Should I wear a face mask to protect myself from novel coronavirus?

Face masks are recommended for people who are at risk of coronavirus infection (have been in or transited through mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) in the last 14 days or been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus), and have symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat and/or shortness of breath. This is to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to anyone else.

Face masks are not necessary for the general population.

Should I keep my kids home from school because of coronavirus?

If your kids have been in, or transited through, mainland China in the last 14 days, you should keep your kids home from school or child care services for 14 days from the date they left mainland China. Kids who have returned to Australia from mainland China more than 14 days ago and have no symptoms are able to return to school.

Kids should also be kept at home if they have been in close contact with a person who tested positive for coronavirus. As long as they have no symptoms, they can return to school or childcare once 14 days have passed since their last contact with the infected person.

My plane transited through Hong Kong – do I need to be worried?

No, not unless you also visited mainland China in the last 14 days.

I’ve been to mainland China recently - do I need to be isolated? 

If you have been to mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) in the last 14 days you should isolate yourself from other people. This means restricting activities outside your home/hotel, except for seeking medical care. You should not go to work, school, university or public areas, and you should not use public transport, taxis or ride-sharing services.

If you are still completely well 14 days after you left China, then you did not get coronavirus from your time in China and you are free to go about your usual activities.

Can you get the novel coronavirus from an imported package of food?

No, the novel coronavirus does not last very long on surfaces, therefore imported products do not pose a risk of transmission of this virus.

Will garlic and sesame oil stop me from contracting novel coronavirus?

No. The best way to protect yourself against coronavirus, and other respiratory infections, is to practice good hygiene by:

  • making sure to regularly clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • make sure you stay home if you are sick.

Has the novel coronavirus mutated into a more lethal strain ?

No, there is no evidence that the virus has mutated into a more lethal strain.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Symptoms range from fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath

Unless you have been in or transited through mainland China in the last 14 days, or been in contact with someone who has been confirmed as having coronavirus, there is minimal risk of you being infected.

How can I protect myself against coronavirus?

The best way to protect yourself against coronavirus, and other respiratory infections, is to practice good hygiene by:

  • making sure to regularly clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • make sure you stay home if you are sick.

For travellers, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends measures to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections while travelling in or from affected areas by:

  • avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections
  • frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment
  • avoiding close contact with live or dead farm or wild animals
  • people with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (keep away from other people, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds).

Travellers to China should not visit live bird and animal markets, including ‘wet’ markets.

Am I at risk of coronavirus?

Person to person spread of coronaviruses generally occurs between people who are close contacts with one another. 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, with a person that was infectious. Close contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus are being closely monitored by public health units for the development of any symptoms.

If you have not been in contact with a person confirmed as having coronavirus, there is minimal risk of you being infected.

The best way to protect yourself against coronavirus, and other respiratory infections, is to practice good hygiene by:

  • making sure to regularly clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • make sure you stay home if you are sick.

How do I get tested for coronavirus?

Testing can be carried out by your GP or at an emergency department.

If you have been in or transited through mainland China (excluding Hong Kong , Macau and Taiwan) in the last 14 days and develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, contact your GP or your nearest emergency department. It is important to phone ahead so that the practice or emergency department can make appropriate preparations and protect others.

Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?

No. There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infections.

Who can I call if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

If you develop a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath within 14 days of travel to or transit through mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), seek medical attention as soon as possible by calling:

  • your GP
  • nearest emergency department
  • healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

It is important to phone ahead so that the practice or emergency department can make appropriate preparations and protect others.

Should I avoid Chinatown/shopping centres/suburbs with high Chinese-Australian populations ?

No, you do not need to avoid such areas. People who have not been in mainland China in the past 14 days are not at risk of coronavirus infection. People who have been in or transited through mainland China in the past 14 days have been asked to isolate themselves at home and not attend public places.

You should avoid socialising with any person who was been in or transited through mainland China for 14 days from when they departed. This includes not visiting people who are in home isolation unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.

Can I catch novel coronavirus from my pet?

There is currently no evidence of transmission of the virus between humans and domestic pets, however it is advisable to not handle pets or other animals if you are sick.

Get more info

Find latest updates, fact sheets and other resources at Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

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Page Updated: Monday 10 February 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW