We have compiled a number of answers about what COVID-19 is, visiting the hospital and how to reduce the spread within the community.

COVID-19 video series

We have produced a series of videos on COVID-19, which contains frequently asked questions and information for people living with comorbidities such as diabetes, asthma, lung disease, mental health conditions and more. There are also videos made for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. You can view the entire COVID-19 playlist on YouTube.

I think I have coronavirus, should I come to the hospital?

You should only come to the hospital if you meet the criteria - see more information on our screening clinic and results page.

If you are still unsure of whether you should get tested for COVID-19, please contact the Department of Health and Human Services hotline on 1800 675 398. Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness in animals or humans. These coronaviruses include the common cold and more severe diseases like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

COVID-19 is a new form of coronavirus, which causes respiratory symptoms, similar to the flu.

Most people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have only experienced a mild illness and recovered, however the illness can be more severe for others, including vulnerable populations such as the elderly.

The risk of contracting COVID-19 can be reduced through proper hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Those with symptoms of COVID-19 are most likely to have a fever (above 37.5 degrees Celsius) and may have respiratory symptoms like a sore throat, cough or shortness of breath. Of those who are admitted to hospital, some do develop serious illness.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Health authorities around the world are working hard to figure out how the COVID-19 virus spreads. Health authorities around the world believe the virus is spread from close contact with an infected person, mostly through face-to-face interactions or between members of the same household and people we work closely with. Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread by people with symptoms when they cough or sneeze. That’s why the best way to protect others is to practise physical distancing (keep at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others) and good personal hygiene (wash hands often and cough or sneeze into an elbow or tissue).

People may also pick up coronavirus (COVID-19) from surfaces contaminated by a person with the infection.

How do I reduce my risk of contracting COVID-19?

Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are two terms that you may have heard of when you have heard about how to reduce your risk of COVID-19. This refers to washing your hands properly and often, and using proper sneezing and coughing practices (covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or coughing or sneezing into your upper sleeve and elbow).

Here are someways you can reduce your risk of getting COVID-19:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol based hand rub
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth
  • Avoid being around other people who you know are unwell
  • Practice and encourage others to practice respiratory etiquette; that is,cover your mouth and nose with your elbow while coughing or sneezing, or use a tissue and dispose of it, and wash your hands after
  • Try to stay 1.5 metres apart from other people when you are sharing the same confined space
  • Avoid attending public gatherings or crowded places

Watch our video with RMH ICU Clinical Nurse Manager Dan on how you can protect yourself and others from the novel coronavirus:

I want to visit my friend or relative at the Royal Melbourne Hospital or Melbourne Health-related sites and they do not have COVID-19. Can I visit?

Visitors will not be permitted at all Royal Melbourne Hospital sites except if required as an essential caregiver.

Exceptions are in place for special circumstances and visitors of palliative care patients.

These changes are in response to the reintroduction of stage 3 restrictions and are important to maintain the health and safety of our employees, patients and consumers.

Where possible phone calls and video chat are encouraged between patients and consumers and visitors.

I have been told to self-isolate for 14 days. Should I attend the hospital?

No, you should not attend the hospital.

You can read more about COVID-19 isolation on the Australian Government Department of Health website.

A close contact of mine is self-isolating. Should I be tested for COVID-19? Do I have to self-isolate?

If anyone, including RMH staff members, has been in contact with someone who is in self-isolation (eg household member) due to overseas travel or being a contact of a known COVID-19 case and the household member has not been diagnosed with COVID-19, the person is not required to remain off work or to be tested.

If this contact develops COVID-19 , then the person in contact with the diagnosed is required to self-isolate for 14 days. The person does not require testing unless they become symptomatic (see Screening Clinic criteria above). Anyone who is required to self-isolate because of close contact with a COVID19 case will be informed by the Department of Health and Human Services that they are a contact. Otherwise, self-isolation is only required for people who have returned from anywhere overseas since 16th March or from high risk countries (China, South Korea, Italy or Iran) in the past 14 days.