Coronavirus facts

Last update: 17 Aug 2020 9:33am

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 does it spread?

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.

For more information go to Testing for COVID-19.

Who is most at risk?

The following people are at higher risk of serious illness:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 65 years and older, with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people 70 years and older
  • people with a weakened immune system.

Chronic medical conditions include diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, cancer and kidney failure.

To minimise your risk, it is important to follow advice about preventing the spread, cleaning and physical distancing.

What is the treatment for COVID-19?

Around the world, no medication has been found to safely and effectively treat COVID-19. Antibiotics do not work on viruses.

In Australia, no drugs have been approved for treating COVID-19.

There is a huge amount of global effort going in to finding a safe treatment as quickly as possible.

Some medicines are being investigated through clinical trials, to see how well they work and if they are safe. There are 90 countries, including Australia, working together with World Health Organization to find an effective treatment for COVID-19.

While there is no proven treatment for COVID-19, medical care can treat most of the symptoms.

Many people who get COVID-19 have relatively mild symptoms. Most recover over a week or two at home without treatment.

Why is it taking so long to make a vaccine?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine.

Existing vaccines do not protect against the virus that causes COVID-19.

The World Health Organization is coordinating global effort to create a vaccine against COVID-19. Researchers are working as hard as they can on this.

It takes time to develop a vaccine from scratch. First it needs to be created, then researchers need to check it is safe to use. If it is safe, it needs to be manufactured and distributed on a large scale.

While we wait for a vaccine to be readily available, it’s important we all follow the rules to slow the spread of COVID-19. Stay home as much as possible, wash your hands well and often, and always cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.

Why not test people who don't have symptoms?

Testing people for COVID-19 is important to stop the spread of the disease in the community. Testing identifies people who have the virus, and isolating those people stops them passing it on.

To be most effective, the focus of testing in Australia – especially in areas where the virus is not spreading in the community – is on people who have any cold or flu-like symptoms, even mild. When COVID-19 is not spreading in the community, testing people without symptoms is not an efficient or effective way to find rare cases.

The main reason for targeting people with symptoms is that they are more likely to have COVID-19 than people without symptoms. People with symptoms are also more likely to pass the virus on to other people than those who don’t.

Sometimes testing is recommended for people who don’t have symptoms. For example, if there is an outbreak, people who may be at risk in the same setting or community (including healthcare workers and aged care workers) may be targeted for testing, along with contacts of confirmed cases.

Tasmania’s approach to testing people for COVID-19 is like the approach used interstate and is based on recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. That Committee is made up of Chief Health Officers from around Australia and is the main national expert committee advising on COVID-19 in Australia. That committee itself is advised by groups of national experts on communicable disease control and laboratory testing.

Last update: 22 Sep 2020 12:29pm

Seasonal workers information

Published 18 September 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced that eligible agricultural (seasonal) workers from non-affected regions will be permitted to enter Tasmania to assist with the upcoming planting, production and harvest seasons from Monday 21 September.

As seasonal workers will likely be working and living closely together, additional conditions will be in place for approved applicants, for more information about these restrictions visit Conditions for Essential Travellers.

For more information visit Information for Seasonal Workers.

Changes to outdoor gathering limits

Published 18 September 2020

Outdoor gatherings of up to 1000 people will be permitted from Friday 25 September.

The change to outdoor gathering numbers is based on Public Health advice which recognises that the COVID-19 risk is stabilising across Australia, as well as the lower risk of outdoor events, compared to indoor events.

Maximum density limits of two square metres of space per person will continue to apply for all outdoor and indoor gatherings. Indoor gathering limits remain at 250 people.

WorkSafe Tasmania is developing a template to help event organisers create COVID-19 Safety Plan for their events.

This practical tool will support organisers of all types of events; and will help them consider changes to the COVID-19 risk in Tasmania over time. Venue owners and operators are also required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place.

Event organisers should also include in their planning for the possibility that their event may need to be postponed or cancelled if the COVID-19 situation in Tasmania (or other parts of Australia) changes.

For more information see Gatherings, density and physical distancing.

Changes to FIFO worker quarantine requirements

Published 18 September 2020

Tasmanian fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers who work interstate in low-risk areas for an extended period of at least seven days can apply for Essential Traveller status from Monday 21 September 2020.

Eligible FIFO workers will be required to apply as an Essential Traveller under Category 8 of the Schedule of Specified Persons through G2G PASS.

Applicants will need to provide evidence that they meet the definition of a FIFO under the Direction. FIFO workers will also need to comply with existing Public Health Directions while in Tasmania, including monitoring themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking testing if symptomatic.

Public Health Services has advised that this group of workers poses a low transmission risk as they have not spent time in an Affected Region or Affected Premises, particularly if they work in a remote setting (e.g. regional Western Australia).

This change in policy also recognises the significant and ongoing health and wellbeing impacts of repeated periods of quarantine, which FIFO workers have been exposed to since border restrictions started in March 2020.

Tasmanian FIFO workers who are currently in home quarantine and believe they are eligible to end their quarantine from 21 September 2020 under this change can email Anyone not currently in quarantine needs to reapply or apply under Category 8.

For more information visit Information for FIFO workers.

Business Growth Loan Scheme now open

Published 15 September 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced a $60 million Business Growth Loan Scheme.

The scheme provides businesses with concessional loan funding to adapt and transition to sustainable post-COVID operating models.

Loans from $20,000 to $3 million are available for eligible businesses and new projects. The scheme is open for 12 months or until all funding has been fully allocated, whichever occurs first.

For more information visit the Business Tasmania website or call 1800 440 026.

Changes to gym requirements

Published 11 September 2020

Staffing requirements for gyms and other sport and recreation facilities will change from 12.01pm Thursday 17 September 2020.

Public Health Services has determined that premises used for sports, recreation, physical activity and wellness, including gyms, will not be required to be staffed at all times while they are open.

Gyms are still required to meet current COVID safety standards. As an added public health measure, Worksafe Tasmania will conduct compliance inspections to ensure businesses are adhering to public health requirements.

For more information visit WorkSafe Tasmania.

Queensland Local Government Areas removed from Affected Regions list

Published 11 September 2020

Three Queensland local government areas (LGA's) – City of Brisbane, City of Ipswich and Logan City – are no longer classified as Affected Regions under Tasmania’s Border Policy.

The LGA's are no longer classified as Affected Regions because the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from these areas has now reduced.

This means Tasmanian residents who are currently in government-designated quarantine due to being in one of the LGA's in the 14 days prior to their arrival will be able to complete the remaining part of their 14-day quarantine period at home.

Any person who has been in Government-designated quarantine is able to apply for their fee to be waived or reduced if they meet specific criteria. Only those who arrived between 27 August and midnight 3 September 2020 will have their fee automatically waived.

More information is available at Coming to Tasmania.

Small Business Continuity Grant Round 2

Published 8 September 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced a further $2 million to help small businesses plan for recovery from the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

The second round of the COVID-19 Small Business Continuity Grant program will provide $750 each to eligible businesses to engage a qualified specialist to advise on business continuity planning.

Applications will be assessed on applicant and project expenditure eligibility, and evidence provided in support of the application.

The program closes at 12 noon on Friday 2 October 2020 or when the funding has been fully allocated, whichever occurs first.

For more information and to apply visit Business Tasmania website or call 1800 440 026.

Seasonal worker opportunities for Tasmanians

Published 4 September 2020

The agricultural industry is recruiting to ensure it has the appropriate workforce needed to harvest produce. Tasmanians are encouraged to apply for work to help with the upcoming planting, production and harvest seasons.

To find out more or to register visit the DPIPWE website.

Update to COVID-19 Rent Relief for tenants and landlords

Published 4 September 2020

The Tasmanian Government is providing rent relief for residential households who rent homes in the private market and who are experiencing housing stress because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund was established in May 2020 to assist tenants suffering from extreme hardship, with support of up to $2,000 or four weeks rent available.

Tenants who have already received financial help to pay their rent can apply for a second rental extra support payment if their circumstances have not changed.

A new Landlord Support fund has also been established for landlords suffering from financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.

The Support Funds are available until 1 December 2020.

For more information, including how to apply, go to the Communities Tasmania website.

School celebrations and social events

Published 4 September 2020

The Department of Education and Public Health has developed some clear guidance to allow celebrations and social events (including school formals) to occur on school sites.

These events will be able to go ahead but will need to be held in accordance with current Public Health directions. This means that it will be required that these events are undertaken within the venue density requirements (one person per 2 square metres, up to a maximum of 250 people) of the site on which they are planned to be held.

Dancing will be able to occur as part of such events, however for this to happen the dancing must be in a different area to that which food and beverages are served. These areas will need to be clearly identified in the venue.

COVID safe behaviours including hygiene measures and visitor screening will need to be applied to such events.

Celebrations taking place off site will need to comply with the venue’s COVID Safety plan.

For more information on COVID and schools please visit the Department of Education.

State of Emergency extended

Published 28 August 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced the extension of the State of Emergency until 26 October 2020 to protect against the threat of a COVID-19 emergency occurring in Tasmania.

Health screening and temperature checks of all arrivals from Monday 31 August

Updated 28 August 2020

All travellers arriving in Tasmania from Monday 31 August will be required to answer health symptom questions and have a temperature check as part of COVID-19 screening measures.

Part of the questioning process can be completed online in the one hour before travelling, to ensure a quicker passage through the port of arrival. Travellers will receive a text message prior to departure with a link to the online form.

Travellers who haven’t done the questionnaire when they arrive will receive help to complete it at the port.

Anyone with symptoms will be encouraged to have a COVID-19 test and directed to quarantine at their original destination – their home, accommodation or government-designated accommodation - while waiting for their result.

Current screening and testing requirements for Essential Travellers remain in place.

Update on dancing restrictions

Published 28 August 2020

Restrictions remain in place for dancing in all venues where food and alcohol is consumed because of the increased risk of close contact, particularly where alcohol is consumed, and difficulty of tracing contact among patrons. This restriction will be in place at least until the end of 2020.

Dancing will only be permitted when it is pre-arranged, held in a separate room to where food and alcohol is consumed and contact information is recorded. For example, the following could occur:

  • a pre-arranged dance class in a separate room of a pub;
  • dance classes or dancing in a community hall; and
  • water, tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks could be consumed in the same room as a dance class or dancing.

The only other exception is dancing at a wedding reception. The wedding couple, their parents/guardians and other bridal party members can dance.

The management of risk associated with these activities must also be covered in a venue’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.

If someone hires a venue, such as a community hall, they share with the venue owner/operator the responsibility for managing dance and other activities, including physical distancing and facilitating a safe entry and exit to the premises.

Changes to standing activities in licensed premises

Published 27 August 2020

Business restrictions are changing from 28 August 2020 to allow standing activities – like darts, pool, eight-ball, snooker and karaoke – in licensed venues.

People attending an event in a licensed venue can move around freely, as long as they are not standing and drinking alcohol. For example, at a function or a networking event, people can stand and mingle, but they must to be seated while drinking alcohol.

Restrictions remain in place for dancing in all venues where food and alcohol is consumed because of the increased risk of close contact, particularly where alcohol is consumed, and difficulty of tracing contact among patrons. This restriction will be in place at least until the end of 2020.

See Current restrictions and Business restrictions for more information, including how these changes apply to specific settings.

Returning Tasmanians from Queensland Affected Regions or Premises

Published 27 August 2020

Tasmanians who return to the State from newly declared Affected Regions and Premises in Queensland will not be charged for government-designated quarantine accommodation if they arrive before midnight 3 September 2020.

Three Queensland local government areas have been identified as Affected Regions by Public Health Services - City of Brisbane, City of Ipswich and Logan City - and anyone who has spent time in these locations in the 14 days before they arrive in Tasmania is required to quarantine for 14 days in government-designated accommodation at their own expense. Read more about Coming to Tasmania.

The decision to waive the quarantine fee means Tasmanians who travel home in the next week will not be impacted by the charge.

Pandemic leave disaster payment now available for Tasmanians

Published 26 August 2020

The Australian Government has extended Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment arrangements to include Tasmania.

Tasmanian workers are now eligible for a $1,500 lump sum payment if they cannot work because they need to self-isolate or quarantine and applies.

If an individual is instructed by a health official to stay home from work, and has used up all their sick leave entitlements, including any special pandemic leave, they may be eligible to make a claim. People may also be eligible if they’re the parent or guardian of a child aged 16 or under who is a close contact or has tested positive for COVID-19.

Tasmanian workers are eligible for the payment if they are not receiving income, earnings or salary maintenance from work, receiving the JobKeeper Payment or other forms of Australian Government income support. The payment can be claimed again should an extended quarantine period longer than 14 days be instructed by health officials.

The Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment applies from 22 August 2020. To make a claim call 180 22 66. Further information is available at

Submissions extended to the Independent Review of the Response to the North West Tasmania COVID-19 outbreak

Published 21 August 2020

The closing date for submissions to the Independent Review of the Response to the North-West Tasmania COVID-19 outbreak has been extended to 5pm, Tuesday 1 September 2020.

Written submissions can be submitted by email or post to:


Post: Independent Review North-West Tasmania, GPO Box 123, Hobart, TAS 7001

More information, together with the Terms of Reference for the Independent Review can be found on the Department of Premier and Cabinet website.

Mersey Community Hospital Emergency Department

Published 20 August 2020

From Monday 24 August, the Mersey Community Hospital emergency department will be open daily from 8am to 6pm.

Patients who need emergency care outside these hours will be redirected to other hospitals, including the North West Regional Hospital and Launceston General Hospital.

Ambulance Tasmania will continue to transport people in need of emergency hospitalisation to the hospital that is best able to provide the service that patient needs.

Tasmanian border update

Published 18 August 2020

The Premier has announced that border restrictions will remain in place until 1 December 2020.

The restrictions will be regularly reviewed and if public health advice supports it then some border restrictions may be lifted before then.

Extension of the Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants

Published 7 August 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced the extension of the Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants.

The grants are being extended from 8 August 2020 to cover casuals and low-income workers who are unable to work while awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

A one-off payment is available to those eligible ($250 per adult, $125 per child, with a maximum of $1,000 per household).

Applications can be made through the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline 1800 671 738.

Testing locations for COVID-19

Updated 21 July 2020

Testing sites are available across Tasmania. Some sites do not require bookings and offer drive-up testing.

Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics



Booking required - call Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

On premises testing

Best option for high-risk people including:

  • healthcare, aged care and residential care workers or staff with direct patient contact
  • people who travelled outside Tasmania or had close contact with a confirmed case within 14 days of developing symptoms
  • people in quarantine (day 10-12).
8:30am - 3:30pm daily

Devonport, East Devonport Recreation Centre (67 Caroline Street)

Burnie, West Park, 'The Point' (10 Bass Highway)

No booking required

Mobile testing clinics
Details of future mobile testing clinics to be advised.

It is recommended that if you have any of the following symptoms, get tested for COVID-19:

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore/itchy throat, or
  • shortness of breath.

If you become very unwell or have difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Read more about Testing for COVID-19.

Changes to gatherings under Stage 3

Updated 26 June 2020

From 12pm Friday 26 June, the number of people permitted at businesses/activities (other than households) has increased.

Gathering sizes have increased to a maximum of 500 people in an undivided space outdoors and 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises. Maximum density limits have moved from 4sqm per person to 2sqm.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

For more information, see Current restrictions.

COVID-19 Safety Plans

Published 15 June 2020

The Government has a plan to ‘Rebuild a Stronger Tasmania’. As part of this plan, all workplaces are required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that complies with the minimum COVID-19 safety standards that are now in place. See COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework for more information.

Last update: 29 May 2020 10:18am

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Last update: 11 Jun 2020 11:53am

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 2006 on the Resources page.

Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council

The Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC) has been established to provide advice to the Government on strategies and initiatives to support the short to medium, and the longer term recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

PESRAC will provide advice and recommendations on how to best mitigate the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. It will also identify opportunities for economic and social renewal.

PESRAC is made up of individuals from across the business and community sectors with experience, knowledge and the necessary resourcefulness to advise the Premier on a roadmap for recovery and the social and economic opportunities and initiatives to rebuild a stronger and more resilient Tasmania.

For more information, go to the PESRAC website.

Last update: 24 Sep 2020 9:34am

The information on this page is updated regularly.

The following information relates to the Essential Traveller Category 4: Specialist skills critical to maintaining key industries or businesses. See Essential Traveller categories for more information.

This includes time critical, specialist or locally unavailable essential workers who have been granted exemption from the 14 day quarantine period upon entering Tasmania. Additional conditions apply to Essential Travellers while in the State.

Exemptions granted on 23 September 2020

Non-affected region2
Affected region or premises1
Industry breakdownGranted on
23 September 2020
Total since
26 August 2020
Food supply/Freight016
Other (includes community, government, entertainment and aviation sectors)024
All industries3227

As at 6pm, 21 September 2020

Laboratory testsNumber
Laboratory tests completed in the past 24 hours 375
Total laboratory tests 99,374

Source: Public Health Services. Information will be updated each Tuesday and Friday.

As at 6pm, 1 September 2020

Cases in TasmaniaNumber
New cases in past 24 hours 0
Total cases 228
Active 0
Recovered 215
Deaths 13

Source: Public Health Services.

Last update: 21 Aug 2020 2:17pm

Need an interpreter?

Phone the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) on 131 450 and tell them your language. Tell the interpreter your name and that you’re calling the Tasmanian Department of Health 1800 671 738.

Phone your doctor or the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738) if:

  • you feel unwell with a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, and
  • you have recently travelled outside Tasmania or had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Tell them about your symptoms and recent travel.

The Australian Government COVID-19 translated resources cover health, employment, education and general community information.

The SBS Coronavirus multi-lingual portal has content in 63 languages.

The Migration Council Australia's MyAus COVID-19 app is a free resource for Australia's culturally and linguistically diverse communities about COVID-19, its impact and available support.

Tasmanian Government translated resources

Tasmania's restrictions have eased. What do I need to know? (fact sheet)

OromoSimplified ChineseArabic 

How to get tested for COVID-19 (fact sheet)

OromoSimplified ChineseArabic 

Hospital and aged care visits (fact sheet)

OromoSimplified ChineseArabic 

Australian Government translated resources

Amharic Arabic Burmese Dari
German Greek Hakka Chin Hazaragi
Italian KarenNepaliPersian
Simplified ChineseTigrinya  

Australian Red Cross translated resources

Simple steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for yourself and others (fact sheet)

Amharic Arabic Burmese Dari
NepaliKarenHakka Chin Hazaragi

Migrant Resource Centre (Tasmania) translated resources

Social distancing (fact sheet)

Amharic Arabic BurmeseDari
Haka ChinHazaragiKarenNepali

Social distancing (Audio)

Amharic Arabic Dari Hazaragi

Last update: 03 Jul 2020 4:35pm

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

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

The Public Health Hotline ensures Tasmanians have access to coronavirus (COVID-19) support and information.

As well as handling enquiries from the general public, qualified clinical staff are available to provide advice to health professionals.

If you feel unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (including fever, runny nose, cough, sore/itchy throat or shortness of breath), please phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to arrange a referral for a COVID-19 test.

Stay Healthy Stay Connected

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.