Coronavirus facts

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2020 4:39pm

Last update: 08 Apr 2020 9:34am

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.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a new strain of coronavirus that is causing disease in humans and spreading from person-to-person. The name of the disease is COVID-19.

What we know about COVID-19

The current COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly. We are still learning about how this new virus spreads and the disease it causes. We know:

  • the virus causes respiratory disease that can spread from person to person
  • most people experience mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath
  • some people experience severe illness and, sadly, a small proportion die
  • older people and people with underlying medical conditions seem to be more at risk of severe illness
  • there is no treatment for COVID-19, but medical care can treat most of the symptoms – antibiotics do not work on viruses
  • a vaccine is currently not available.

How it spreads

The virus most likely spreads through:

  • close contact with an infectious person
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s uncovered cough or sneeze (if you are within 1.5 metres or two large steps of an infected person)
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs, sink taps and tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

What are the symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly.

People with coronavirus may experience:

  • fever
  • symptoms such as coughing, a sore throat and fatigue
  • shortness of breath

People with severe illness may have difficulty breathing, which is a sign of pneumonia and requires immediate medical attention.

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show after a person has been infected.

You can check your symptoms using the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool.

Who is most at risk

At the moment it seems the elderly, people with weakened immune systems, and people with serious underlying health conditions, like diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, cancer or kidney failure, may be at higher risk of severe illness.

Last update: 31 Mar 2020 5:24pm

The Department of Health is working closely with national health authorities and local health services, including hospitals and GPs, to prepare for more cases and identify and appropriately manage potential cases quickly. We are being guided by the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus, national guidelines that are being reviewed daily, and extensive pandemic planning undertaken over recent years.

Public Health Emergency Declaration

The Director of Public Health has declared a Public Health Emergency for Tasmania to help manage the threat of COVID-19.

This declaration provides the Director with emergency powers to implement public health measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Tasmania.

You can read the Directions made under the Public Health Act 1997 on the Resources page.

State of Emergency Declaration

The Tasmanian Government has declared a State of Emergency for Tasmania in response to COVID-19.

The State Control Centre has been activated, meaning the whole-of-government response to COVID-19 is being led by the State Controller – Commissioner of Police, Darren Hine – in close liaison with the Director of Public Health, Mark Veitch.

You can read the Directions made under the Emergency Management Act on the Resources page.

Last update: 31 Mar 2020 9:49am

General information

About coronavirus and the national response

For the latest information about coronavirus go to the Australian Government Department of Health website.

About the Tasmanian situation

You can follow the Department of Health on Facebook for updates.

About the global situation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) website provides up-to-date advice and facts about the situation globally.

Health information

Symptom checker

If you are experiencing symptoms that worry you, use healthdirect's online Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker for advice on what to do next.

National Coronavirus Helpline

For general information about coronavirus, or if you are experiencing symptoms, call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 (24 hours, 7 days) for advice on what to do next. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

healthdirect website and app

Information and advice provided by the National Coronavirus Helpline is also available on the healthdirect website and via the healthdirect mobile app.

Tasmanian Public Health Hotline

If you think you might have COVID-19 because you feel unwell with a fever OR cough, sore throat or shortness of breath AND have recently travelled internationally or interstate OR had contact with a confirmed case, phone your GP or the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 straight away. Tell them about your symptoms and recent travel.

Stay Healthy Stay Connected Facebook page

For tips on how to stay healthy and stay connected while you are staying at home, visit and follow the Stay Healthy Stay Connected Facebook page.

Stay informed

Download the Federal Government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join the WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.

Last update: 10 Apr 2020 5:35pm

Self-isolation and testing of staff at the North West Regional Hospital (NWRH)

Published: 10 April 2020

Self-isolation and testing requirements have been announced for medical and surgical ward staff at the North West Regional Hospital. There will be no new admissions to the medical, surgical or paediatric wards - patients east of Penguin will be transferred to the Launceston General Hospital.

Further information will be published when available.

Emergency Alert

Published: 9 April 2020

You may receive a text message or voice message from the Tasmanian Government regarding COVID-19 and the current rules affecting Tasmanians.

Emergency Alert is one way of sending important information to the public and will not be used in all circumstances. Emergency Alert relies on telecommunications networks to send messages, and message delivery cannot be guaranteed.

What will the warning message say?

The warning message will provide information on the current situation, what action to take and where to find further information.

For further information about Emergency Alert visit: http://www.emergencyalert.gov.au/

Need to go shopping? This is what you should know.

Published: 8 April 2020

See our Advice for shoppers for tips before you go shopping, and for when you are in a store, to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19.

Remember:

  • don’t go to the shops if you are unwell
  • only shop for essentials
  • wash and dry your hands before and after shopping
  • keep at least 1.5 metres from other people whenever possible
  • be kind to staff and other shoppers

See all the tips in Advice for shoppers.

Parents and learner drivers

Published: 8 April 2020

Parents can continue to supervise their learner driver family members.

Learner driving is considered a learning activity. If you are supervising a learner driver, you must adhere to the rules, only drive within your municipality, and only stop if you are getting essential supplies. If you do not have an essential reason to stop anywhere, you should not exit the vehicle while out and about.

See the media release for more information.

Hospital and aged care facility visitation restrictions

Published: 8 April 2020

From noon on Tuesday 7 April, visitation restrictions will be in place for hospitals and residential aged care facilities to ensure the safety of patients and residents.

No patient visits will be permitted to hospitals, except for a support person due to the birth of a child, a parent, carer or guardian for an ill child or dependent person, or for end of life support for patients. Visitors to patients must be well and comply with strict screening requirements.

There will only be visits to aged care residents for end of life support and essential visits by doctors and medical staff. Residents will not be permitted to leave an aged care facility unless it’s for essential medical requirements as arranged by facility management.

See the media release for more information.

Changes over Easter

Published: 7 April 2020

Easter in Tasmania will be different this year. The current restrictions that are necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19 mean that many of the activities that we traditionally enjoy over the Easter break will not be possible. But this doesn’t mean we can’t still have fun, responsibly!

We can keep our communities safe and enjoy the Easter break by following these simple measures:

  • Keep it local
  • Keep it to one or two
  • Keep it connected

Find out more on Changes over Easter.

Restrictions on recreational boaters this holiday period

Updated: 6 April 2020

Restrictions on where recreational boaters may launch from will be in place this holiday period.

If you own a boat you will be restricted to launching within the municipality within which your primary residential address is listed for the purposes of the stay at home restrictions.

These restrictions will be in place from Wednesday 8 April until Monday 27 April 2020 and will be reviewed to determine if an extension is required.

You will not be able to take your boat to a coastal community to launch that boat if it is outside of the municipality in which your primary residence is in.

See more on boating.

Flights to Tasmania with confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Published: 5 April 2020

The following flights into Tasmania carried passengers with confirmed cases of COVID-19:

FlightAirlineOrigin/DestinationDate
JQ727 Jetstar Sydney/Hobart 8/03/2020

JQ731

Jetstar

Melbourne/Launceston

9/03/2020

QF1013

Qantas

Melbourne/Hobart

10/03/2020

VA1530

Virgin

Sydney/Hobart

15/03/2020

QF1013

Qantas

Melbourne/Hobart

18/03/2020

JQ723

Jetstar

Sydney/Hobart

19/03/2020

JQ745

Jetstar

Sydney/Launceston

19/03/2020

VA1092

Virgin

Sydney/Launceston

19/03/2020

VA1328

Virgin

Melbourne/Hobart

19/03/2020

JQ745

Jetstar

Sydney/Launceston

19/03/2020

VA1380

Virgin

Melbourne/Launceston

19/03/2020

EY6675

Etihad

Melbourne/Launceston

19/03/2020

QF1587

Qantas

Sydney/Hobart

19/03/2020

JQ749

Jetstar

Sydney/Launceston

20/03/2020

QF1013

Qantas

Melbourne/Hobart

21/03/2020

JQ723

Jetstar

Sydney/Hobart

21/03/2020

JQ703

Jetstar

Melbourne/Hobart

22/03/2020

VA1380

Virgin

Melbourne/Launceston

22/03/2020

QF2051

Qantas

Melbourne/Devonport

24/03/2020

If you were on one of these flights and are experiencing symptoms, contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 or call your GP.

If you were on one of these flights and you do not currently have symptoms, please watch for symptoms for 14 days from the date of your flight.

If you experience symptoms in this time, contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 or call your GP.

Legislative Council Elections to be deferred

Published: 5 April 2020

The Tasmanian 2020 Legislative Council Elections for the divisions of Huon and Rosevears will be deferred in a further measure to protect Tasmanians against the spread of coronavirus.

The Constitution Act 1934 provides that the poll must be held on a Saturday in the month of May. Currently they are to be held on Saturday, 30 May.

A Notice will be issued under section 13(1) of the COVID-19 Disease Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, for the election to now occur before the next sitting of the Legislative Council, slated for 25 August 2020.

Should public health circumstances require a further deferral of the election, then a further Notice would need to be considered.

Tasmanian Government schools - Term 2 details

Published: 3 April 2020

Tasmanian Government school students will finish for the Easter break on Friday 3 April.

Teachers will stay at school between 6-9 April to undertake professional learning and prepare at-home learning materials for Term 2.

Term 2 will now commence on Tuesday 28th April for students. Monday 27th April will be a student-free teacher preparation day for school staff to allow them to adapt their planning to whatever the current COVID 19 situation may be at that time.

The intention for Term 2 is for students to continue to learn at home where possible, with teachers leading this learning.

Each week, teachers will provide an overview to parents of what the student’s days should entail and will provide activities to support their learning. These activities will align with the current Australian Curriculum and may be online, offline or a combination of both. Teachers will be in regular contact with students.

Government schools will still remain open for those students who are unable to be supported/supervised at home.

This situation will be regularly reviewed based on Public Health advice and updates.

See this media release for more information.

Locations visited by confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Published: 1 April 2020

Two people who travelled in Tasmania on a tour from 12 to 23 March 2020 have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

One was likely to have been infectious with COVID-19 from 12 March. The other from 19 March.

Anyone who was at the locations on the dates listed below and who developed or develops symptoms in the 14 days after they were there should contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738:

  • Travelodge Hotel Hobart (city) (12-19 March)
  • Gray Line tour bus from Hobart to Port Arthur (morning of 13 March)
  • Port Arthur Historic Site and visitor centre (13 March)
  • Carnarvon Bay ‘Navigators’ boat tour (afternoon of 13 March)
  • Female Factory Site, South Hobart (morning of 14 March)
  • Cascade Gardens, South Hobart (morning of 14 March)
  • MONA ferry from Hobart (1.15pm, 14 March)
  • MONA (1.30 to 4pm, 14 March)
  • Peppermint Bay Cruise and Restaurant (15 March)
  • Freycinet Marine Farm (16 March)
  • Kate’s Berry Farm (16 March)
  • Pennicott Cruises on Bruny Island (17 March)
  • Female Factory, South Hobart (18 March)
  • Grape Food and Wine Bar, Salamanca (18 March)
  • Launceston Leisure Inn (19-23 March)
  • Bridestowe Lavender Farm (20 March)
  • Pyengana Cheese Factory (20 March)
  • Lease 65, St Helens (20 March)
  • Batman Bridge River Cruise, run by Tamar River Cruises (21 March)
  • Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre and Waldheim Chalet (22 March)
  • Ashgrove Tasmanian Farm (22 March)

Public Health Services have contacted these tourism and hospitality businesses following advice from an interstate health department.

Neither person was aware they had COVID-19 while they were in Tasmania and did not present for either medical care or testing. They were only diagnosed after they returned to their home state.

Public Health Services is working with the tour operator to obtain more specific details about transport taken by the persons while in Tasmania and will provide this additional information as soon as it is available.

Public Health Services is also sharing this information with communicable disease agencies interstate because it is expected that most close contacts of these cases will be interstate residents.