To avoid infection and prevent the spread of COVID-19, staff at early childhood education and care services should:

  • practice good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene
  • stay home if they have travelled overseas or are unwell.​
Last updated: 16 March 2020

What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

COVID-19 is a new viral respiratory illness that was first reported in mainland China. Cases have since been reported in many countries overseas and within Australia.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases.

How is it spread?

The virus can be spread from person to person from infected people through coughing, sneezing or by germs on hands.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose. People may also develop more severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia (chest infection) and shortness of breath.

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to develop after exposure. 

Most healthy people will experience mild symptoms and recover over a few days. Others, especially those with ongoing health issues, may experience severe illness.

Who is at risk?

  • People who have travelled overseas.
  • People who have been in close contact with other confirmed cases are at greatest risk of catching the disease.
  • The elderly and people with ongoing medical conditions (such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, or supressed immunity) are at particular risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
  • Children are at the same risk of contracting COVID-19 as adults. Children are more likely to have a milder illness, and some may not have any symptoms.

It is important that you monitor yourself for symptoms and arrange testing if you develop symptoms after travel or after close contact with a confirmed case.

This is especially important to help prevent spread in your workplace and community. 

How can I help prevent the spread of coronavirus? 

Practice good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene. Support the children at your service to:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand rub is a suitable alternative if used and stored safely around children.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow and dispose of used tissues in a lined bin.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Should I stay home if I have travelled overseas?

Yes. If you have recently travelled overseas you should stay isolated at home for 14 days after you return. If you develop flu-like symptoms, you should call your doctor to arrange testing or go directly to a COVID-19 clinic or emergency department.

Should I stay home if am unwell?

Yes. If you develop any flu-like symptoms or other illnesses, stay home until you are well. This will ensure that you do not spread infections to children and staff in your early childhood education and care service. Notify the service and see your doctor.

How can I reduce the impact of influenza this winter?

Ensure you receive the 2020 seasonal influenza vaccine to protect yourself against influenza and help reduce the severity and spread of influenza this winter.

Further information

COVID-19 - Frequently asked questions

Current as at: Monday 16 March 2020
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW