Keeping yourself safe

Last update: 20 May 2020 2:42pm

What is the risk of a companion animal contracting or spreading the coronavirus?

There is very little evidence that cats and dogs or any other common pet animal species can become infected with or develop disease or are able to effectively transmit the coronavirus.

The risk of coronavirus transmission to humans from fur or animal coats is assessed as low. However, animals in close proximity to infected humans may become contaminated and act as a vehicle (fomite) for carrying the coronavirus.

Depending on the animal housing environment, studies show that coronavirus survival on fur without any treatment is unlikely to exceed two days under room temperature and conditions extrapolated from limited studies on the closely related SARS CoV virus.

My animal may have come into contact with a person with COVID-19. What should I do?

It is recommended animals in contact with humans with COVID-19 should be washed immediately before entering any type of alternative accommodation including other households, boarding kennels, animal shelters and before a visit to the vet.

If contact with a human COVID-19 case has occurred, it is also recommended that people with adequate PPE transport the animal to the arranged destination for further treatment and care, ensuring appropriate hygiene procedures are also met.

Shampoo, soaps and detergents effectively applied, destroy the coronavirus. Any human shampoo or soap is fine for use on animals.

A hot detergent wash is recommended for cleaning pet bedding and other associated items.

Animal-human face contact should be minimised and appropriate PPE and hygiene procedures used according to the coronavirus risk context.

Hand hygiene is essential before and after handling your pets, as well as their food and water bowls.

Visits to veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels

Just like many other businesses, in the current climate, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels require an appointment before any visit and prefer payment by credit card. Physical distancing rules apply.

In the current situation, some veterinary services may not be available.

It is very important that the coronavirus risk status of the household is clearly communicated to veterinary clinics or alternative accommodation facilities before visiting so they can take appropriate measures.

A coronavirus risk assessment should be applied to species such as horses, livestock and birds to assess the risk of contamination and the need for decontamination.

This risk assessment is a series of questions:

  • Is there anyone in contact who has COVID in the last 2 days?
  • Is there any possible contact with a COVID contaminated situation?
  • Do I routinely touch, pat, cuddle the animal?
  • Is it practical to wash the animal?
  • Will washing adversely affect the health of the animals?

There is a potential coronavirus risk with ferrets and extra caution should be taken with this species if they have been exposed to an infected owner.

Where can I find more information?

Last update: 17 May 2020 10:01am

What is a close contact

A close contact is anyone who:

  • has had face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes (cumulative over the course of a week) with someone known to have COVID-19, while that person was or may have been infectious, including in the 48 hours before their symptoms started
  • shared a closed space (eg waiting room, classroom) for more than two hours with someone known to have COVID-19, while that person was or may have been infectious, including in the 48 hours before their symptoms started.

Close contacts do not include healthcare workers and other people who used infection control precautions, including the recommended personal protective equipment, while caring for someone with COVID-19.

Any other contact is deemed low risk.

Last update: 04 May 2020 8:07pm

The COVIDSafe app is an Australian Government initiative.

With your privacy protected by law, COVIDSafe keeps a secure note of other users you’ve been near to enhance response measures if someone is confirmed as a COVID-19 case.

Download COVIDSafe from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

For more information about the COVIDSafe app, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Last update: 16 Jun 2020 3:41pm

Food safety

COVID-19 isn’t a foodborne illness. However, safe handling and preparation of food will help reduce the chance of picking up the illness through touching surfaces which have the virus on them. By being extra careful in following food safety advice you can help prevent the spread of disease.

Advice for when shopping and preparing food

  • Wipe your shopping trolley down. Use in-store wipes provided, or take your own.
  • Try not to touch your face when shopping for food and in other public places.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after shopping and before preparing food.
  • Use a hand sanitiser after leaving the store.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables under running water before eating.
  • You don’t need to use soap. This is usual food safety advice.
  • Cooking food makes it safe. Heat will kill germs.

Keeping safe at home

  • Before and after meals thoroughly clean food preparation surfaces like kitchen benches.
  • Wash hands before preparing food for yourself and others. Wash hands before and after eating.
  • Do not prepare food for others if you are unwell. This is important all the time to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Do not eat or share food with people who are unwell with COVID-19. This helps reduce risk of spreading the virus.

How the virus spreads

The virus most likely spreads through:

  • close contact with an infectious person
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s 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.

TasWater

Drinking water supplied by TasWater is safe to drink. Disinfection processes for drinking water are designed and operated to manage pathogens, such as viruses. Conventional disinfection applied to inactivate the most resistant viruses will also inactivate COVID-19. No additional treatment is required and there is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through drinking water. The safety of drinking water supplied to Tasmanians by TasWater is regulated by the Department of Health under a comprehensive legislative framework to ensure a consistent, reliable supply of safe, good quality drinking water.

Where a reticulated drinking water supply is available, this is the best and safest option. There is no need to buy bottled water. Water supply is an essential service and TasWater will continue to work with the Department to ensure that safe drinking water is delivered to your home at all times. Should the quality of your water change, then you will be advised about any restrictions on the safe use of your water. This is unlikely to occur and if it does, then it would not be COVID-19 related.

For more information see the Water Research Australia fact sheet for COVID-19.

Public drinking water fountains and bottle fill stations

Public drinking water supplies are safe to drink, however the surfaces around the fountain including the spout, button/leaver and nozzles could pose a risk for the transmission of COVID-19 and other germs.

  • Don’t place your mouth on the spout of the fountain or allow your water bottle to come into contact with the nozzle when refilling.
  • Test the water flow and let the water flow for 10 seconds to allow for fresh, clean water to come through prior to drinking.
  • If the fountain requires you to push a button or lever, clean the surface before and after, or use your elbow.
  • Clean your hands afterwards with an alcohol-based rub or wash them with soap and water.

The Department of Health will advise asset owners and managers carry out more frequent cleaning of drinking water fountains.

Drinking water safety

With the easing of restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, many facilities and services are starting to operate again; albeit in a reduced fashion. It is important to consider the safety of drinking water in buildings you manage and/or own.

Stagnant water is known to accumulate heavy metals over time to the point that the water does not meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines safe limits.

Public Health advises as part of regular maintenance, all outlets used for drinking water are flushed for at least five minutes to ensure fresh water from the mains supply is drawn through and safe for consumption. This is essential in buildings that have been wholly unoccupied or partially unoccupied during the restrictions.

This advice applies to managers/owners of multi-storey office buildings, hotels, accommodation and holiday shacks. For further information, contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

What about reusable coffee cups provided by the customer?

Reusable cups provided by customers (commonly known as keep cups) have not been banned or prohibited.

Food businesses can still accept ‘keep cups’ if they choose to. Always check the cups are clean and not likely to cause cross-contamination and don’t accept/use a cup if it is unclean. It is also a good idea to get the customer to retain/hold onto the lid. Baristas should be mindful of the need to wash their hands frequently when preparing coffee and other drinks.

Last update: 26 Jun 2020 12:36pm

Gatherings at households – including shacks – are limited to up to 20 people at any one time, not including residents of the household. You should not visit others or have visitors to your home if you are unwell.

What is a gathering?

A gathering is the total number of people present in any single undivided space. All individuals – whether they are business operators, staff, volunteers, attendees, children or babies – are considered part of the gathering number.

Why do we have maximum gathering numbers?

Advice from Public Health Services is that a staged easing of restrictions should occur to monitor the transmission risk of COVID-19. This includes a gradual increase in gathering numbers. It is important to note that where the number of people permitted according to the density limit (one person per 2 square metres) is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

Read about the current restrictions on gatherings and Management of Premises Direction.

It is difficult to maintain physical distancing and effective hygiene measures in large public gatherings. Restricting gathering numbers reduces the likelihood of transmission and provides opportunities for the community to continue effective hygiene practices.

Are there any exceptions to the gathering limits?

The limits do not apply to the following specified premises, but the number of people on these premises should not exceed the total number specified in the occupancy permit for the premises under the Building Act 2016. The specified premises are:

  • Airports and premises used for public or commercial transport
  • Medical or health service facilities, including veterinary facilities
  • Disability or aged care facilities
  • Prisons, correctional facilities, youth justice centres
  • Courts or tribunals
  • Parliament
  • Schools, universities, education institutions, childcare facilities, child and family centres
  • Premises that deliver services and support to disadvantaged community members eg those providing homeless accommodation, boarding houses, emergency/social housing, child safety services, foodbanks, employment services, and migrant and refugee assistance
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces where people are transiting through
  • Emergency services.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor gatherings?

An indoor space is any area, room or premises that is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls (this also applies to temporary structures, for example a marquee). Outdoor spaces are not enclosed by a roof or walls.

Do the limits apply to the entire venue or individual spaces?

For mixed use venues with multiple indoor or outdoor spaces, the gathering cap (250 people for indoor, or 500 people for outdoor) applies separately to each single undivided space. For example, a large hotel with multiple, separate indoor spaces (eg conference room, bar, restaurant, foyer, beer garden), is permitted to have up to 250 people for each of these spaces (the density limit applies).

What is meant by the maximum density limit?

The maximum density limit aims to prevent the crowding of people in a space. A premises must not have a density of more than 1 person per 2 square metres of floor space. This means an operator must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (indoor or outdoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 2 square metres of space for each person.

What is the 2 square metres per person rule?

The maximum number of people at a premises is limited by the floor space of the premises, as a minimum of 2 square metres of space is required for each attendee. This is known as the 2 square metre rule.

The maximum number of people allowed at a premises is the smaller number of either:

  • The maximum number of people for which there is 2 square metres per person
  • The maximum number gathering number specified for the type of venue/activity

How to apply the 2 square metres per person rule

To comply with the 2 square metre rule, measure the length and width of the floor space. Multiply the length by the width to calculate the area in square metres, and divide this by 2. The final number is the maximum number of people allowed in the premises (up to the maximum gathering size).

For example, in hospitality venues, the operator of a premises must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (whether outdoor or indoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 2 square metres of space for each person (the four square metre rule).

Where practicable, the operator should:

  • Ensure that staff and patrons are 1.5 metres away from each other. For groups of people seated at the same table, and for staff at times, this will not be practicable.
  • Arrange the premises in such a way so that the 1.5 metre rule can be adhered to between patrons from different tables.
  • Coordinate arrivals and seating of patrons so that crowding does not occur in arrival/waiting areas.
  • Ensure that there is appropriate space between dine-in patrons and takeaway food pickup areas within the premises.

Read more about requirements of businesses under the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.

How do I stay safe in a gathering?

COVID-19 is spread through contact with people. In any gathering or setting it is important to maintain:

  • physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres between people
  • hand hygiene
  • respiratory hygiene (sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissues and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing)
  • frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection.

Why is staying 1.5 metres from others important?

Physical distancing continues to be the strongest safeguard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must continue to maintain a safe distance of no less than 1.5 metres between yourself and others, where safe and practical.

Last update: 02 Jul 2020 9:29am

Home isolation periods and/or the spread of COVID-19 can be stressful and may leave you feeling concerned. There are a range of support services available, including talking to a counsellor or other mental health professional.

See also Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 and Alcohol and COVID-19.

A Tasmanian Lifeline: 1800 98 44 34

Lifeline Tasmania has set up a new service for Tasmanians, specifically to deal with unprecedented demand for information, advice and support because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new phone line will offer three types of support:

  • Call in: Tasmanians will receive psychosocial support from a trained support worker to discuss concerns and be redirected where appropriate to a referral service.
  • Call out: Contact socially isolated older Tasmanians identified through existing services, family and friends who are concerned or by other health professionals.
  • Reach out: Through partnership with those industries significantly impacted, such as tourism, hospitality, retail identify at-risk members and reach out for psychosocial support, counselling or employee assistance programs.

A Tasmanian Lifeline is staffed from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

For more information about A Tasmanian Lifeline visit the website or email taslifeline@lifelinetasmania.org.au.

Head to Health

The Head to Health website provides links to trusted Australian mental health online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. It also has online programs and forums, as well as a range of digital information resources.

Using the search page, you can navigate to various resources and services for help if you’re experiencing mental health concerns, or trying to support someone else. If you’re not sure where to start, you can also use Sam the Chatbot. Sam provides tailored recommendations on information and services that best suit your needs.

Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service

The Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service website is regularly updated with information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time. If you are worried or struggling to cope during the coronavirus pandemic, trained counsellors through the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service helpline are available to support you 24/7 by calling 1800 512 348.

COVID Connect

COVID Connect is a free service from Australian Red Cross to provide support and community connection to people who are feeling socially isolated as a result of COVID-19. So, if you are not in regular contact with others, and could do with  a friendly chat our one of our volunteers would be happy to call you – once or regularly – for a friendly chat to help maintain or improve social connection. Visit the Australian Red Cross website to find out more and register for a COVID Connect call.

National COVID Older Persons Information Line

Older people, carers, people living with dementia and their families can access advice and support from specially trained staff on 1800 171 866.

Where to get help

Last update: 01 Jun 2020 10:10am

For all pregnant women

What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women?

Information on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies is limited because the virus is new.

Pregnant women do not seem more likely to get COVID-19 than other people.

For those that do get COVID-19, most have mild or moderate illness that can be managed at home.

Some pregnant women may get very sick with COVID-19 and need hospital care.

Pregnant women at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include those:

  • in the last three months of pregnancy (third trimester)
  • with heart or lung disease or weakened immune systems
  • who are obese (very overweight)
  • who smoke.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 harms unborn babies.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 makes miscarriage more likely.

Around the world, there have been a few times when the virus that causes COVID-19 may have spread from a mother to her unborn baby. Each time, it did not appear to harm the baby.

How can I protect myself and my baby from COVID-19?

It is important to protect yourself and your baby from COVID-19.

  • Stay at home as much as possible but continue your pregnancy check-ups with your midwife and/or doctor.
  • Wash your hands often and well, using soap and running water (alcohol-based hand rub is OK if your hands do not look dirty). Always wash your hands before touching your face (especially lips, mouth, nose, eyes), food or drinks.
  • Stay away from people you don’t live with (except your doctor / midwife).
  • Stay well away from people who are sick.

It important to look after your general health during this time too.

  • Talk with your doctor or midwife about how to stay healthy, for you and your baby.
  • Get your flu shot. It won’t protect against COVID-19, but will help protect you against influenza, which can also make pregnant women very sick.
  • Get vaccinated against whooping cough (after 20 weeks’ gestation) to protect your baby. Whooping cough is a serious and potentially deadly illness for babies.
  • Consider online fitness programs to help you stay active at home. Pregnancy yoga and Pilates are good options. Talk with your midwife or doctor about what’s right for you.
  • Get enough vitamin D, especially in Tasmania’s cooler months when it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun.

Mind your mind. Being pregnant can be a stressful time. COVID-19 may have added to your stress levels. Keep in touch with family and friends through phone calls, video and social media. Stay connected on social media with groups that can help support you during this time.

I'm feeling down or anxious, where can I get help?

If you are struggling or need to talk with someone, talk with your partner, GP or midwife, or call a support service:

It’s time to seek advice from a health professional if:

  • you feel consistently bad (eg sad or worried) for more than two weeks
  • negative thoughts and feelings start to affect your ability to function normally
  • you have signs of depression, eg if you lose interest in doing things you usually enjoy, or often feel hopeless or unable to cope
  • you feel anxious or worried most or all the time
  • you start having panic attacks or develop obsessive or compulsive behaviours.

Will there be changes to my antenatal care (pregnancy check-ups)?

Your doctor or midwife may change the way you have pregnancy check-ups, to help protect you and others from COVID-19.

They may:

  • shorten the time of your antenatal visits / pregnancy checkups
  • increase the time between your antenatal visits / pregnancy check ups
  • do some of your checks over the phone or by video
  • do fewer antenatal classes and make classes smaller, or provide the classes online
  • ask you to attend your appointments alone
  • limit your birth support team to just your partner and maternity ward staff
  • restrict visitors in hospital before, during and after the birth, allowing only your partner to visit
  • arrange for you to go home from hospital early, with support from midwives visiting you at home.

Will there be changes when I give birth?

There may be changes from time to time in the availability of your local maternity / birthing hospital services, because of the risk of COVID-19 or availability of staff.

Your safety and the safety of your baby is most important.

Ask your doctor or midwife about the latest arrangements.

General information is also available on the Department of Health website.

For pregnant women told to quarantine or who have or may have COVID-19

What happens if I get sick with COVID-19? Will I need to go to hospital?

If you test positive for COVID-19 or told you are a ‘probable case’, please phone your doctor or midwife and tell them.

Most people who get COVID-19 have mild illness. If you get COVID-19 and have mild symptoms, you can stay at home. A healthcare worker will contact you most days while you are sick, to check how you are.

If you get very sick, you might need to be cared for in hospital.

Any time, if you think you are getting worse, call your doctor or the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738). If you are very unwell or have trouble breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Tell the operator you have COVID-19 and are pregnant.

If you are worried about your baby, call your maternity unit, midwife or doctor.

If I have COVID-19, what will that mean for my baby?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 harms unborn babies.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 makes miscarriage more likely.

Around the world, there have been times when it is possible the virus that causes COVID-19 may have spread from a mother to her unborn baby. Each time, the virus did not seem to harm the baby.

As a precaution, an ultrasound scan will be arranged for a few weeks after your recovery to check that your baby is well. However, if you are concerned for any reason during your pregnancy, contact your midwife and/or doctor.

Some women overseas with COVID-19 have given birth prematurely (early). This may be because the virus caused early birth or because doctors recommended the baby be born early because the mother was sick.

If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 when your baby is born, your baby may be tested for the virus.

Your doctor and midwife will talk to you about the best way to keep your baby safe.

What should I do if I have been told to quarantine and I'm due for a check-up?

If you have been told to self-quarantine because of COVID-19 and are due to attend a pregnancy check up with your doctor or midwife, phone them and let them know your situation.

Your doctor or midwife will tell you if your appointment should go ahead and what you need to do.

What should I do if I am worried about my baby?

Contact your maternity unit, doctor or midwife if:

  • you are worried about your baby at any time
  • your baby’s movements change
  • you think your waters have broken
  • labour pains start.

Will being in COVID-19 quarantine affect where I give birth?

There may be changes from time to time in the availability of your local maternity / birthing hospital services, because of the risk of COVID-19 or availability of staff.

Your safety and the safety of your baby is most important.

Ask your doctor or midwife about the latest arrangements.

Your plan to birth in hospital will not change.

In hospital, midwives will closely monitor you to ensure your labour is progressing well and that your baby is coping with labour, using electronic foetal monitoring. This can only happen in a delivery unit where doctors and midwives are present.

If you are sick with COVID-19, doctors and midwives in hospital will also monitor your oxygen levels throughout labour. This is important because COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and affect the oxygen levels in your body. If you are sick, hospital is the safest place for childbirth, for you and your baby.

Will being in COVID-19 quarantine affect how I give birth?

If you are well, COVID-19 should not cause big changes to how you give birth.

If you are unwell or short of breath, your doctor may recommend a caesarean birth.

Your doctor / midwife / birth team are likely to wear personal protective equipment (including gowns and facemasks) to protect themselves.

Your doctor and midwife will talk with you about pain relief options that are consistent with national guidelines and your obstetrician.

What should I do if I go into labour while I am in quarantine for COVID-19?

If you have been told to quarantine because of COVID-19 and you go into labour, call your midwife or hospital birth team.

Tell them you are in quarantine because of COVID-19. They will tell you what to do and where to go.

Your midwife and hospital birth team will know how to look after you and your baby safely and will follow your birth plan as much as possible.

If you are sick with COVID-19, doctors and midwives in hospital will also monitor your oxygen levels throughout labour. This is important because COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and affect the oxygen levels in your body. If you are sick, hospital is the safest place for childbirth, for you and your baby.

Your doctor or midwife might tell you to stay at home in the early stage of labour. This is normal any time.

When it is time for you to go hospital:

  • wash your hands before leaving home
  • travel in your own car with your partner if you can (unless your partner has symptoms of COVID-19, in which case they should stay at home)
  • call the maternity unit when you arrive outside the hospital; staff will meet you at the hospital entrance and give you a surgical mask to wear until you get to your room
  • if your partner is well, they can stay with you during labour
  • it is likely other support people and visitors will not be allowed.

Will I be able to hold and feed my baby?

If you are sick with COVID-19, you should still be able to hold and feed your baby if you are well enough. Your midwife will show you how to protect your baby.

There is no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread through breast milk. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks.

Whichever way you choose to feed, you will need to:

  • wash and dry your hands well (or use alcohol-based hand rub) before touching your baby, breast pump or any other feeding equipment
  • wear a facemask over your mouth and nose while holding or feeding your baby.

If you express breast milk in hospital, use a breast pump that can be cleaned carefully after each use.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about COVID-19 and pregnancy / childbirth, talk with your doctor or midwife or go to the following groups for information:

Last update: 15 Jun 2020 11:28am

Who needs to quarantine?

You must quarantine for 14 days if you:

  1. Have arrived in Australia*
  2. Have arrived in Tasmania**
  3. Have been in ‘close contact’ with a confirmed case.

*Every person arriving in Australia from overseas is required to enter a 14 day period of quarantine at their point of arrival into Australia.

**Every person arriving in Tasmania, including Tasmanian residents, (with the exception of Essential Travellers and eligible maritime crew) is required to enter a 14 day period of quarantine. Tasmanian residents must undertake their 14 days quarantine at their residence. Non-Tasmanian residents and people who have returned from international travel or a cruise ship in the last 14 days will be required to undertake their quarantine in Government provided accommodation.

See Coming to Tasmania for more information on Tasmanian border restrictions and quarantine requirements.

What does ‘quarantine’ mean?

During the 14 days of quarantine, you must stay at home or in your accommodation, except to access important, arranged medical care. Don’t go to public places, including work, school, childcare, university, shops or attend public gatherings. Only people who usually live with you should be in the home. Do not see visitors.

What do I need to do?

If you’ve been told to quarantine and are not required to stay in government provided accommodation, you must stay at your home or accommodation (unless you need medical care).

You cannot attend public places, including:

  • work
  • supermarkets and chemists
  • school, childcare, university
  • places of worship.

Only people who usually live with you should be in your home. Don’t have visitors, even if they are in quarantine as well. Let your family, friends and neighbours know you are in quarantine and tell them not to visit. Consider putting a note on your door to let people know.

If you are in a hotel, avoid contact with other guests and staff.

How long do I need to be in quarantine?

You need to be in quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Tasmania. See When can I leave quarantine? for more information.

If you don’t develop any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in that time, you can stop your quarantine and return to your normal daily activities including going to work or school. You don’t need a clearance certificate to return to work or school.

If you meet the criteria for Essential Traveller status you may be exempted from the 14 day quarantine requirement but you must still comply with the listed quarantine conditions in the direction made by the Director of Health under Section 16 of the Public Health Act 1997.

Why do you have to quarantine for 14 days?

If you have been required to quarantine it is because you might become unwell with coronavirus. It can take up to 14 days for people who have been infected with the virus to become sick, and it’s possible to spread the virus to others 48 hours before you feel sick.

Quarantine is very important to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Tasmania. If you have been told to quarantine at home, you must do so. Breaching the quarantine process may incur a penalty of up to $16,800 or face the possibility of up to six months jail time.

You should monitor your health during this time, and call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 if you begin to feel unwell.

See Quarantine FAQs for more information.

Does a person required to undertake 14 days isolation need to complete this period if they return a negative test result in this time?

Yes, because the groups of people in Tasmania who are subject to the 14 day quarantine requirements are considered to be at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 at any point within the relevant 14 day period. Even if they return a negative test result within this time, this does not guarantee that they will not develop the disease at a later point within the 14 day period.

Currently there are directions in place that specify a number of different groups of people are required to complete a 14 day quarantine period. Some of these groups are required to stay in government provided accommodation while others are permitted to complete their quarantine period at home.

These groups of people are required to complete a full 14 days quarantine because they are a high risk of developing COVID-19 during the 14 day period, and they represent a risk to public health because of the possibility they may transmit COVID-19 to others before they are aware they have the disease.

These groups are:

  • People arriving into Tasmania from a departure point outside of Tasmania; and
  • People who have been directed to quarantine because they are a close contact of a confirmed case.

The only situation where someone who has been directed to self-isolate can stop doing so, is where they are tested because they are displaying symptoms and meet the relevant testing criteria, but are not a close contact of a confirmed case. In this case, when they return a negative test result for COVID-19 they would be notified that they are no longer required to self-isolate.

How to travel home to quarantine if you need to use public transport

When travelling to your home to start your quarantine period, use private transport if you can, to protect others, and go straight there.

If you need to use public transport (buses, taxis, ride-hail services), you must:

  • Wear a surgical facemask, if you can.
  • Wash your hands before boarding and after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.
  • Try to keep away from others, especially elderly people.
  • Keep your hands to yourself as much as possible; minimise the things you touch.
  • Avoid direct contact with other passengers and drivers.
  • Cough / sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow; and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

See Quarantine FAQs for more information.

Looking after your normal health needs with your doctor

It is important that Tasmanians continue to access their usual health care so they remain well during the COVID-19 pandemic. General practices are still open but you may notice some differences being made to keep everyone safe. Phone your general practice to find out their arrangements.

You may be offered telehealth. This means that you can have your consultation by phone or video-conference where it is clinically appropriate.

Face-to-face appointments are still available and necessary in some instances.

When you make your appointment, the practice will provide you instructions on how they are running their face-to-face appointments.

Changes to keep everyone safe may include things like:

  • Asking you to stay in your car when you arrive to support your physical distancing
  • Providing instructions on wearing a mask if it is needed
  • Running fever and respiratory clinics separate to other general practice appointments

Changes of this type allow you and others to access advice from your usual health care providers in a safe manner during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Look after yourself and your mind

Being confined to your home can cause boredom and stress. Look after yourself and others by:

  • Talking with family and friends.
  • Reflecting on how you have coped with difficult situations in the past and reassuring yourself that you will cope with this situation too. Remember that quarantine won’t last for long.
  • Exercising regularly. Consider exercise DVDs, dancing, floor exercises, yoga, walking around the backyard or using home exercise equipment. Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress and boredom and stay healthy.
  • Keeping in touch with family members and friends by telephone, email or social media.
  • Keeping up a normal daily routine as much as possible.
  • Working from home, if possible.

See Coping with quarantine to understand what to expect, how to look after yourself and others, and where to get help.

I have information/concerns about non-compliance with quarantine requirements

It’s every Tasmanian’s role to comply with the rules to keep Tasmania safe.

If you have information or concerns regarding non-compliance with quarantine requirements, you can report it by filling out this form.

Last update: 02 Jul 2020 4:15pm

Widespread testing is vital to track and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

It is recommended that people with 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.

Testing is also being encouraged for people who fall into the following criteria:

  • All persons presenting with respiratory symptoms, or with history of recent respiratory symptoms (within the last 7 days)
  • Healthcare workers displaying symptoms or healthcare workers without symptoms. Household members of healthcare and aged care workers who are displaying symptoms are also encouraged to be tested
  • Close contacts of confirmed cases between days 10-12 of quarantine period
  • Non-essential travellers between days 10-12 of quarantine period.

In line with national guidelines, it is no longer recommended that patients being discharged from hospitals to residential aged care facilities are tested, if asymptomatic.

What does the test involve?

The COVID-19 test involves a healthcare worker taking samples with a swab from your nose and throat. The swabs will be sent away for testing.

To protect themselves when they are in close contact with you, healthcare workers will wear protective equipment, including a facemask and safety goggles.

Where can I be tested?

While some testing sites require bookings to be made, a limited number of mobile sites can provide for drive up testing without booking.

Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics

These clinics are best for people at higher risk of having COVID-19, 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.

The Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics provide sample collection (testing) services only. Staff at the clinics do not provide health assessments or management of symptoms.

Results are usually provided within 48 hours.

These clinics will test children under 18.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

DatesLocationBookingsNotes
Ongoing

Hobart

Launceston

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 dailyDevonport, East Devonport Recreation Centre (67 Caroline Street)

Burnie, West Park, 'The Point' (10 Bass Highway)
No booking required

Mobile testing clinics

Coronavirus testing in rural and regional areas will be available in some communities through our mobile testing clinics.

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

Other testing options

These clinics are for people who have mild-to-moderate cold and flu symptoms. The clinics provide assessment, testing (if needed), and initial treatment of symptoms.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

These clinics will test children under 18.

Results are usually provided within 2-4 days. For more information and to book an appointment, go to the Primary Health Tasmania website.

It is a good idea to discuss testing with your usual GP.

Some GPs are doing COVID-19 sample collection/testing themselves; others may see you via telehealth and refer you for testing if required or suggest you make an appointment. GPs may charge for a consultation.

You will need to check with your GP if they test children under 18.

Results are usually provided within 2-4 days.

Do you have a disability that might affect you being tested?

Please let your GP or the Public Health Hotline know if you have access difficulties so they can refer you to the most appropriate clinic or arrange an alternative testing process.

Travelling to your testing appointment

It’s important to protect others.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms and there is a higher risk of you having COVID-19, please don’t travel to the clinic by bus, taxi or ride-sharing service. People at higher risk of having COVID-19 include:

  • a close contact of a confirmed case in the last 14 days
  • people who have recently travelled outside Tasmania in the past 14 days
  • symptomatic health or aged care workers.

If you don’t have your own transport, tell your GP or the Public Health Hotline when you make your appointment and ask for help getting to the testing clinic.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms but are not at higher risk, then it’s best to travel by private car but it’s OK to travel by public transport (bus, taxis or rideshare etc). When travelling to get tested:

  • if you have one, wear a facemask to protect others
  • before leaving home, make sure you and people travelling with you wash their hands well, with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub if hands are not visibly dirty)
  • maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5m between people
  • remember cough/sneeze etiquette (sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing)
  • go straight to the GP or testing clinic – don't stop on the way there or back.

I’m sick and have been tested for COVID-19. What should I do?

While you wait for your results it is highly recommended that you:

  • Stay at home. Self-isolate at home while you wait for your results and don’t go to work, school, shops or any other social gatherings.
    • If you need help with supplies or essential tasks outside your home, ask a friend or family member to help. Tell them to leave supplies at your door. If don’t have someone to help you, call the Public Health Hotline for support.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow. Put used tissues in the rubbish straight away and wash your hands.
  • Keep 1.5 metres (two large steps) away from other people or wear a mask. If you share your home, consider if you or other members of your household can stay elsewhere, especially if they are elderly or have underlying medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease. If this isn’t possible:
    • Stay at least 1.5 metres (two big steps) away from other household members. Wear a facemask if you need to be closer to household members.
    • Sleep in a separate bed and use a separate bathroom if you can.
    • Keep personal items (like towels, face washers and toothbrushes) separate.
    • Do not share food or drinks.
    • Stay away from shared spaces, like the kitchen (a shared garden is okay).
  • Do not have visitors while in self-isolation (even if they are also in self-isolation or quarantine). Tell family, friends and neighbours not to visit. Consider putting a note on your door to let people know.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (alcohol-based hand rub is OK if your hands do not look dirty). Viruses can survive for a short time on surfaces and spread through hand contact.
  • Know when and how to seek further help.
    • If you get very sick or have trouble breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Tell them you may have COVID-19.
    • If you feel stressed or anxious while you wait for your results, talk with someone. Lifeline has set up a new service to help Tasmanians effected by COVID-19. Call 1800 984 434 from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, 7 days.

See I've been tested for COVID-19. Now what? for more information.

I'm not sick/in quarantine, but I've been tested for COVID-19. What do I need to do?

Sometimes, Public Health Services will ask people to agree to get tested even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and are not in quarantine.

If this is you, you don’t need to self-isolate while you wait for the result.

You can go about your normal daily routine and continue to follow the rules in place for the whole community. See I've been tested but I'm not sick or in quarantine. Now what? for more information.

How will I find out my COVID-19 test result?

If you were tested at a Tasmanian Health Service Respiratory Clinic and your result is negative, you will either get a text message from ‘Tas Health’ or, if you don’t have a mobile phone or ask not to be notified by text, you will receive a phone call to inform you of your result.

If your result is negative, you do not need to self-isolate any longer unless Public Health has told you to stay in quarantine because you might have been exposed to the virus. If you are still sick you should still protect others from whatever germ is causing your illness. Stay at home as much as you can.

You should still follow the rules in place for the whole community to slow the spread of illness.

If your result is positive, Public Health Services will phone you to talk about the next steps.

If you have any questions or need advice about your test result, phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. Listen to the menu options and select the ‘Calling in relation to your test results’ option.

If you were tested by your GP or at a GP-led Respiratory Clinic, they will contact you directly with positive and negative results. If your result is positive, Public Health Services will also phone you to talk about the next steps.

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.

What if I’m not eligible for Medicare?

People from overseas, such as travellers and people with temporary visas, who get sick in Australia and are not eligible for Medicare often have health or travel insurance.

For people who do not have adequate insurance, the Tasmanian Government will waive the costs of treatment and testing for COVID-19 provided by Tasmanian Government services. This includes waiving costs for ambulance transfers for people suspected to have COVID-19 who are taken to Tasmanian public hospitals for assessment. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure costs of services does not stop people from overseas with symptoms of COVID-19 seeking early medical advice.

People not covered by Medicare who have cold or flu-like symptoms will be seen and tested (if needed) at no cost at a GP-led respiratory clinic.

People not covered by Medicare who see their local GP should discuss the cost of services with the provider.

Last update: 22 Jun 2020 1:23pm

Prevent the spread

Personal hygiene is an important protection against COVID-19 and all respiratory illnesses. You can help slow the spread of illness by:

  • washing your hands often with soap and warm, running water (or alcohol-base hand rub), especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • using a tissue (or flexed elbow if a tissue is not readily available) to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then putting the tissue in the rubbish
  • keeping two large steps from others if you can, when you are out in public
  • contacting your GP or the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to be tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms of fever, runny nose, cough, sore or itchy throat, or shortness of breath
  • wearing a facemask if you are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms and need to be around other people (for example, to access arranged medical care)

Hand hygiene

Practising good hand hygiene is your best defence.

How to wash

  • Use soap and warm, running water if you can.
  • Make sure the soap and water get on your whole hand – palms, backs of hands, thumbs, fingertips, wrists and the webbing between your fingers.
  • Rub your hands for 15–20 seconds, or for as long as it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song slowly.
  • Rinse and dry well.

When to wash

  • After coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.
  • Before touching your face, especially your mouth, lips, nose, eyes.
  • Before eating, drinking, preparing food/drinks.
  • After caring for someone who is unwell.
  • After going to the toilet.
  • After handling money, especially if you’re eating or handling food.

Hand sanitiser

If the product is labelled and/or promoted as providing a therapeutic benefit (claims that it kills specific organisms or is to be used in clinics or hospitals) then it needs to be Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or made to an approved recipe under the TGA exemption.

A more detailed explanation can be found on the TGA website.

Watch out for inappropriate claims

The TGA enforces restrictions on the types of claims that are allowed to be made on the labels and in promotional material for hand sanitisers that it regulates. For example, the label or an advertisement for hand sanitiser cannot claim to help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been approved for those claims.

If a hand sanitiser claims to be "suitable for use in medical and health services", it must either be regulated by the TGA, or it must meet specified formulation, manufacturing, labelling and advertising requirements. Hand sanitisers that are regulated by the TGA will have an AUST R number included on the label.

If a hand sanitiser claims to kill specific organisms (eg E.coli or viruses), it is required to be regulated by the TGA and assessed for safety, quality and effectiveness. If a hand sanitiser makes these claims and it does not have an AUST R number on the label, it is likely to be a non-compliant product that has not been assessed by the TGA.

General household and workplace cleaning

Cleaning is an important way to slow the spread of viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.

For frequently touched surfaces like doorhandles, tabletops, desks, light switches, railings, shared keyboards and mice, taps and handles:

  • Clean these surfaces frequently, making sure you remove any visible dirt and organic matter so that the disinfectant can work well.
  • Regularly wipe the surface using your normal household or workplace detergent/disinfectant, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.

Surfaces that are less often touched:

  • Clean these surfaces at least when they start to look dusty or dirty and immediately after any spillage or contamination.
  • Use your normal household or workplace detergent, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.
  • Damp mopping is better than dry.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing means increasing physical space between you and other people. It is important to exercise physical distancing because COVID-19 is most likely to spread by close contact with an infected person, or by contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

For more information see the Guide to physical distancing.