Know the symptoms
It is important that you can recognise the symptoms and how COVID-19 is transmitted. Reported symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties
The Federal Government’s Department of Health says transmission of COVID-19 may still be infectious up to 24 hours before symptoms appear and until at least 24 hours after symptoms resolve.
Use the Victorian Government’s Department of Human and Health Services (DHHS) self-assessment tool if you are unsure or concerned about COVID-19.
If you suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), please self-isolate and call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.
Practice good hygiene
The best way to protect yourself, your friends and family is to practice good hygiene, particularly for your hands and for your lungs.
- Washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds or more or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you enter or exit a space.
- Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Use a disposable tissue and discard. Alternatively use your elbow only if you must.
- Try not to touch your face, to minimise the virus entering your lungs.
- Regularly wipe surfaces and objects (e.g. telephones, keyboards) with disinfectant, as contamination on surfaces touched by staff and visitors is one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads. The virus can survive for several days on surfaces.
- Practice social distancing, maintaining 1.5m of distance away from people and limiting handshaking. A wave or a bow are respectful alternatives.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
- See a health care professional if you are unwell, and stay away from the workplace and other public places.
Taking these steps should be sufficient to address the main drivers of transmission:
- Contact with contaminated surfaces
- Coughing and sneezing
- Physical contact
Know where to go if you start to feel unwell
If you are feeling unwell, seek immediate medical attention. Call ahead to your GP or the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398, and they will provide appropriate instructions.
Portland District Health’s fever clinic is now open from 10am to 2pm until 29th March. From Monday the 30th of March it will be open from 9am to 5pm. Please call ahead on 03 5521 0387
You can also go to a specific assessment centre, which have been established. Please see the full DHHS list here.
Be mindful of fake news and fake remedies
The Victorian Government’s DHHS is providing accurate, up-to-date information on what is happening in Victoria, and what steps you can take to prepare. Please take your information from this and other official sites.
However, while it is important to remain informed about what is happening with COVID-19, be aware that reading extensive/live coverage about it may make you feel anxious and stressed.
There are a lot of videos and stories on social media on remedies to boost your immunity to COVID-19. Unfortunately, the majority of these are fake, and you should always triple-check whether the sources on any remedies are verified.
Also remember to find good news stories. While there are many stories about the apocalyptic emptying of shelves at the supermarkets, communities are also banding together with acts of kindness to make sure everybody is doing okay.
Reconsider your events and travel plans
The Federal Government has announced a ban on any gatherings above 500 people. At Portland District Healh, we are assessing all events on a case by case basis.
For events which go ahead, try to provide remote access options and ask people at additional risk of infection to attend remotely. All events should follow the same hygiene steps as listed above, and provide all necessary supplies to assist people doing so.
On domestic travel, we recommend that you limit travel unless it is necessary, including air travel or extended travel by bus or train. We suggest replacing client meetings with telephone or video conferencing where appropriate.
International travel for work or personal purposes should be carefully planned or reconsidered. There is a risk of being held in quarantine, being unable to return to Australia, or being prohibited from certain places, for a period. As of 16 March 2020, all people returning or entering Australia from overseas are requested to self isolate for 14 days.
Reach out to communities at higher risk of infection
If you have friends or family who may be directly affected or considered at higher risk of COVID-19 such as the elderly or people with lower immunity, lung or heart conditions, make sure you check-in to see if they have all of their essentials.
It could be as simple as a short text, a phone call, or even dropping off a few essentials at their doorstep.
If you are at a higher risk of infection, create an action plan and ensure you have the necessary prescriptions from your doctor and adequate supply of in-date medication. The Lung Foundation has created a good resource on actions you can take.
If you are a disabled young person, the National Disability Insurance Agency has created Easy Read resources on what you can do.
How to provide information to children and young people (might need info on aging population also)
If you are a youth worker or work with children and young people directly, it is important that you inform them of what changes may be happening to your services.
Here are a few tips in providing information:
- Remain calm and reassuring. Be factual and keep calm about the situation and it will help calm others.
- Speak up if you observe any racism occurring, including jokes that are racist or inappropriate by young people or other workers. It is important to role model good practice.
- Be available to talk and listen to young people if they have any concerns or anxieties related to COVID-19, or general health.
- Ensure children and young people know how to practice good hygiene. Put up some posters to help them see what you expect.
- Keep young people and parents or carers informed of what you are doing to keep everyone safe.
This could mean making some changes for your service:
- Before any activity, check if participants have travelled overseas, or had contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
- If they have, you should request they not participate in person, and consider if there is an online option for participation.
- Put up family-friendly signs informing people about how to practice good hygiene.
- Supply plenty of soap, water and tissues and encourage all program and meeting participants to practice good hygiene.
Consider how you might deliver services remotely
If you are a young person supported by a youth worker, check in with your local youth services provider about any changes which might be happening.
If you work for a service, start implementing procedures which reduce the risk of transmission with your clients. This could mean conducting more meetings, consultations and case visits over the phone, Skype or Zoom.
We recommend trailing changes for a couple of days a week, in case a lock-down does occur.
If you’re not sure where to start on how to start with Digital Youth Work, Victoria University has collaborated globally in the Youth Work e-Learning Partnership to create a module in their “Youth Work and You” resource.
More helpful resources
- Victorian Government’s information and advice about COVID-19
- Federal Government’s information and advice on COVID-19
- Victorian Government DHHS Self-Assessment Tool
- Victorian Government DHHS – Reduce your risk with these 10 tips
- Lung Foundation Australia – Advice for people living with lung condition
- National Disability Insurance Agency – COVID-19 information
- KidsHealth – How to Talk to Your Child
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Talking with Children
- Digital Youth Work – Youth Work and You
- How to Strengthen Young People Against Anxiety After News of a World Trauma
These are testing times for our community.
Stay safe. Self-isolate if you are concerned about your health.
Follow the instructions of health authorities.