Firstly, who actually needs to self-isolate?
All people who arrive in Australia, or think they may have been in close contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus, are required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Our family hasn’t been in contact with a confirmed carrier. Do we still need to self-isolate?
Technically no. However, the government has implemented several restrictions to slow the virus and save lives. The restrictions include:
- Social distancing. Keeping at least 1.5 metres away from other people
- Closure of public gathering places including pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas, religious places
- No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
- All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
- Avoid non-essential travel
- Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians
These are all focused on reducing social gatherings and therefore public exposure.
Families choosing to self-isolate: what does this involve?
Staying at home, minimising contact with others unless essential. This means no supermarket runs, playdates, family over for lunch. It's just the immediate family quarantined. However, it is essential to good mental wellbeing that people stay fit and healthy during self-isolation. Read here for great tips.
What's happening with the kids?
Many families are proactively choosing to home-isolate - and are keeping children at home.
School holidays have been brought forward in VIC, so kids are no longer attending school. Schools have closed in SA. Universities have implemented online learning. NSW primary schools are open, predominantly to allow for health workers to drop kids off at school so they can work. Many other parents are working from home. Some schools have set up Google Classrooms and assigned home schooling lesson.
Childcare centres are currently still open, however many parents are keeping their kids at home to minimise public exposure.
To find out the latest school and daycare updates, contact the centre directly.
What if you or other family members develop coronavirus symptoms?
The official advice to monitor yourself for symptoms while in home isolation are to watch for:
- shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
- other early symptoms to watch for are chills, body aches, sore throat, headache and runny nose, muscle pain, or diarrhoea.
If you or someone else in home isolation develops severe symptoms and it is a medical emergency (e.g. shortness of breath at rest or difficulty breathing) you should phone 000. Tell the ambulance staff that you are in home isolation for COVID-19.
If the symptoms are less serious you should:
- Call your doctor or healthdirect on 1800 022 222. When you call, tell them where you have travelled, or that you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19.
- Visit your local Emergency Department. When you arrive, immediately tell staff where you have travelled, or that you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19.
When you have an appointment you should travel directly to the medical centre or emergency department and wear a surgical mask.
If you develop symptoms, you should also make sure you wear a surgical mask while in the presence of other household members, even if they are also in home isolation.
What to do if you are ill and have family at home?
If you have symptoms, you should separate yourself from the other people in your home, as much as possible. This includes avoiding shared or communal areas, wearing a surgical mask when moving through these areas, using a separate bathroom, if available and avoiding contact with the vulnerable – infants, people who are at risk of severe disease, such as elderly people and those who have heart, lung or kidney conditions, and diabetes.
Teach your family good hand washing hygiene
If the kids skimp on their handwashing, now is the time to change that. People should wash hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially:
- before entering an area used by other people
- after using the bathroom
- after coughing or sneezing (dispose of tissues promptly after use)
- before putting on and after removing face masks. Alternatively, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if your hands are not visibly dirty.
Can we go for a walk to the park or into the garden?
The official advice for the general public (ie not high risk, returned from overseas recently or been in contact with an ill person) is to stay 1.5 metres away from others. So technically, yes, as long as you and your family are that safe distance, you can leave the house to do exercise or go for a walk.
In terms of park play, there are no official guidelines. However, research shows the virus can survive on surfaces up to 72 hours. You can also leave the house to go for a walk or exercise outdoors if you are well and you stay away from other people.
If you or family are in self-isolation because you’re high risk, recently returned from overseas or been in contact with someone ill, you can still go into your private garden or courtyard.
Department of Health guidelines advise “wearing a surgical mask if there is anyone there who is not also in home isolation. If you live in an apartment you can go onto your private balcony if you have one. You can go into common garden areas while wearing a surgical mask. Please go quickly through any common areas on the way there.”