Coronavirus facts

Last update: 20 May 2020 2:57pm

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 without symptoms?

Testing people for COVID-19 is important to stop the spread of the disease in the community. Testing identifies people who have the disease and quarantining reduces the risk of those people mixing with other people and passing it on.

Tasmania’s approach to testing people for COVID-19 is similar to other States and Territories and is based on information from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. The Committee is made up of Chief Health Officers from all Australian States and Territories and is the main national expert committee for advice about COVID-19 in Australia.

The focus of testing in Australia is to test people who have cold or flu like symptoms (however mild) – rather than testing people who don’t have any symptoms of illness.

The main reason for this is because people who have cold or flu like symptoms are more likely to have COVID-19 than people without symptoms. People with symptoms are also more likely to pass the illness on to other people than those who don’t have any symptoms – meaning that it is more important to identify those who have the illness and are showing symptoms because they are more likely to make others sick.

However there are times when it is important to test some people who don’t have symptoms. This includes workers in places where there are people who could be badly affected if they caught COVID-19. This includes health care workers and aged care workers. Sometimes people who don’t have symptoms are tested if there is a high chance they might develop COVID-19, such as some close contacts of confirmed cases and where there is an outbreak.

Apart from these type of situations however, the advice from Australia’s Chief Health Officers at this stage in Australia, with the current low level of transmission in the community, that it is more effective to continue to focus on testing of people with symptoms.

Last update: 02 Jul 2020 8:15am

As at 6pm, 1 July 2020

Laboratory testsNumber
Laboratory tests completed in the past 24 hours839
Total laboratory tests50,606
Cases in TasmaniaNumber
New cases in past 24 hours0
Total cases226

* 0 hospital inpatients (0 in ICU)

Last update: 02 Jul 2020 4:14pm

Free bus rides ending

Published 1 July 2020

Free rides on Tasmania’s buses end on Sunday 5 July 2020. Regular passengers are urged to make sure they have, and top-up, a smartcard where available to help reduce person-to-person contact when handling cash.

Passengers should contact their bus operator to enquire about cashless ticketing options such as smartcards. Using a smartcard will also save you 20 per cent on regular fares.

Where only cash tickets are available, passengers are asked to purchase 10-ride tickets to reduce the number of transactions.

Drivers will accept cash fares but passengers are encouraged to have the correct fare ready when boarding.

Fares payable from Monday 6 July 2020 are listed on the Transport Tasmania and Metro Tasmania websites.

Tasmanian border restrictions update

Published 26 June 2020

The Tasmanian Government has currently set a date of Friday 24 July for changes to be made to current border restrictions. However if the public health advice at that time, or in the immediate lead up to that date, is that it is not safe to open, border restrictions will remain in place.

Further information will be provided as it is available.

Read about the current border restrictions and quarantine requirements.

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 as Tasmania moves to Stage 3 in its Roadmap to Recovery.

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.

These limits also apply to sport, exercise and recreation with the move to Level C of the AIS Framework for Rebooting Sport, meaning the following is now permitted:

  • full contact training
  • full competition sport (contact and non-contact)
  • use of change rooms and other shared facilities.

For more information, see Current restrictions.

Testing locations for COVID-19

Updated 26 June 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

Devonport, East Devonport Recreation Centre (67 Caroline Street)

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

No booking required

Mobile testing clinics
4-6 July
10am - 3:30pm
Campbell Town, Campbell Town Sports Groun (High Street)No booking requiredDrive-up testing

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.

The Tasmania Project

Updated 18 June 2020

How are you experiencing and adapting to life in the time of COVID-19? What do you need and want now, and for the future? The University of Tasmania has established The Tasmania Project to give you a voice and to gather important information during and beyond the pandemic.

UTAS is seeking Tasmanian residents to participate in surveys and/or interviews. The information gathered will be summarised as a resource for those making critical decisions in response to the pandemic, and will help Tasmanians work together through the pandemic and support recovery for a strong future.

Visit the UTAS website to register your interest to participate in the study.

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.

Legislative Council elections to safely proceed

Published 12 June 2020

The 2020 Legislative Council Elections for the divisions of Huon and Rosevears will be held on Saturday, 1 August 2020.

The Government has received advice from Public Health that, given current progress of COVID-19 cases in Tasmania, there is no longer a significant risk to public health that would make it unsafe to hold the 2020 periodical elections.

The Tasmanian Electoral Commission (TEC) will be introducing measures such as strong social distancing and personal hygiene practices in accordance with Public Health requirements for all staff and voters at polling booths. This will include increasing distances between voting booths and provision of additional pencils and hand sanitiser. Voters will also be able to bring their own pencils if they wish.

Shortly, voters will be able to apply for a postal vote, should they wish. There will also be a pre-poll period to ensure people have a range of options in order to cast their vote. Further information on this will be issued by the TEC.

Declaration of State of Emergency extended

Published 11 June 2020

The Tasmanian Government has today extended the Declaration of a State of Emergency for four weeks to 9 July.

The Government advised this is necessary to uphold the relevant directions in place to respond to the pandemic.

Read the full Direction for more information.

COVID-19 North West Regional Hospital Outbreak Interim Report

Published 30 April 2020

The preliminary report by Public Health Services (PHS) on the outbreak of COVID-19 associated with healthcare facilities in the Northwest Region of Tasmania has been released.

The report summarises the public health data obtained from confirmed cases associated with the outbreak and discusses these in the context of lessons learned that could inform the response to future COVID-19 and other outbreaks in Tasmanian healthcare facilities.

The report is available on the Department of Health website.

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: 30 Jun 2020 2:23pm

General information

About coronavirus and the national response

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

Translated resources

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.

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.