed only in case of suspicion of the disease, validated by the SAMU and by a referring infectiologist. It is a test of specific biology of the Coronavirus COVID-19. To obtain a result, it takes between three and five hours.

At what distance is it contagious?

The disease is transmitted through sputum (sneezing, coughing). It is therefore considered that close contact with a sick person is necessary to transmit the disease: same place of residence, direct contact within one meter when coughing, sneezing or talking, in the absence of protective measures.

A distinction must be made between :

* The indigenous case… (it concerns a person who develops the disease and for whom there is no notion of travel to a risk zone).

* The contact case… (it is transmitted by droplets emitted by a sick person, particularly during close contacts, at home, through intimate relations, on an airplane alongside a sick passenger…).

Symptoms may appear up to 14 days after this contact, most commonly fever and cough.

Most Frequently Asked Questions (source: Government)

I come back from a high-risk area, I’m asked to stay home, what can I do?

If you return from a high-risk area, teleworking is to be preferred for the 14 days following your return.
If you are placed in solitary confinement or if you are kept at home, social security has set up a derogatory system that allows you to benefit from 20 days off work with compensation, without waiting period.

Such a situation may arise if you are a contact or confirmed case, if you return from a risk area, or if you are a parent of children who have to be isolated. To be valid, the work stoppage must be signed by a doctor.

My children come back from a risk area, can they go to school?

If your children return from these destinations, they must not be sent to nursery, school, college or high school for 14 days after their return.

When do I have to wear a mask?

Wearing a surgical mask is recommended if you have been in China (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau), Singapore, South Korea, Iran or the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy for 14 days after your return. It is also recommended if you are ill, to avoid spreading the disease by air.

As with the seasonal flu episode, “barrier gestures” are effective… (wash your hands regularly, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, use disposable tissues and wear a mask in case of infection).

Can I take public transport?

There is no contraindication to travel by public transport. However, patients must wear a mask.

I live abroad, who should I call?

The Embassy and Consulate of your place of residence is at your disposal to answer all your questions. In addition, the Ministry regularly updates its travel advice website.

What measures are in place at the airport?

A specific welcome for travelers is set up at the airports for flights from China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, and South Korea. This reception is provided by staff from approved civil security associations, in liaison with the airport’s medical service reinforced with medical and paramedical professionals from the health reserve of the Ministry of Solidarity and Health.

The staff mobilized for this reception are available to answer travelers’ questions. Surgical masks and information documents are given to all passengers to inform them of what to do during the 14 days following their return from China, in order to ensure rapid detection of any new cases of Coronavirus COVID-19 on the territory. Australia has large stocks of surgical masks.

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