NSW Government - Coronavirus

Visit NSW Government - Coronavirus (COVID-19) for the latest advice and information for community and businesses, including information about COVID-19 symptoms, testing and physical distancing.

About COVID-19

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some coronaviruses cause illness in humans and others cause illness in animals, such as bats, camels, and civets. Human coronaviruses generally cause mild illness, such as the common cold.

Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve to infect and spread among humans, causing severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) which emerged in 2002, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which emerged in 2012.

What is the COVID-19 virus?

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. It was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, where it has caused a large and ongoing outbreak. It has been declared a global pandemic. The COVID-19 virus is closely related to a bat coronavirus.

There is much more to learn about how COVID-19 is spread, its severity, and other features associated with the virus; epidemiological and clinical investigations are ongoing.

Outbreaks of new coronavirus infections among people are always a public health concern. The situation is evolving rapidly.

How is the virus spread?

The virus can spread from person to person through:

  • close contact with an infectious person (including in the 48 hours before they had symptoms)
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face

COVID-19 is a new disease, so there is no existing immunity in our community. This means that COVID-19 could spread widely and quickly.

Most COVID-19 cases appear to be spread from people who have symptoms. A small number of people may have been infectious before their symptoms developed.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever (37.5 ° or higher)
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • loss of taste
  • loss of smell.

Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include fatigue, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting and loss of appetite.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.

You only need one symptom to get tested, and it can bemild.If you have a symptom, don’t delay, please get tested and self-isolate straight away.

The time between when a person is exposed to the virus and when symptoms first appear is typically 5 to 6 days, although may range from 2 to 14 days. For this reason, people who might have been in contact with a confirmed case are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

How long does the COVID-19 infection last?

The infection period for the virus will vary from person to person. Mild symptoms in an otherwise healthy individual may resolve over just a few days. For people who are likely to be at higher risk of serious illness if they are infected with the virus, recovery may take weeks and in severe cases could be potentially fatal.

How is COVID-19 diagnosed?

Infection with COVID-19 is diagnosed by finding evidence of the virus in respiratory samples such as swabs from the back of the nose and throat or fluid from the lungs. Samples for testing can be taken directly by GPs, some private pathology collection centres, at your local COVID-19 testing or drive through clinic, or at public hospitals across NSW. For people not able to attend any of these, a self collect test is available through Histopath.

Refer to COVID-19 clinics for locations of NSW Health COVID-19 clinics.

Is there a cure or vaccine?

There are no vaccines that protect against COVID-19 and there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Early diagnosis and general supportive care are important. Most of the time, symptoms will resolve on their own. People who have serious disease with complications can be cared for in hospital.

While researchers around the world are working hard to find an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, there is currently no evidence about effective treatment or vaccine.

What is a close contact?

A close contact is someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, as someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 when that person was infectious.

How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. See also information on how to protect yourself and others.

What is the difference between COVID-19 and the flu?

The first symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza (flu) infections are often very similar. They both cause fever and similar respiratory symptoms, which can then range from mild through to severe disease, and sometimes can be fatal.

Both viruses are also transmitted in the same way, by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with hands, surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus. As a result, the same public health measures, such as hand hygiene (hand washing), good respiratory etiquette (coughing into your elbow or into a tissue and immediately disposing of the tissue) wearing a mask where you cannot maintain 1.5m physical distance from others and good household cleaning are important actions to prevent both infections.

It appears with both viruses, it is possible for a person infected to spread the virus for up to two days before experiencing any symptoms. Typically a person develops symptoms one to four days after being infected with influenza but a person infected with COVID-19 typically develops symptoms five days after being infected, but symptoms can appear as early as two days after infection or as late as 14 days after infection.

While the range of symptoms for the two viruses is similar, the fraction with severe disease appears to be higher for COVID-19. While most people have mild symptoms, approximately 15% of people have severe infections and 5% require intensive care in a hospital ICU. The proportions of severe and critical COVID-19 infections are higher than for influenza infections.

Will the flu vaccine protect against COVID-19?

No, but it is more important than ever to get a flu vaccine this year. Flu vaccination reduces your chances of getting influenza, which means it also reduces the risk of you having two potentially serious infections, influenza and COVID-19, at the same time.

People are encouraged to discuss with their GP or other immunisation providers how to organise to get their influenza vaccination with the physical distancing requirements and other measures in place to minimise potential exposure to coronavirus. People not eligible for free flu vaccine can consider also get vaccinated through many pharmacies. Children under 5 years can also access the free influenza vaccine through community health centres and local councils that immunise children.

See the Seasonal influenza immunisation FAQs for more information.

Will the flu vaccine increase my risk of COVID-19?

There is no evidence the flu vaccine increases or decreases your risk of being infected with other coronaviruses that cause the common cold. There is no evidence yet directly linking flu vaccination with an increased risk of COVID-19. In contrast, the evidence showing the benefit of flu vaccination in reducing the burden of flu on individuals, the community and the health system is strong.

It is more important than ever to get the flu vaccine this year because:

  • flu is a serious respiratory illness even in healthy individuals and can be severe particularly in the elderly.
  • flu vaccination reduces the risk of two potentially serious infections, flu and COVID-19, occurring at the same time. This is important because:
  • Even in a normal year, seasonal flu places a large strain on limited health resources in Australia each winter
  • Any reduction in the number of people getting flu this year will mean there are more resources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the expected increase in patients with severe COVID-19 disease
  • Reducing the risk of getting flu and COVID-19 either together or one after the other has benefits for both the infected person and the health system

Protecting against COVID-19

What is the best way to prevent spread of the virus?

Some simple measures significantly reduce the risk of getting COVID-19 and of spreading it:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or use your elbow, not your hands
  • Avoid close contact with people unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms, and stay home if you have these symptoms.
  • Avoid touching your face and avoid shaking hands with others.
  • Maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from others as much as possible, and avoid crowded places.

Find more information on how to protect yourself and others.

Who is most at risk?

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting COVID-19 coronavirus infections are those who have:

  • recently returned from overseas
  • been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Based on what we know so far about COVID-19 and what we know about other coronaviruses, those who are likely to be at higher risk or serious illness if they are infected with the virus are:

  • people 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions
  • people with compromised immune systems (e.g. cancer)
  • people with diagnosed chronic medical conditions
  • People 70 years and older
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • There is limited evidence at this time regarding the risk in pregnant women.

Settings at higher risk of outbreaks of COVID-19 are:

  • people living in group residential settings
  • people in correction detention facilities

It is important to remember that even healthy young adults can have severe disease caused by COVID-19. COVID-19 can put you in hospital, no matter how old or young.

What is the risk to children?

Newborn babies and infants do not appear to be at increased risk of complications from the infection.

Most children and adolescents with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms and recover within one to two weeks. Preliminary evidence suggests that the spread of COVID-19 within schools is limited. Initial findings in NSW and overseas indicate low rates of disease in children and limited spread among children and from children to adults.

Please see guidance for maternity and neonates and schools, universities and childcare for further information.

What should I do if I am a close contact of a person with COVID-19?

A close contact is someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, as someone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 when that person was infectious.

If you are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection in Australia, you need to be isolated for 14 days after you last saw that person. Home isolation applies to all close contacts, even if you are well. It is important to onitor your health and report any symptoms as early as possible.

More information about home isolation for close contacts is available on:

What should I do if I am a casual contact of someone with COVID-19?

A casual contact is defined as someone who has had face-to-face contact for less than 15 minutes cumulative over the course of a week, or been in the same closed space for less than 2 hours, with a person with a COVID-19 infection while they were infectious. This may include healthcare workers, other patients, or visitors who were in the same closed healthcare space as a case, but for shorter periods than those required for a close contact. Other closed settings might include schools or offices.

If you are a casual contact, you do not need to self-isolate unless you have symptoms (although the close contact does). You should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after your last casual contact with the person with COVID-19. Find more information on casual contacts.

What should I do if I interact with someone who was identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case?

If you have been in contact with a person identified as a close contact of another person with confirmed COVID-19 infection, you do not need to self-isolate (although the close contact does) and don’t need take any other special precautions.

If a close contact develops symptoms and is confirmed as a COVID-19 case, public health authorities will determine who, if anyone, has been in close contact with them while they were infectious, and these people will be directed to self-isolate.

How do we know the people who have had COVID-19 are no longer infectious?

People with confirmed COVID-19 infection stay in isolation - either at home or at a health facility - under the supervision of health professionals. Their release from isolation will depend on whether they meet certain criteria, such as the duration of illness and presence or absence of symptoms. Refer to release from isolation for more information and the home isolation guidance.

I'm pregnant - what do I need to know?

See Guidance for pregnant women and new parents, which answers a number of frequently asked questions.

How can I protect my baby?

The NSW Government website has information on how to protect yourself and others.

Everyone in the family should have the seasonal influenza (flu) vaccination when it becomes available. Babies can have the seasonal influenza vaccine from 6 months of age - the vaccine is free for all children aged 6 months to less than 5 years of age. For more information, including a list of all groups eligible for free seasonal influenza vaccine, visit Seasonal influenza vaccination 2020.

Make sure vaccinations are up to date. Routine vaccination is the safest, most effective way to protect babies and children from illness.

If I have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 can I continue to breastfeed my baby?

Breastfeeding

Yes, you can continue to breastfeed or feed your baby expressed breastmilk.

The benefits of feeding your baby breastmilk outweigh any potential risk of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.

To avoid spreading the virus, wear a face mask when you are less than 1.5 metres from your baby (including while feeding), wash your hands before and after contact with your baby (including feeding), and avoid coughing or sneezing on the baby while feeding. Also clean/disinfect contaminated surfaces. Your health professional will talk with you about how long you need to continue these extra precautions.

If you are too ill to breastfeed, try to express milk for your baby. Consider whether someone who is well can feed the expressed breast milk to your baby by a bottle, cup or spoon, following appropriate infection prevention methods. You can discuss feeding options with your health professional.

Strict hygiene is needed when expressing breastmilk. If expressing breastmilk by hand or with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching her breast, the pump and bottle parts. Follow the recommendations from the manufacturer for pump cleaning after each use. The Raising Children Network provides guidance on Expressing and storing breastmilk including how to keep your expressing equipment clean.

The Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) has advice about COVID-19 and breastfeeding

The ABA runs the National Breastfeeding Helpline 1800 mum 2 mum (1800 686 268). The Breastfeeding Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Formula feeding

Yes, you can continue to formula feed your baby.

To avoid spreading the virus, wear a face mask when you are less than 1.5 metres from your baby (including feeding), wash your hands before and after contact with your baby (including feeding), and avoid coughing or sneezing on the baby while feeding. Also clean/disinfect contaminated surfaces. Your health professional will talk with you about how long you need to continue these extra precautions.

Strict hygiene is needed when handling feeding equipment. Follow the advice provided by the Raising Children Network on Bottle feeding: cleaning and sterilising equipment.

The UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative UK site has information about infant feeding during the COVID-19 outbreak.

I have recently travelled to Melbourne/Victoria, can I travel to NSW?

NSW has temporarily shut its border with Victoria to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the health and jobs of NSW citizens. People entering NSW from Victoria will need a NSW border entry permit. Your permit will indicate if you need to self-isolate for 14 days, get tested for COVID-19, abide by a COVID-19 Safety Plan, or any other conditions.

Special provisions have been made for:

Those working in high risk settings should be excluded from clinical areas for a period of 14 days from the date they returned from Melbourne/Victoria.

Preventing transmission

Do face masks protect against COVID-19? Which face masks?

NSW Health recommends wearing a face mask where it is hard to maintain physical distancing, such as on public transport, in supermarkets and shops, in places of worship, in indoor venues with a higher risk of transmission, and if working in cafes, restaurants pubs and clubs and other venues with a higher risk of transmission.

Wearing a mask in any of these settings is not mandatory but is highly recommended, especially in areas where there has been community transmission. For more information and instructions on how to make your own, see General guidance for cloth face masks.

People who have symptoms and might be infected with COVID-19 are required to stay in isolation at home and should wear a surgical face mask when in the same room as another person and when seeking medical advice to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to anyone else. For more information see Information on the use of surgical face masks.

Health care workers who are caring for patients with suspected COVID-19 should use appropriate personal protective equipment to protect themselves against COVID-19. For more information refer to Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) - Coronavirus COVID-19.

Is it safe for me to go to a hospital where a COVID-19 case is?

NSW Health works with its hospitals to maintain high infection control standards. NSW hospitals and clinicians are well trained in caring for people with infectious diseases, and in preventing their transmission to other patients. Staff also wear protective gear when cleaning to protect themselves and limit any spread of infection.

Can pets be infected with COVID-19?

While COVID-19 seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now mainly spreading from person-to-person. At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. Since animals can spread other diseases to people, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.

Can I sing in a group?

There is evidence to suggest that group singing (for example in a band, choir or karaoke) is a higher risk activity due to the increased chance of spreading COVID-19 through airborne aerosols.

For this reason, NSW Health recommends at this time that group singing be avoided. Consider having one singer rather than a group. Solo singers should stay at least 3 meters from the audience when singing.

Can I play my musical instrument in a group or orchestra?

NSW Health recommends at this time that playing wind instruments (such as flute, oboe or clarinet) in a group be avoided. This is because of the increased chance of spreading COVID-19 through airborne aerosols.

Musicians playing other instruments should stay 1.5 metres away from each other.

Can I sing at church, funerals or weddings?

Group singing or chanting in religious services, including choirs and during a service, is particularly high risk given the high risk of transmission associated with these activities and should not take place at this time. This applies to both the congregation and the choir.

If singing is a critical element in for example a religious service, wedding or funeral, it is recommended that the number of people singing is kept to one and a microphone is used to increase volume rather than projection of the voice.

This is particularly important at this time as NSW responds to a number of COVID outbreaks in NSW, including those in places of worship.

The Public Health Order, amended on 24 July 2020, requires high risk settings for transmission, including places of worship, to register themselves as COVID-Safe with the NSW Government, and to comply with a COVID-19 Safety Plan. This includes following guidelines around avoiding group singing or chanting. Read more at Industry guidelines for COVID Safe workplaces - Places of worship

Why is singing in schools permitted?

Singing and choral activities in schools is still permitted where this is required as part of the child’s curriculum.

In the school environment the same children are mixing together for long periods and the risk of transmission of COVID in children appears to be lower.

Can I go dancing?

If you’re attending a dance class, in the studio you should be able to take two steps in any direction without risk of collision – this is around 1.5m distance. If you can’t, it’s probably too crowded and you should bring this to the attention of your instructor.

Remember that nightclubs in NSW are currently closed as they are considered high-risk venues for transmission of COVID-19. Keep up to date with what is and isn’t allowed at What you can and can't do under the rules.

Can I dance at a wedding?

On 24 July new rules came into effect for weddings. Strict COVID-19 Safety plans must be in place and high-risk activities including group dancing must not occur. Only the wedding couple is permitted on a dancefloor. Information on COVID-19 Safety Plans for wedding ceremonies and receptions is available at Wedding ceremonies and receptions.

Can I dance at an organised function such as a birthday or christening?

Dancefloors are not permitted (except for the wedding couple at a wedding) at conferences, functions or corporate events. Read more at Conferences, functions, corporate events and Wedding ceremonies and receptions.

Dancing is also not recommended at places of worship at this time. For example, group liturgical dance should not occur. Read more Places of worship.

If it’s a party at home, please remember dancing together is a good way to spread COVID-19, so backyard discos and dance parties are not recommended.

Testing

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

NSW Health now recommends that anyone displaying any COVID-19 symptoms should be tested for COVID-19. You must self-isolate until you are advised of the result of your test in line with Home isolation guidance for people suspected to have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) infection

This is especially important for:

  • anyone who lives or works in a high risk setting, including healthcare facilities, aged care and other residential facilities, schools, prisons, and other closed settings
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people who are close contacts of a confirmed case or who have returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • anyone admitted to hospital
  • people who reside in areas for increased testing and surveillance (Note: these areas are updated weekly - see Areas for increased testing and surveillance).

Samples for testing can be taken directly by GPs, at your local COVID-19 testing or drive through clinic, at a range of private pathology sites across the state that are suitable for collection of COVID-19, or at public hospitals across NSW.

Refer to COVID-19 clinics for locations of NSW Health COVID-19 clinics

Should people with no symptoms get tested for COVID-19?

Testing of asymptomatic people (that is, people with no symptoms) is not recommended routinely. In certain high risk outbreak settings, PHU may consider testing asymptomatic contacts to inform management of the outbreak

Immunocompromised people who were confirmed cases, must have two PCR negative respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart at least 7 days after symptom onset, in addition to meeting the release from isolation criteria.

Is it safe to get tested for COVID-19?

Yes, it’s safe to get tested. All medical staff wear protective gear and there’ll be a safe place to wait.

Is COVID-19 testing painful?

Testing for COVID-19 can be uncomfortable but shouldn’t be painful.

What does a COVID-19 test actually test for?

Swabs are tested for COVID-19 and sometimes other viruses only. The COVID-19 swabs are not tested for drugs, cancer or anything else.

What does a negative COVID-19 test result mean?

A negative result means that COVID-19 is unlikely to be the cause of someone's current symptoms.

However, a negative test result in someone who is well does not guarantee that they have not been infected as it may still be early in their illness.

If you are in home isolation because you have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, a negative test result does not mean you can end your home isolation. You need to remain in home isolation for a total of 14 days after your last close contact with a COVID-19 case.

Do I need to get retested for COVID-19 if I get symptoms again but my first test result was negative?

A negative test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. However, that does not mean you will not get COVID-19. If you experience symptoms again, such as a fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat, change in taste or smell, stuffy nose or shortness of breath, get tested.

How will I receive my COVID-19 test results?

NSW Health Pathology has pioneered a solution to automatically deliver COVID-19 test results directly to patients via SMS (text message).

If you’ve been tested for COVID-19 at a NSW Health public hospital fever clinic, COVID-19 clinic or emergency department you can sign up for the new secure SMS service. Your local hospital health team will provide you with details on the simple steps to register.

Your sample will go to a specialist NSW Health Pathology COVID-19 laboratory for testing and typically takes between 24 – 72 hours.

Public healthcare professionals will continue to contact patients who test positive for COVID-19 as a priority.

If you had your COVID-19 test sample taken in the community by your GP or a private pathology provider, you will need to contact your doctor for your COVID-19 results.

For more information, contact NSW Health Pathology.

Do I need a medical certificate clearing me for work, school, university or other settings?

There is no particular value in requiring a medical certificates or pre-work testing for most people in the community.

People who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection, and people identified as close contacts who have completed their 14-day quarantine may be provided letters to confirms their isolation or quarantine period has finished.

If you do not have any symptoms, there is no test that can be done to predict whether or not you will become unwell.

What if I don’t have Medicare?

You don't need a Medicare card to get tested for COVID-19.

NSW Health will waive the costs associated with procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment and who are not eligible for Medicare.

If you test positive to COVID-19 and require treatment, NSW Health will also waive these costs. This includes waiving payment and debt recovery procedures for people seeking treatment at NSW Health facilities.

Is COVID-19 testing free?

Testing is free at public testing clinics, even if you’re from overseas. Testing is also free at private testing sites, however, as a referral is required, the General Practitioner (GP) may charge a fee for the initial consultation, and then again to receive the result from the GP.

Home isolation

Can I be exempted from quarantine requirements?

All travellers arriving in Australia from overseas are required to undertake their 14 days of quarantine in a designated quarantine facilities (for example, a hotel). Travellers will be transported directly to designated facilities after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks at the airport.

Exemptions are only considered where there are strong medical, health or compassionate grounds, or the person is transiting out of NSW to an international destination other than a Pacific Island country (in this instance, New Zealand is not considered a Pacific Island country). For more information, refer to Exemptions for air and maritime quarantine.

I have been told I'm a close contact of COVID-19 case? Do I need to self-isolate?

Yes. If you are sharing your home with others, you should stay in a different room from other people or be separated as much as possible. Wear a surgical mask when you are in the same room as another person, and when seeking medical care. Use a separate bathroom, if available.

Visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home should not visit while you are isolating.

You should monitor yourself for any new symptoms. Watch particularly for:

  • fever (37.5°C or higher)
  • cough
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing).

Other reported symptoms of COVID-19 include loss of smell, loss of taste, runny nose, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting and loss of appetite.

If you develop symptoms, you should seek help as soon as possible.

You have three main options:

  • Call the healthdirect hotline on 1800 022 222. When you call, tell them you are a close contact.
  • Call your local doctor to make an appointment, and tell them you are a close contact.
  • Visit your nearest COVID-19 clinic. When you arrive, immediately tell staff that you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

More information about home isolation is available for:

How can I access groceries and medicines while in home isolation?

If you need groceries or medicines (including prescription medicines), ask a family member or friend (who is not in isolation) to deliver them to your home or shop for groceries online. Some supermarkets are offering priority services for people in isolation. To prevent infecting other people, make sure you wear a surgical mask when receiving a delivery or have the groceries left at your door.

You can also receive essential Medicare funded health services in your home, and for most prescription medicines, your doctor can send your prescription directly to your preferred pharmacy. Your relative or friend can collect the medicine from the pharmacy on your behalf, or you may be eligible for free home delivery under the Home Medicines Service.

Do I need to be tested before leaving isolation?

If you remain well after 14 days, you do not require any tests before leaving isolation.

If you develop any respiratory symptoms or fever during isolation, contact your doctor or the local public health unit on 1300 066 055 to get assessed and tested for COVID-19.

Even if you test negative, you will still need to remain in isolation for the original 14 day isolation period.

When can people be released from self-isolation?

The criteria for being released from self-isolation vary depending on your circumstances. Read more about release from isolation.

Are you worried that you or someone you know may have or has COVID-19; or are anxious about being in isolation and would you like to speak to someone about it?

Contact one of the services below for support or talk to your general practitioner.

  • Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14 or Lifeline Australia
    A crisis support service that provides short term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 551800 or Kids Helpline
    A free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years.
  • NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511
    Mental health crisis telephone service in NSW.

Physical distancing

What is physical distancing?

Physical distancing means reducing the number of close physical and social contacts we have with one another.

Combining physical distancing with good personal hygiene slows the spread of a pandemic. This helps protect the most vulnerable members of the community and reduces the impact of the pandemic on essential, life-saving health services.

Physical distancing includes:

  • not shaking hands, hugging or kissing as a greeting.
  • keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and other people, where possible.
  • avoiding visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment.
  • using debit and credit cards instead of cash and make use of online and self-serve transactions (for example Opal cards on public transport).
  • taking public transport in off-peak periods if you can.

For more information about physical distancing, refer to NSW Government - Physical distancing.

Who should practice physical distancing?

Everyone should practice physical distancing, as it reduces the potential for transmission.

For more information about physical distancing, refer to NSW Government - Physical distancing.

Can I swim in ocean pools and baths?

Ocean pools and baths are filled with untreated sea water, which is changed periodically.

The risk of contracting COVID-19 through swimming in ocean pools/baths is considered low. The COVID-19 virus is unlikely to survive for long periods in salt water.

People using ocean baths should:

  • stay at home if sick
  • stay at home if you have been asked by health authorities to self-isolate
  • do not swim if you have had diarrhoea
  • shower with soap before swimming
  • minimise time spent out of the pool
  • comply with physical distancing (try to keep 1.5 metres from other people as much as possible)
  • comply with protective measures when in the change rooms and outside the pool (clean your hands, cover coughs and sneezes)
  • follow the usual health advice to avoiding swimming for least 1 day after rain
  • try to attend when the pool is less busy.

Operators should clean facilities and surrounds regularly.

Where can I find more information?

Page Updated: Sunday 9 August 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW