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COVID-19 commonly asked questions

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COVID-19 commonly asked questions

Last updated 19 January 2022

Do you have a question about COVID-19?

ACD Tas has put together some commonly asked questions to help you and your family stay safe and informed.

What are COVID-19 symptoms and where can I get a test? Is the Omicron variant different?

COVID-19 cases are rising rapidly across the country as most Australian states wind back borders and public health order restrictions.

Omicron is now the dominant variant in parts of Australia and other countries, having overtaken Delta, which was previously considered to be the greatest threat. Health authorities are still assessing the risk of severe illness and death from Omicron since it was first detected in November.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 symptoms are wide-ranging and are experienced differently by each person. Some people may experience one symptom or several.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever (a temperature of 37.5˚C or higher)
  • chills or night sweats
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • difficulty breathing
  • headache
  • muscle pain (myalgia)
  • loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
  • distortion of sense of taste (dysgeusia)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • runny nose
  • acute blocked nose (congestion).

There are other symptoms that are uncommon. These include chest pain, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis.

Are there different symptoms associated with the Omicron variant?

So far, there is no evidence that people who contract the Omicron variant of COVID-19 will display different symptoms.

However, work is ongoing to better understand the newest variant of the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Are my symptoms the flu, a cold or allergies?

Both COVID-19 and the flu are infections and can cause respiratory symptoms which could lead to a sore throat, runny nose and cough, as well as a fever. There are a few differences between the two. Muscle pains and headaches being more associated with the ‘flu. However, the only way to know if a person has COVID-19 is by getting a test.

Allergies can also have similar symptoms to COVID-19, however there are some key differences between the two. Fever is a common symptom of COVID-19, but does not occur with allergies. Allergy symptoms can also include itchy or watery eyes, and sneezing.

How long before COVID symptoms show?

Symptoms of COVID-19 can appear between 1 to 14 days after a person is exposed to the virus. A person with COVID-19 can also be asymptomatic, meaning they do not feel or show any symptoms but can still be infectious to others.

There are indications that COVID-19 can be transmissible up to three days prior to a person showing symptoms.

Australia’s deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael Kidd, says the best way to try to prevent long COVID is through vaccination.

“What we know is [that] vaccination is one of the ways of reducing the risk of developing long COVID,” he said.

“As well as providing all the other benefits of vaccination, of reducing the risk of you being infected with COVID-19, reducing the risk of transmitting COVID-19 to other people and, of course, dramatically reducing the risk of becoming seriously unwell or requiring hospitalisation with COVID-19.”

When should I get a COVID-19 test?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get a test as soon as possible, even if the symptoms are mild.

You may also be directed to have a COVID-19 test if you are a close contact of someone who has the virus. A close contact is someone who has had prolonged contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case during their infectious period, creating a high risk for transmission. This could be a person who is a household contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, or someone who has spent more than four hours with a confirmed case in a house, accommodation or care facility setting. A close contact can also be someone that has spent 4 hours at the same site, workplace or venue as a case during a significant transmission event.

For more information see the Tasmanian government’s Advice for case contacts.

National health guidelines state that, if you test negative for COVID-19 but still have symptoms, you should stay home until the symptoms stop. If you have had a COVID-19 vaccine, you should still get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

Anyone who is symptomatic or a close contact of a COVID-19 case must first test themselves with a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). You must register to receive a free RAT, and you can do that by calling 1800 671 738 or on the Tasmanian Government’s Coronavirus website.  Free PCR tests will still be avaiable. Note that if you do not have COVID-19 symptoms and are not a close contact of someone who has COVID, you are not entitled to a free RAT or PCR test.

Where do I get a COVID-19 test near me?

Free PCR tests in Tasmania are available at:

  • Drives through testing clinics in Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie. Bookings are available at the Macquarie Point, Hobart and Launceston sites
  • Respiratory clinics in Hobart, Launceston and St Helens
  • Mobile testing clinics – there are currently no mobile testing clinics

Your local GP may also offer PCR testing, note that GPs may charge a consultation fee.

To book a PCR test phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 or visit the Tasmanian Government’s TAS COVID-19 testing locations.

RATs are sold at some supermarkets and pharmacies. RATs are also available free if you have symptoms or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

RATs can be obtained by registering using the RAT online registration form or by phoning 1800 671 738. You will be advised where to collect your RAT. If you can’t travel to a distribution centre, your RAT will be sent to you via courier.

In coming weeks, pharmacists will be distributing free RATs to specified concession card holders that are not symptomatic or close contacts. This will entitle the cardholder to 10 free RATs per year and the rollout of this initiative is expected to be in late January.

You can still get a free PCR test or you are symptomatic or a close contact and cannot get a RAT, bookings are recommended if you don’t want to queue and are available by phoning 1800 671 738 or visiting TAS COVID-19 testing locations.

If you want to book a PCR test with your GP, it is important that you call ahead and tell them about your symptoms and any possible exposure to the virus from travel or contacts.

How long does a COVID-19 test result take?

It may take up to two days to receive the results of your COVID-19 PCR test and, in busier states it may take longer. RAT test results take 15 minutes as they are self-administered.

How you receive your test result will depend on where you had your test.

After you have had your test, you must stay at home while you wait for your results and don’t go to work, school, shops or any other social gatherings.

If you need help with supplies or essential tasks outside your home, ask a friend or family member to help. Tell them to leave supplies at your door. If don’t have someone to help you, call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for support. A grant may be available if you have to miss work due to a direction from Public Health to isolate while waiting for a COVID-19 test result. Read more about Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants.

Do not have visitors while in isolation (even if they are also in isolation or quarantine). Tell family, friends and neighbours not to visit. Consider putting a note on your door to let people know.

If you become very unwell or have difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. Let the operator know you have had a COVID-19 test and are awaiting your test result.

If you feel stressed or anxious while you wait for your results, talk with someone. Lifeline has a dedicated service to help Tasmanians effected by COVID-19. Call 1800 984 434 from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.

 

What are the current quarantine and isolation requirements?

Take a look at this handy chart – Testing, quarantine and isolation plan for the latest guidelines from the Tasmanian Government.

NOTE: Positive cases released from isolation do not need to quarantine if they are re-exposed to a case in their household in the month after their diagnosis. After one month, cases should get retested if the develop symptoms and quarantine if a household member tests positive for COVID-19.

What happens if my rapid antigen test is positive, and what if it is negative?

If you record a positive result, you must register it on the Tasmanian Government’s coronavirus website using the RAT Positive Declaration Form, or by phoning 1800 671 738. There is no need to follow up with a PCR test unless you choose to have one.

If you don’t register your positive RAT, you won’t be able to receive medical assistance via the Covid at Home program, financial support, or pandemic leave.

If your RAT is negative, stay at home until your symptoms have stopped.

 

What should my close contacts do if I test positive to COVID-19?

You must tell your close contacts about your positive test result, and they must quarantine for 7 days from your test result, take a RAT as soon as possible and then again at 6 days. If the test result is negative, they no longer need to isolate after day 7, provided they are free of symptoms. If it is positive, they must register the result as above, and self-isolate for 7 days. If still showing symptoms they should continue to isolate until symptom free.

Some workplaces are entitled to exemptions if their workforce are considered essential workers. Workplaces must apply to Worksafe for these exemptions. To see a list of these industries and for more  information see  the Tasmanian Government’s Coronavirus website’s Temporary exemption from close contact quarantine for critical workers in critical industries page.

This article has compiled information from ABC News, the Tasmanian Government’s Coronavirus website, and the Australian Department of Health.

Have you got a COVID plan?

A Covid plan is some forward-thinking for your family to ensure you have the right support if something out of the ordinary happens due to Covid.

Check out our useful COVID template, My COVID Plan to help you put together a list of your supports, key and emergency contacts, and allied health providers in the one place.

Remember you can contact our Peer Network Hub Team on 1800 244 742 with any questions (Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM excluding public holidays).