Around four in every five people who contract COVID-19 recover without needing to go to hospital. There is a range of symptoms and severity. Symptoms may include fever, dry cough, productive cough (less common), headache, abdominal pain with diarrhoea, loss of sense of smell, reduced appetite, aching muscles and fatigue.
Our greatest concern is that there may be a deterioration with shortness of breath due to viral pneumonia. This usually occurs around day 5 to 8 following the onset of symptoms and may require hospital admission. Around 1 in 5 of people with COVID-19 need to be admitted to hospital. This worsening may occur even after there has been an improvement in symptoms.
There may be another more serious deterioration and worsening breathing difficulties around day 12 following the onset of symptoms. This may require treatment in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and may include ventilation. Around 5% (1 in 20) of total cases need ICU treatment. Those with more severe symptoms may be unwell for three weeks or more before recovering.
Those who are at increased risk of becoming very unwell with COVID-19 are those who are older and/or those with chronic disease such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and cancer.
Isolation - a person needs to isolate if they have or are suspected to have COVID-19.
Steps you need to take in isolation
If you are not at home when you find out you have COVID-19, you must go straight home. You cannot stop anywhere, not even to buy medicine or groceries. Where possible, use personal transport such as a private car.
You must stay isolated until your public health authority advises you are safe to leave. If you leave isolation without permission you may face criminal charges or a fine.
Isolation means you:
You should tell your public health unit before leaving your house if possible. If you leave, you must wear a mask.
If you live in a house, you may go into your garden or courtyard. You can go onto your balcony if you live in an apartment or are staying in a hotel.
Quarantine - Quarantine is when you are well but may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. If this happens they will be required to isolate from other people to prevent the spread of the virus. The quarantine period is 14 days from when you may have been in contact with the virus.
If a public health authority directs you to, you must go into a mandatory 14-day period of quarantine. During this time they will monitor you.
You will need to go into quarantine if you:
If you remain well after 14 days you will be able to leave quarantine. If you develop symptoms during this time you will need a test for COVID-19. Even if you test negative you must stay in quarantine for the full 14 days.
If you test positive you will need to go into isolation. Anyone who has been in your household is a close contact and must then go into quarantine.
If you have recovered, the Public Health Unit will advise when you are permitted to be released from isolation.
In general, you can be released if:
· at least 10 days have passed since the onset of first symptoms
· AND at least 72 hours have passed since the resolution of symptoms.
If you are a healthcare or aged care worker, you additionally require:
· No fever for 48 hours
· AND no symptoms for 24 hours
· AND at least seven days since onset of first symptoms
· AND two negative tests, collected at least 24 hours apart, after feeling well.
The Public Health Unit will write to your GP advising that you may be released from isolation. You will be asked to make an appointment with your GP after seven days to check on your recovery. You will also be invited to have a blood test to check your antibody levels. This test is still under development so your blood will be stored until the test is ready.