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COVID-19 is disease caused by a coronavirus (SARS-CoV2), which until late 2019 had not previously been identified in humans.1

Page last updated 16 November 2023

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.

Commonly asked questions

Sources & Citations

1. NSW Health COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

2. 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? (

4. WHO – COVID-19 Dashboard.

5. NSW Govt. Critical Intelligence Unit.

6. CDC – Similarities & Differences between Flu & COVID-19.

7. WHO. 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.

MAT-AU-2102057  Date of preparation September 2021