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Disease

COVID-19

Page last updated on 14 June 2022

COVID-19 is disease caused by a coronavirus (SARS-CoV2), which until late 2019 had not previously been identified in humans.1 It is a highly contagious respiratory illness which has spread rapidly around the world. On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic.

The disease can range from mild illness to pneumonia.2  Most people will recover, however, in severe cases pneumonia develops and this can be fatal.  The virus can spread from an infected person's mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing, or breathe heavily.3

Because COVID-19 is a new disease there is very little existing immunity in our community. This means that COVID-19 can spread widely and quickly. People may be highly infectious before their symptoms show. Even people with mild or no symptoms can spread COVID-19.1 Social distancing, good hygiene, contact tracing, testing and vaccination are preventative measures we currently have to manage the disease. 

As of September 2021, there has been over 232 million confirmed cases globally of COVID-19 and over 4.7 million deaths reported to the World Health Organisation.4  In Australia there has been over 100,000 confirmed cases and over 1,200 deaths.

Key disease information

How did the virus get the name ‘Coronavirus’?

Coronaviruses have crown-like spikes protruding from their surface.  The word ‘corona’ is Latin for crown– hence these viruses are called coronaviruses. The coronavirus responsible for causing COVID-19 is called SARS-CoV2.

How can I help prevent the transmission of COVID-19?

To help protect yourself and others:2

  • Practice good hygiene – wash hands often with soap or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth
  • Clean & disinfect surfaces and objects which are touched or handled often, such as benchtops, doorknobs, mobile phones, wallets
  • Maintain physical distancing by staying at least 1.5meters away from other people & avoid crowded places
  • Wear masks when physical distancing not possible or as directed by health authorities
  • Cover your mouth/nose when you sneeze or cough
  • Understand the limits that apply at the time to essential & non-essential gatherings
  • Stay home if you feel unwell
  • If you have cold or flu like symptoms seek medical advice and get tested

VaccineHub offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice

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Sources & Citations

1. NSW Health COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.  
https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/frequently-asked-questions.aspx#what

2. What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19).  
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19

3. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): How is it transmitted? 
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): How is it transmitted? (who.int)

4. WHO – COVID-19 Dashboard. https://covid19.who.int/

5. NSW Govt. Critical Intelligence Unit.  
https://aci.health.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/critical-intelligence-unit/sars-cov-2-variants

6. CDC – Similarities & Differences between Flu & COVID-19. 
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm

7. WHO. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).  
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/coronavirus-disease-covid-19

8. Aust Govt. COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker. 
COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker | Australian Government Department of Health

9. CDC – Post-COVID Conditions. 
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/long-term-effects.html

MAT-AU-2102057  Date of preparation September 2021