Coronavirus facts

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2020 4:39pm

Last update: 27 Nov 2020 9:24am

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?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • fever (or signs of fever, including chills or night sweats)
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore/itchy throat
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of taste or smell.

COVID-19 can also present with the following symptoms that can occur on their own or combined with the other symptoms: headaches, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and fatigue. If you are experiencing these symptoms you should consider a COVID-19 test as part of managing your illness. Call the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738) or your GP for more information.

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

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 risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and those who are 70 years and older have substantial risk. There are also some medical conditions that may increase risk:

  • People on immune suppressive therapy following organ transplant
  • People who have had a bone marrow transplant in the last 24 months or are on immune suppressive therapy for graft vs host disease
  • People with blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome diagnosed within the last five years
  • Those having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considered to be at higher risk in public health emergencies. Specific advice is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities.

You may be at risk of moderate illness if you have other chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung disease, heart disease, cancer and kidney failure. For more information refer to the Australian Government Department of Health's Advice for people at risk of coronavirus.

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.

Is there a vaccination or proven treatment for COVID-19?

Read more about the progress of treatments and vaccines against COVID-19

Last update: 02 Dec 2020 11:24am

South Australia to be classified as a low-risk area from Thursday 3 December 2020

Published 1 December 2020

Public Health has advised that South Australia (SA) will be classified as a low-risk area from Thursday 3 December 2020.

Travellers who have only spent time in low-risk areas in the 14 days before arriving in Tasmania are not required to quarantine.

Anyone who is currently in quarantine based on time spent in SA before their arrival will be able to leave quarantine on 3 December.

The only exception to this is where a traveller has spent time in a high-risk location within SA, specifically:

  • Intensive English Language Institute, Flinders University Sturt Campus Bedford Park anytime between - 13 to 28 November 2020
  • Woodville High School, St Clair - Year 9 students and specific staff members anytime between 23 and 24 November 2020

Travellers who have been at these locations during the specified times will not be able to enter Tasmania without the approval of the Deputy State Controller. The most effective way of doing this is via the G2G system.

Anyone already in Tasmania who has visited these locations is asked to call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to arrange a COVID-19 test. Travellers should advise the hotline that they are in quarantine and have been at one of the identified locations.

People arriving in Tasmania from SA from 3 December should now register their travel and contact details via the Tas e-Travel system to receive a Tas e-Travel QR code.

Up to 250 people now permitted to stand and drink outdoors in licensed premises

Published 1 December 2020

Changes to the Management of Premises Direction now allow a maximum of 250 people (within current density requirements) standing and drinking alcohol in designated outdoor spaces of premises with a liquor licence or liquor permit.

If the density limit of one person per 2 square metres allows, there can be additional patrons in the outdoor area as long as they are not standing and drinking alcohol.

Patrons in indoor parts of the premises or event can only consume alcohol while sitting down, subject to density requirements.

This cap on the number of people permitted to stand while consuming alcohol at these outdoor spaces is required because the Events Framework enables larger gathering of patrons at events. Large numbers of people mixing freely and closely while consuming alcohol are very high risk settings for spreading COVID-19.

Direction released to implement Events Framework

Published 1 December 2020

The Mass Gatherings Direction has been released to provide a legal basis for A Framework for COVID Safe Events and Activities in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Government released the Framework in October to supports organisers to plan COVID-safe gatherings from 1 December 2020 that exceed the current gathering limits.

Depending on the risk profile of the event, it will be classed as Level 1, 2 or 3, and different controls will apply depending on the level.

More information on the Framework is available here

The Framework will be reviewed over time as the rules for mass gatherings and events are updated to reflect the changing COVID-19 situation in Tasmania. The Framework will enable organisers to apply to hold an event under one of three levels.

Additional premises and business required to collect patron information from 15 December 2020

Published 1 December 2020

An expanded list of premises and business will be required to collect information of patrons who enter and remain on the premises for at least 15 minutes.  

This will allow for the rapid identification of people who may have been exposed to COVID‑19 if a case is present.

For the full list of premises and businesses the Contact Tracing Direction will apply to see Contact Tracing.

Owners and operators need to ensure patron information is directly accessible by the Director of Public Health.

For guidance on how to meet contract tracing obligations visit www.business.tas.gov.au/coronavirus_information/contact_tracing

Check in Tas App now available for download

Published 1 December 2020

The new app system to assist recording of patrons contact details is now available for download. The Check in Tas app is available from both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

The app helps protect the community by assisting with faster contact tracing. It enables individuals to check-in to venues and have this data stored securely with the Tasmanian Department of Health in the event contact tracing is needed due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the community.

The new app is designed to assist venues meet the Public Health requirement to record contact details of individuals or one member of a group of patrons who spend more than 15 minutes on the premises.

Use of the Check in Tas app is free to venues and patrons. For further information visit the Department of Health website.

CHECK IN TAS

Published 26 November 2020

Tasmanian businesses are being encouraged to register for a new Tasmanian Government app system to assist recording of patron contact details. The Check in Tas app system will be able to be used by venues and patrons to record and store patron details. The app is designed to assist venues meet the current Public Health requirement to record contact details of individuals or one member of a group of patrons who spend more than 15 minutes on the premises.

Although a range of methods are available for venues and patrons to record details of their visits to hospitality venues, the Check in Tas app will enable the Department of Health to store the contact details for 28 days before they are automatically destroyed.

Use of the Check in Tas app is free to venues to and patrons. Patrons will be invited to download the app after an initial business registration period. For more information see Check in Tas app.

Extension of the COVID-19 Residential Tenancy Emergency Period

Published 25 November 2020

The Tasmanian Government has announced the extension of the COVID-19 Residential Tenancy Emergency Period.

The emergency period was due to expire on 1 December, and has now been extended until 31 January 2021.This extends the existing protections in place to assist tenants and landlords who have been affected by COVID-19.

Financial Support for tenants and landlords have also been extended. To apply online or find out more, see the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services (CBOS) website or call 1300 654 499.

Travellers from South Australia Update 3pm Monday 23 November

Published 23 November 2020

People are no longer required to self-isolate if you arrived in Tasmania before 5:30pm on 16 November and you had spent time in South Australia in the previous 14 days.

Travellers in this category, currently self-isolating, and not experiencing symptoms or awaiting COVID-19 test results can now end their self-isolation period.

However, if waiting for a COVID-19 test result please stay in self-isolation until you get a negative result. This decision is based on the latest information showing extensive testing in South Australia over the past week has not detected any wider transmission occurring in the SA community during the week before 16 November.

Travellers who spent time in South Australia in the 14 days before their arrival in Tasmania and who arrived after 5:30pm on 16 November are required to remain in quarantine until they have completed 14 days quarantine or advised otherwise by Public Health.

If experiencing symptoms, contact the Public Health Hotline 1800 671 738 and advise that you are currently in quarantine.

Travellers in quarantine can choose to leave Tasmania if they are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. If leaving Tasmania, travellers need to travel straight to a port of departure, without stopping on the way. Private transport should be used if possible. If using public transport, travellers should wear a mask and practice good hand hygiene. For further information, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

At this stage South Australia remains a medium-risk area. Travellers intending to travel to Tasmania, who have spent time in South Australia in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Tasmania, will be required to enter quarantine on arrival. If intending to travel, you are required to use the G2G system.

International Seasonal Workers recruitment

Published 7 November 2020

Tasmanian agricultural businesses who are approved employers under the Australian Government’s Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), can now apply to recruit workers from some overseas locations, to supplement the local workforce.

To be permitted to source international workers, Tasmanian agricultural businesses must demonstrate that they have already attempted to recruit from within Tasmania and have a critical need for more workers.

If approved, these workers can arrive in Australia from overseas and transit directly to Hobart via an interstate airport to complete 14 days quarantine in Government-designated accommodation. Testing and safety protocols will apply.

For more information and to apply, visit the DPIPWE website.

International mercy flights

Published 7 November 2020

Tasmania will assist in the national effort to help vulnerable Australians overseas return home with a number to undertake their quarantine in Tasmania from later this month.

Upon arrival in Tasmania, travellers will undertake 14 days quarantine in Government-designated hotel quarantine facilities with services provided to ensure security on site as well as health and other services for the returning Australians while they are in quarantine. COVID-19 testing will be undertaken of all travellers prior to their arrival in Tasmania. Costs associated with the quarantine process will be met by the Australian Government.

Travellers will include people who are in poor health, have lost their jobs, have exhausted their finances, have limited English or are returning home for compassionate reasons.

Once their quarantine is complete, travellers will be able to leave Tasmania if they wish, within the border restrictions of other jurisdictions.

While also enabling the safe return and quarantining of Australian citizens, this approach also recognises the recent successful quarantine of international Antarctic expeditioners. This process demonstrated Tasmania's capacity to provide the security, support services and infection control practices required to manage high-risk arrivals.

Household gathering changes from 13 November 2020

Published 6 November 2020

Household gathering restrictions will change from 13 November 2020.

A maximum of 40 people (in addition to the people who live at the premises) will be permitted at household gatherings from this date.

The current restriction of 20 visitors remains in place until that date.

For information on current gathering restrictions see Gatherings, density and physical distancing.

Aged care visitor restrictions eased for travellers from low risk areas

Published 26 October 2020

From Monday 26 October, travellers from low risk areas can visit Tasmanian residential aged care facilities under the same conditions in place for Tasmanians.

Those conditions are:

  • No more than two people can visit each resident at any time
  • Visits must take place in the resident’s room, outdoors, or in a non-communal area, as designated by the facility
  • Visitors must not have any symptoms of acute respiratory infection, including fever (higher than 37.5 degrees), signs of fever (eg chills, night sweats), cough, sore throat, runny nose; or shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell
  • Unless an exemption has been granted visitors must not be in quarantine. That means they must not have:
  • been in an area identified as medium or high-risk for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days
  • had contact with anyone known to have COVID-19, or reasonably suspected of having COVID-19, within the previous 14 days (except as part of their employment while wearing effective personal protective equipment).
  • All visitors must have had the 2020 influenza vaccine, unless they have evidence that they cannot safely have the vaccine for medical reasons.

Travellers from medium and high risk areas in quarantine can seek exemption to visit aged care facilities on a case-by-case basis if they are well and seek to provide end-of-life support to a family member or other significant person.

Keeping elderly people safe from COVID-19 remains a high priority and residential aged care services are still required to screen all visitors to aged care facilities.

New SMS system enhancing quarantine compliance checking

Published 25 October 2020

Travellers in home quarantine can opt in to use SMS technology to confirm their location as part of compliance checks from 26 October 2020.

The new technology will enhance, rather than replace, the physical compliance checks that have been conducted by Tasmania Police and other authorised officers since March this year.

SMS messages will be sent to those in quarantine via Whispir, a secure communications platform already used successfully by Tasmania Police.

If the recipient opts in via SMS, mobile phone location services will be used to pinpoint their location. They will not be live tracked - their location will be provided on a map image when they click on the link in the SMS.

COVID-19 response plan for disability service providers

Published 13 October 2020

A plan to provide guidance to the Tasmanian disability service sector in relation to the management of COVID-19 has been released by the Tasmanian government. The Tasmanian Coronavirus Disability Service Providers Preparedness and Response Plan is a resource for disability service providers.

The Plan provides guidance material to disability service providers to help ensure they are prepared for, and can manage, the impacts of COVID-19 for their organisation, the people with disability they work with and their staff. It presents operational guidance on managing and preventing the transmission of COVID-19 for people with disability and also links to relevant resources and information sources.

For more information about the plan, visit: www.communities.tas.gov.au/disability

Additional COVID-19 symptoms

Published 9 October 2020

It is important to get tested if you have or have had any of the following symptoms in the past 7 days, even mild: fever (or signs of fever, including chills or night sweats), runny nose, cough, sore/itchy throat, shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell.

COVID-19 can also present with the following symptoms that can occur on their own or combined with the other symptoms: headaches, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite and fatigue. If you are experiencing these symptoms you should consider a COVID-19 test as part of managing your illness.

For more information visit Testing for COVID-19.

Advice for hay fever symptoms

Published 28 September 2020

Hay fever can be caused by allergies to pollen from some flowering plants and is more common in Tasmania during spring and summer.

Hay fever also has the same symptoms as a cold, flu and COVID-19, so it is hard to tell them apart without testing.

If you have hay fever symptoms, even mild symptoms, it’s important you get tested for COVID-19.

If your result is negative, see your GP about managing your symptoms and ask for a certificate or letter so you can go back to work or school.

For more information visit Testing for COVID-19.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 http://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/disaster.

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.

Last update: 05 Nov 2020 9:20am

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Resources

Find a range of Stay Healthy Stay Connected resources

Last update: 20 Nov 2020 7:15pm

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.

Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council

The Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council (PESRAC) was 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 provides 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: 04 Dec 2020 9:46am

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 3 December 2020

OriginNumber
Medium-risk area1
High-risk area0
Industry breakdownGranted on
3 December 2020
Total since
26 August 2020
Trade/Construction0146
Food supply/Freight067
Utilities/Infrastructure0231
Medical0133
Agriculture/Aquaculture0143
Mining/Manufacturing0135
Tourism/Hospitality027
Other (includes community, government, entertainment and aviation sectors)0114
All industries0996

As at 6pm, 3 December 2020

Laboratory tests

Number
3 December 2020389
Total laboratory tests130,497

Source: Public Health Services. Information will be updated each weekday.

As at 6pm, 3 December 2020

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

Source: Public Health Services.

Government-designated quarantine accommodation (Hotel location) Number currently in quarantine Total since 30 March 2020
South 9 3,944
North 1 2,135
North West 4           2,051

Source:  Department of Communities Tasmania

Last update: 05 Nov 2020 12:16pm

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

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

EnglishDariPersianNepali
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
OromoPersianTigrinya 

Migrant Resource Centre (Tasmania) translated resources

Social distancing (fact sheet)

Amharic Arabic BurmeseDari
Haka ChinHazaragiKarenNepali
OromoPersianTigrinya 

Social distancing (Audio)

Amharic Arabic Dari Hazaragi
KarenNepaliOromoPersian
Tigrinya  

Last update: 24 Nov 2020 9:27am

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.

Last update: 30 Nov 2020 10:07am

The virus that causes COVID-19 (called SARS-CoV-2) is a new and different virus. It was an unknown virus until the first cases of COVID-19 started to be detected towards the end of 2019. The virus has since been identified as something that has not been seen before in human populations.

Because COVID-19 is an illness that is different to anything else we have seen before, it requires its own vaccine. There is NO existing vaccine that can protect against COVID-19.

The World Health Organisation is coordinating the global effort to manufacture a vaccine against COVID-19. Australia has been actively involved in research and development and is contributing to the global effort to find vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.

It takes time to develop a vaccine from scratch. First, preliminary research is undertaken to identify possible vaccines, then test batches of the vaccine are created, then researchers needs to check that it is effective and safe for use on a wide range of people – this includes multiple periods of human vaccination trials. If trials are successful and the vaccine is proven to be both safe and effective against COVID-19, it will need to be manufactured and distributed on a large scale. The logistics of this process are complex and it will take time.

While we wait for a vaccine to be readily available, it’s important we all follow the rules and keep up COVID-safe behaviours to stop the spread of COVID-19. Stay home if you are sick and get tested if you have symptoms. When you are out – physically distance 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.

What is the latest information on vaccine development?

There are several vaccines currently under development around the world and a number of them are at the clinical trial stage. A few are in phase 3 of clinical trials – this means that researchers are getting closer to being able to more conclusively analyse the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.

Australia has entered into 5 separate agreements for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, if they are proved safe and effective. You can read more about Australia’s vaccine agreements and the progress of each vaccine on the Australian Department of Health website.

The Novavax and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are expected to be available in Australia from early to mid-2021. This is subject to approval of the vaccine by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). It is important to remember that the situation can change at any time. Until a vaccine has been proved completely safe and effective, and mass manufacture is underway, no timeframe is certain.

More general information view Australia’s plan for vaccination and treatments.

What will happen once a vaccine is available?

Once a vaccine becomes available, Tasmania will be part of a national coordinated approach to roll out free vaccines. There are some key principles and assumptions that will underpin the vaccination program. These include:

  • Vaccines will be free of charge for all Australian citizens, permanent residents and most visa holders.
  • Vaccination will be strongly encouraged for everyone who is able to be vaccinated.
  • The vaccine will be rolled out first to identified populations. There will be scope to respond to outbreaks by redirecting vaccination priority to other areas/populations should this become necessary during the roll out.

Identifying how the vaccine is rolled out will take into consideration Tasmania’s high-risk groups. High-risk groups may include:

  • People who are at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. This may include Health care workers, including those in hospitals and aged care facilities.
  • People who are at an increased risk of severe illness or death if they contract COVID-19, relative to the general population. This may include elderly populations and those with compromised immune health.
  • People working in services critical to the functioning of our society, including some essential services staff and people working in supply and distribution of essential goods and services.

If there is no vaccine, what is the treatment for COVID-19 right now?

There is a large scale global effort underway to find safe and effective treatments for COVID-19. This work is being undertaken alongside vaccine research.

It’s important to remember that most people who get COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. Most people recover at home over a week or two with no treatment required.

Medical care can treat most symptoms – this may include increased fluid intake, rest and healthy eating. In more severe cases hospitalisation could be required and patients may need breathing support.

It’s important to understand that COVID-19 is a virus. Traditional antibiotic treatment, as used to treat bacterial infections, will not work against the COVID-19 virus.

A number of potential treatments continue to be trialled for effectiveness. Some of the more common drugs gaining public recognition include ivermectin, doxycycline and zinc (used together), remdesivir, corticosteroids and hydroxychloroquine. Though trialling these potential treatments is important, remember that just because a drug or treatment method is receiving widespread attention it doesn’t mean it is safe or effective for treating COVID-19. There are a number of potential treatment options that have been in the international spotlight and trialled, but found not to be effective.

The only treatment that has been given temporary approval for use in Australia by the TGA is remdesivir. Some studies have shown that this antiviral drug can help severely sick adults and young people get out of hospital sooner. Studies on the efficacy of remdesivir are continuing and it is not a guaranteed treatment for COVID-19. It is also only available to hospitalised patients who meet certain criteria.

The best approach to saving lives remains limiting the spread of COVID-19 to protect our population and prevent vulnerable Tasmanians from contracting the virus. Every individual plays a significant role in protecting our state from the impacts of COVID-19. See more about coronaviruses and what is known about COVID-19.