Keeping yourself safe

Last update: 03 Jun 2020 10:35am

What is the risk of a companion animal contracting or spreading the coronavirus?

There is very little evidence that cats and dogs or any other common pet animal species can become infected with or develop disease or are able to effectively transmit the coronavirus.

The risk of coronavirus transmission to humans from fur or animal coats is assessed as low. However, animals in close proximity to infected humans may become contaminated and act as a vehicle (fomite) for carrying the coronavirus.

Depending on the animal housing environment, studies show that coronavirus survival on fur without any treatment is unlikely to exceed two days under room temperature and conditions extrapolated from limited studies on the closely related SARS CoV virus.

My animal may have come into contact with a person with COVID-19. What should I do?

It is recommended animals in contact with humans with COVID-19 should be washed immediately before entering any type of alternative accommodation including other households, boarding kennels, animal shelters and before a visit to the vet.

If contact with a human COVID-19 case has occurred, it is also recommended that people with adequate PPE transport the animal to the arranged destination for further treatment and care, ensuring appropriate hygiene procedures are also met.

Shampoo, soaps and detergents effectively applied, destroy the coronavirus. Any human shampoo or soap is fine for use on animals.

A hot detergent wash is recommended for cleaning pet bedding and other associated items.

Animal-human face contact should be minimised and appropriate PPE and hygiene procedures used according to the coronavirus risk context.

Hand hygiene is essential before and after handling your pets, as well as their food and water bowls.

Visits to veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels

Just like many other businesses, in the current climate, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels require an appointment before any visit and prefer payment by credit card. Physical distancing rules apply.

In the current situation, some veterinary services may not be available.

It is very important that the coronavirus risk status of the household is clearly communicated to veterinary clinics or alternative accommodation facilities before visiting so they can take appropriate measures.

A coronavirus risk assessment should be applied to species such as horses, livestock and birds to assess the risk of contamination and the need for decontamination.

This risk assessment is a series of questions:

  • Is there anyone in contact who has COVID in the last 2 days?
  • Is there any possible contact with a COVID contaminated situation?
  • Do I routinely touch, pat, cuddle the animal?
  • Is it practical to wash the animal?
  • Will washing adversely affect the health of the animals?

There is a potential coronavirus risk with ferrets and extra caution should be taken with this species if they have been exposed to an infected owner.

Where can I find more information?

Last update: 17 May 2020 10:09am

What is a close contact

A close contact is anyone who:

  • has had face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes (cumulative over the course of a week) with someone known to have COVID-19, while that person was or may have been infectious, including in the 48 hours before their symptoms started
  • shared a closed space (eg waiting room, classroom) for more than two hours with someone known to have COVID-19, while that person was or may have been infectious, including in the 48 hours before their symptoms started.

Close contacts do not include healthcare workers and other people who used infection control precautions, including the recommended personal protective equipment, while caring for someone with COVID-19.

Any other contact is deemed low risk.

Last update: 04 May 2020 8:07pm

The COVIDSafe app is an Australian Government initiative.

With your privacy protected by law, COVIDSafe keeps a secure note of other users you’ve been near to enhance response measures if someone is confirmed as a COVID-19 case.

Download COVIDSafe from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

For more information about the COVIDSafe app, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Last update: 14 Aug 2020 12:54pm

COVID-safe behaviours - 5 icons

COVID-safe behaviour keeps the community safe

We all have the opportunity and a responsibility to protect lives and livelihoods by maintaining ‘COVID-safe behaviours’ – it’s that simple and yet, incredibly effective.

As a community, we are all learning how to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. The threat from this virus will remain until a vaccine becomes available. This means that whilst we have been able to return to doing some things as normal there are a few restrictions and behaviours that we will have to keep up over the long term. Each and every Tasmanian has an important role to play. Our actions will determine Tasmania’s future, the protection of vulnerable people and the response to potential cases and outbreaks.

There are 5 key behaviours that we must all be aware of and follow, every day. These behaviours will ensure that we lower the risks and continue to save lives during the pandemic. Remember them, remind your family and friends about them and keep them up.

COVID-safe behaviour 1 – Stay at least 1.5 metres away from others.


The more space there is between you and others the harder it is for the virus, and germs generally, to move from one person to another. Stay 1.5 metres from others whenever you go out. Whether you are getting the groceries or meeting a friend for coffee, space saves lives. Minimising contact also means not hugging, kissing or shaking hands when you meet up with others not from your household. If everyone in the community practises physical distancing it will dramatically reduce the chances that any new cases will have had the opportunity to spread.

COVID-safe behaviour 2 – Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Use alcohol-based hand sanitiser when out and about.

Virus particles easily stick to our hands where they can be passed onto other people or objects we touch. Using soap and thoroughly lathering it on your hands and wrists for 20 seconds before washing it off under running water gets the virus off your hands. Hand washing can make a huge impact – the trick is to make sure you do it several times a day especially before and after eating, before you leave home and as soon as you return home. Warm water and soap are the most effective but hand sanitiser is recommended for when you are out and don’t have access to soap and water.

Take a moment to think about your hand washing habits (how often you wash, and how long you spend doing it). If each of us take just a few extra moments at the sink to wash our hands the potential benefits to community health are huge. Check out this handy guide to hand washing procedure.

COVID-safe behaviour 3 – Stay at home if you are unwell and always cover coughs and sneezes.

Now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant about not spreading illnesses to other people. Vulnerable people, older Tasmanians, businesses and really the entire community is reliant on people making sensible decisions when they feel unwell. We know that COVID-19 spreads when people are unwell and don’t take self-isolation seriously. If you feel sick, stay at home. Do not go to work, your place of study when sick with cold or flu like symptoms. Keeping our communities and workplaces safe relies upon people staying at home when unwell and them safely accessing healthcare options when needed.

It is easier than you think to spread illness to the broader community. Take a moment to think about all the places you usually go in a day, all the surfaces you touch, all the people you cross paths with at work/school, on public transport, at the supermarket and even just walking down the street. Each of those people then do the same things when going about their days. It is easy to see how a pandemic can quickly spread and the impacts on the health of our loved ones can be devastating. Staying at home when sick, saves lives. It also helps you better monitor your own health and symptoms if you take some time out at home.

COVID-safe behaviour 4 – Get tested for COVID-19 if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms.

Early detection of new cases of COVID-19 in Tasmania will keep us safe by preventing further spread in the community. As well as staying at home when if unwell we should get tested for COVID-19 anytime cold or flu-like symptoms are present. If lots of people with symptoms get tested it’s more likely that we will catch any new cases quickly. This protects everyone because anyone with the virus will get diagnosed quickly and their close contacts can be quickly identified. If we know when and where someone got sick, we can act quickly to stop the spread.

Testing is a really simple and easy process. You can call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to request a test or call your own GP for further advice. Once you have discussed your symptoms with a healthcare professional you will be given an appointment to have the test done in a location that is convenient and accessible for you. For more information specifically about being tested for COVID-19 in Tasmania, see Testing for COVID-19.

COVID-safe behaviour 5 – Be aware of, and follow, current gathering, business and travel restrictions.

Information about the situation and restrictions in Tasmania is updated every day. Knowing what is happening will help us all to make informed decisions for ourselves and our families. If you run a business or an office, sticking with these restrictions will help you protect your staff and your customers. As citizens we can protect businesses, health and the livelihoods of those in our community by being aware of our obligations and making sensible choices.

Things are slowly looking more normal again but there are still some restrictions in place. The current restrictions and risks are assessed every single day so we can rest assured that we are following the latest advice which is based on the best evidence available. As we all know, it’s easier to stick to rules when we understand what they are and what they are needed for. This website is updated every day with the latest. If you need to find out about something specific try using the search function to see what is available. The Public Health Hotline is also available to answer any questions you have; call 1800 671 738.

Remember that this is a collective effort and that every action we take matters.

If we all follow the 5 key behaviours, Tasmanians will be doing everything they can to look after those we love most and keep our community safe and strong.

Last update: 16 Jun 2020 3:41pm

Food safety

COVID-19 isn’t a foodborne illness. However, safe handling and preparation of food will help reduce the chance of picking up the illness through touching surfaces which have the virus on them. By being extra careful in following food safety advice you can help prevent the spread of disease.

Advice for when shopping and preparing food

  • Wipe your shopping trolley down. Use in-store wipes provided, or take your own.
  • Try not to touch your face when shopping for food and in other public places.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after shopping and before preparing food.
  • Use a hand sanitiser after leaving the store.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables under running water before eating.
  • You don’t need to use soap. This is usual food safety advice.
  • Cooking food makes it safe. Heat will kill germs.

Keeping safe at home

  • Before and after meals thoroughly clean food preparation surfaces like kitchen benches.
  • Wash hands before preparing food for yourself and others. Wash hands before and after eating.
  • Do not prepare food for others if you are unwell. This is important all the time to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Do not eat or share food with people who are unwell with COVID-19. This helps reduce risk of spreading the virus.

How the virus spreads

The virus most likely spreads through:

  • close contact with an infectious person
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze (if you are within 1.5 metres or two large steps of an infected person)
  • touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs, sink taps and tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.

TasWater

Drinking water supplied by TasWater is safe to drink. Disinfection processes for drinking water are designed and operated to manage pathogens, such as viruses. Conventional disinfection applied to inactivate the most resistant viruses will also inactivate COVID-19. No additional treatment is required and there is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted through drinking water. The safety of drinking water supplied to Tasmanians by TasWater is regulated by the Department of Health under a comprehensive legislative framework to ensure a consistent, reliable supply of safe, good quality drinking water.

Where a reticulated drinking water supply is available, this is the best and safest option. There is no need to buy bottled water. Water supply is an essential service and TasWater will continue to work with the Department to ensure that safe drinking water is delivered to your home at all times. Should the quality of your water change, then you will be advised about any restrictions on the safe use of your water. This is unlikely to occur and if it does, then it would not be COVID-19 related.

For more information see the Water Research Australia fact sheet for COVID-19.

Public drinking water fountains and bottle fill stations

Public drinking water supplies are safe to drink, however the surfaces around the fountain including the spout, button/leaver and nozzles could pose a risk for the transmission of COVID-19 and other germs.

  • Don’t place your mouth on the spout of the fountain or allow your water bottle to come into contact with the nozzle when refilling.
  • Test the water flow and let the water flow for 10 seconds to allow for fresh, clean water to come through prior to drinking.
  • If the fountain requires you to push a button or lever, clean the surface before and after, or use your elbow.
  • Clean your hands afterwards with an alcohol-based rub or wash them with soap and water.

The Department of Health will advise asset owners and managers carry out more frequent cleaning of drinking water fountains.

Drinking water safety

With the easing of restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, many facilities and services are starting to operate again; albeit in a reduced fashion. It is important to consider the safety of drinking water in buildings you manage and/or own.

Stagnant water is known to accumulate heavy metals over time to the point that the water does not meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines safe limits.

Public Health advises as part of regular maintenance, all outlets used for drinking water are flushed for at least five minutes to ensure fresh water from the mains supply is drawn through and safe for consumption. This is essential in buildings that have been wholly unoccupied or partially unoccupied during the restrictions.

This advice applies to managers/owners of multi-storey office buildings, hotels, accommodation and holiday shacks. For further information, contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.

What about reusable coffee cups provided by the customer?

Reusable cups provided by customers (commonly known as keep cups) have not been banned or prohibited.

Food businesses can still accept ‘keep cups’ if they choose to. Always check the cups are clean and not likely to cause cross-contamination and don’t accept/use a cup if it is unclean. It is also a good idea to get the customer to retain/hold onto the lid. Baristas should be mindful of the need to wash their hands frequently when preparing coffee and other drinks.

Last update: 21 Jul 2020 1:36pm

Gatherings at households – including shacks – are limited to up to 20 people at any one time, not including residents of the household. You should not visit others or have visitors to your home if you are unwell.

What is a gathering?

A gathering is the total number of people present in any single undivided space. All individuals – whether they are business operators, staff, volunteers, attendees, children or babies – are considered part of the gathering number.

Why do we have maximum gathering numbers?

Advice from Public Health Services is that a staged easing of restrictions should occur to monitor the transmission risk of COVID-19. This includes a gradual increase in gathering numbers. It is important to note that where the number of people permitted according to the density limit (one person per 2 square metres) is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

Read about the current restrictions on gatherings and Management of Premises Direction.

It is difficult to maintain physical distancing and effective hygiene measures in large public gatherings. Restricting gathering numbers reduces the likelihood of transmission and provides opportunities for the community to continue effective hygiene practices.

Are there any exceptions to the gathering limits?

The limits do not apply to the following specified premises, but the number of people on these premises should not exceed the total number specified in the occupancy permit for the premises under the Building Act 2016. The specified premises are:

  • Airports and premises used for public or commercial transport
  • Medical or health service facilities, including veterinary facilities
  • Disability or aged care facilities
  • Prisons, correctional facilities, youth justice centres
  • Courts or tribunals
  • Parliament
  • Schools, universities, education institutions, childcare facilities, child and family centres
  • Premises that deliver services and support to disadvantaged community members eg those providing homeless accommodation, boarding houses, emergency/social housing, child safety services, foodbanks, employment services, and migrant and refugee assistance
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces where people are transiting through
  • Emergency services.

What is the difference between indoor and outdoor gatherings?

An indoor space is any area, room or premises that is substantially enclosed by a roof and walls (this also applies to temporary structures, for example a marquee). Outdoor spaces are not enclosed by a roof or walls.

Do the limits apply to the entire venue or individual spaces?

For mixed use venues with multiple indoor or outdoor spaces, the gathering cap (250 people for indoor, or 500 people for outdoor) applies separately to each single undivided space. For example, a large hotel with multiple, separate indoor spaces (eg conference room, bar, restaurant, foyer, beer garden), is permitted to have up to 250 people for each of these spaces (the density limit applies).

What is meant by the maximum density limit?

The maximum density limit aims to prevent the crowding of people in a space. A premises must not have a density of more than 1 person per 2 square metres of floor space. This means an operator must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (indoor or outdoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 2 square metres of space for each person.

What is the 2 square metres per person rule?

The maximum number of people at a premises is limited by the floor space of the premises, as a minimum of 2 square metres of space is required for each attendee. This is known as the 2 square metre rule.

The maximum number of people allowed at a premises is the smaller number of either:

  • The maximum number of people for which there is 2 square metres per person
  • The maximum number gathering number specified for the type of venue/activity

How to apply the 2 square metres per person rule

To comply with the 2 square metre rule, measure the length and width of the floor space. Multiply the length by the width to calculate the area in square metres, and divide this by 2. The final number is the maximum number of people allowed in the premises (up to the maximum gathering size).

For example, in hospitality venues, the operator of a premises must not allow people to enter or stay on the premises (whether outdoor or indoor) if the size of the premises is insufficient to allow for 2 square metres of space for each person (the four square metre rule).

Where practicable, the operator should:

  • Ensure that staff and patrons are 1.5 metres away from each other. For groups of people seated at the same table, and for staff at times, this will not be practicable.
  • Arrange the premises in such a way so that the 1.5 metre rule can be adhered to between patrons from different tables.
  • Coordinate arrivals and seating of patrons so that crowding does not occur in arrival/waiting areas.
  • Ensure that there is appropriate space between dine-in patrons and takeaway food pickup areas within the premises.

Read more about requirements of businesses under the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.

How do I stay safe in a gathering?

COVID-19 is spread through contact with people. In any gathering or setting it is important to maintain:

  • physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres between people
  • hand hygiene
  • respiratory hygiene (sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissues and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing)
  • frequent environmental cleaning and disinfection.

Why is staying 1.5 metres from others important?

Physical distancing continues to be the strongest safeguard to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must continue to maintain a safe distance of no less than 1.5 metres between yourself and others, where safe and practical.

Physical distancing in schools

Physical distancing of children in schools, early childhood centres and playgroups is not required under current restrictions. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advises that there is very limited evidence of transmission of COVID-19 between children.

All adults (including parents/carers) must still maintain physical distance from each other (1.5 metres) but this does not apply to children.

Last update: 11 Aug 2020 11:04am

As at 15 July 2020 the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in Tasmania is currently low regardless of age or health conditions. It is still important for us to manage our own health and risk and to be even more vigilant if the situation changes.

Everyone should take responsibility for protecting themselves through:

  • physical distancing
  • practising good hand hygiene
  • practising cough and sneeze hygiene
  • staying home and getting tested if you develop any cold or flu-like symptoms (even if mild)
  • downloading the COVIDSafe App.

People at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19 are encouraged to monitor public health advice, talk with their GP and take extra precautions to protect their health, especially when out and about. They should also take extra precautions to avoid contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms, including children who might not fully understand physical distancing boundaries.

For more information on how to make safe decisions read the Australian Government Department of Health's Living Well in the COVID-19 Pandemic tool.

The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and those who are 70 years and older have substantial risk. There are also some medical conditions that may increase risk:

  • People on immune suppressive therapy following organ transplant
  • People who have had a bone marrow transplant in the last 24 months or are on immune suppressive therapy for graft vs host disease
  • People with blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myelodysplastic syndrome diagnosed within the last five years
  • Those having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considered to be at higher risk in public health emergencies. Specific advice is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and remote communities.

You may be at risk of moderate illness if you have other chronic conditions. For more information refer to the Australian Government Department of Health's Advice for people at risk of coronavirus.

The website also provides advice for specific groups who may be at higher risk:

People with concerns about their risk should visit their GP to help them make a risk assessment and where appropriate develop an individual COVID-19 action plan.

Last update: 11 Aug 2020 4:35pm

COVID-19 is, and will continue to be, a confusing and sometimes overwhelming time for many people. There are a range of support services available, including talking to your GP, a counsellor or other mental health professional.

See also Looking after your mental health during COVID-19 and Alcohol and COVID-19.

A Tasmanian Lifeline: 1800 98 44 34

Lifeline Tasmania has set up a new service for Tasmanians, specifically to deal with unprecedented demand for information, advice and support because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new phone line will offer three types of support:

  • Call in: Tasmanians calling in will receive psychosocial support from a trained support worker to discuss concerns and be directed to an appropriate referral service.
  • Call out: The service will contact socially isolated older Tasmanians identified through existing services, family and friends who are concerned or by other health professionals.
  • Reach out: Through partnerships with industries significantly impacted such as tourism and hospitality and retail, the service will identify at-risk community members and reach out to provide psychosocial support, counselling or employee assistance programs.

A Tasmanian Lifeline is staffed from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.

For more information about A Tasmanian Lifeline visit the website or email taslifeline@lifelinetasmania.org.au.

Check In

The Mental Health Council of Tasmania has created the Check In website to encourage all Tasmanians to look after their own mental health well-being and check in with friends and family.

The website allows you to answer some easy questions that guide you towards support and information available in Tasmania.

Head to Health

The Head to Health website provides links to trusted Australian mental health online and phone supports, resources and treatment options. It also has online programs, forums and a range of digital information resources.

Using the search page, you can navigate to various resources and services for help if you’re experiencing mental health concerns or trying to support someone else. If you’re not sure where to start, you can also use Sam the Chatbot. Sam provides tailored recommendations on information and services that best suit your needs.

Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service

The Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service website is regularly updated with information, advice and strategies to help you manage your wellbeing and mental health during this time. If you are worried or struggling to cope during the coronavirus pandemic, trained counsellors through the Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service helpline are available to support you 24/7 by calling 1800 512 348.

COVID Connect

COVID Connect is a free service from Australian Red Cross to provide support and community connection to people who feel socially isolated as a result of COVID-19. So, if you are not in regular contact with others and could do with  a friendly chat, one of the volunteers would be happy to call you – once or regularly – for a friendly chat to help maintain or improve social connection. Visit the Australian Red Cross website to find out more and register for a COVID Connect call.

Where to get help

There are many services waiting to listen and support anyone who needs advice or is worried, stressed or needs a friendly and understanding voice to talk things through.

Last update: 01 Jun 2020 10:10am

For all pregnant women

What effect does COVID-19 have on pregnant women?

Information on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and their babies is limited because the virus is new.

Pregnant women do not seem more likely to get COVID-19 than other people.

For those that do get COVID-19, most have mild or moderate illness that can be managed at home.

Some pregnant women may get very sick with COVID-19 and need hospital care.

Pregnant women at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include those:

  • in the last three months of pregnancy (third trimester)
  • with heart or lung disease or weakened immune systems
  • who are obese (very overweight)
  • who smoke.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 harms unborn babies.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 makes miscarriage more likely.

Around the world, there have been a few times when the virus that causes COVID-19 may have spread from a mother to her unborn baby. Each time, it did not appear to harm the baby.

How can I protect myself and my baby from COVID-19?

It is important to protect yourself and your baby from COVID-19.

  • Stay at home as much as possible but continue your pregnancy check-ups with your midwife and/or doctor.
  • Wash your hands often and well, using soap and running water (alcohol-based hand rub is OK if your hands do not look dirty). Always wash your hands before touching your face (especially lips, mouth, nose, eyes), food or drinks.
  • Stay away from people you don’t live with (except your doctor / midwife).
  • Stay well away from people who are sick.

It important to look after your general health during this time too.

  • Talk with your doctor or midwife about how to stay healthy, for you and your baby.
  • Get your flu shot. It won’t protect against COVID-19, but will help protect you against influenza, which can also make pregnant women very sick.
  • Get vaccinated against whooping cough (after 20 weeks’ gestation) to protect your baby. Whooping cough is a serious and potentially deadly illness for babies.
  • Consider online fitness programs to help you stay active at home. Pregnancy yoga and Pilates are good options. Talk with your midwife or doctor about what’s right for you.
  • Get enough vitamin D, especially in Tasmania’s cooler months when it is difficult to get enough vitamin D from the sun.

Mind your mind. Being pregnant can be a stressful time. COVID-19 may have added to your stress levels. Keep in touch with family and friends through phone calls, video and social media. Stay connected on social media with groups that can help support you during this time.

I'm feeling down or anxious, where can I get help?

If you are struggling or need to talk with someone, talk with your partner, GP or midwife, or call a support service:

It’s time to seek advice from a health professional if:

  • you feel consistently bad (eg sad or worried) for more than two weeks
  • negative thoughts and feelings start to affect your ability to function normally
  • you have signs of depression, eg if you lose interest in doing things you usually enjoy, or often feel hopeless or unable to cope
  • you feel anxious or worried most or all the time
  • you start having panic attacks or develop obsessive or compulsive behaviours.

Will there be changes to my antenatal care (pregnancy check-ups)?

Your doctor or midwife may change the way you have pregnancy check-ups, to help protect you and others from COVID-19.

They may:

  • shorten the time of your antenatal visits / pregnancy checkups
  • increase the time between your antenatal visits / pregnancy check ups
  • do some of your checks over the phone or by video
  • do fewer antenatal classes and make classes smaller, or provide the classes online
  • ask you to attend your appointments alone
  • limit your birth support team to just your partner and maternity ward staff
  • restrict visitors in hospital before, during and after the birth, allowing only your partner to visit
  • arrange for you to go home from hospital early, with support from midwives visiting you at home.

Will there be changes when I give birth?

There may be changes from time to time in the availability of your local maternity / birthing hospital services, because of the risk of COVID-19 or availability of staff.

Your safety and the safety of your baby is most important.

Ask your doctor or midwife about the latest arrangements.

General information is also available on the Department of Health website.

For pregnant women told to quarantine or who have or may have COVID-19

What happens if I get sick with COVID-19? Will I need to go to hospital?

If you test positive for COVID-19 or told you are a ‘probable case’, please phone your doctor or midwife and tell them.

Most people who get COVID-19 have mild illness. If you get COVID-19 and have mild symptoms, you can stay at home. A healthcare worker will contact you most days while you are sick, to check how you are.

If you get very sick, you might need to be cared for in hospital.

Any time, if you think you are getting worse, call your doctor or the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738). If you are very unwell or have trouble breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Tell the operator you have COVID-19 and are pregnant.

If you are worried about your baby, call your maternity unit, midwife or doctor.

If I have COVID-19, what will that mean for my baby?

There is no evidence that COVID-19 harms unborn babies.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 makes miscarriage more likely.

Around the world, there have been times when it is possible the virus that causes COVID-19 may have spread from a mother to her unborn baby. Each time, the virus did not seem to harm the baby.

As a precaution, an ultrasound scan will be arranged for a few weeks after your recovery to check that your baby is well. However, if you are concerned for any reason during your pregnancy, contact your midwife and/or doctor.

Some women overseas with COVID-19 have given birth prematurely (early). This may be because the virus caused early birth or because doctors recommended the baby be born early because the mother was sick.

If you have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 when your baby is born, your baby may be tested for the virus.

Your doctor and midwife will talk to you about the best way to keep your baby safe.

What should I do if I have been told to quarantine and I'm due for a check-up?

If you have been told to self-quarantine because of COVID-19 and are due to attend a pregnancy check up with your doctor or midwife, phone them and let them know your situation.

Your doctor or midwife will tell you if your appointment should go ahead and what you need to do.

What should I do if I am worried about my baby?

Contact your maternity unit, doctor or midwife if:

  • you are worried about your baby at any time
  • your baby’s movements change
  • you think your waters have broken
  • labour pains start.

Will being in COVID-19 quarantine affect where I give birth?

There may be changes from time to time in the availability of your local maternity / birthing hospital services, because of the risk of COVID-19 or availability of staff.

Your safety and the safety of your baby is most important.

Ask your doctor or midwife about the latest arrangements.

Your plan to birth in hospital will not change.

In hospital, midwives will closely monitor you to ensure your labour is progressing well and that your baby is coping with labour, using electronic foetal monitoring. This can only happen in a delivery unit where doctors and midwives are present.

If you are sick with COVID-19, doctors and midwives in hospital will also monitor your oxygen levels throughout labour. This is important because COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and affect the oxygen levels in your body. If you are sick, hospital is the safest place for childbirth, for you and your baby.

Will being in COVID-19 quarantine affect how I give birth?

If you are well, COVID-19 should not cause big changes to how you give birth.

If you are unwell or short of breath, your doctor may recommend a caesarean birth.

Your doctor / midwife / birth team are likely to wear personal protective equipment (including gowns and facemasks) to protect themselves.

Your doctor and midwife will talk with you about pain relief options that are consistent with national guidelines and your obstetrician.

What should I do if I go into labour while I am in quarantine for COVID-19?

If you have been told to quarantine because of COVID-19 and you go into labour, call your midwife or hospital birth team.

Tell them you are in quarantine because of COVID-19. They will tell you what to do and where to go.

Your midwife and hospital birth team will know how to look after you and your baby safely and will follow your birth plan as much as possible.

If you are sick with COVID-19, doctors and midwives in hospital will also monitor your oxygen levels throughout labour. This is important because COVID-19 can cause shortness of breath and affect the oxygen levels in your body. If you are sick, hospital is the safest place for childbirth, for you and your baby.

Your doctor or midwife might tell you to stay at home in the early stage of labour. This is normal any time.

When it is time for you to go hospital:

  • wash your hands before leaving home
  • travel in your own car with your partner if you can (unless your partner has symptoms of COVID-19, in which case they should stay at home)
  • call the maternity unit when you arrive outside the hospital; staff will meet you at the hospital entrance and give you a surgical mask to wear until you get to your room
  • if your partner is well, they can stay with you during labour
  • it is likely other support people and visitors will not be allowed.

Will I be able to hold and feed my baby?

If you are sick with COVID-19, you should still be able to hold and feed your baby if you are well enough. Your midwife will show you how to protect your baby.

There is no evidence the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread through breast milk. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks.

Whichever way you choose to feed, you will need to:

  • wash and dry your hands well (or use alcohol-based hand rub) before touching your baby, breast pump or any other feeding equipment
  • wear a facemask over your mouth and nose while holding or feeding your baby.

If you express breast milk in hospital, use a breast pump that can be cleaned carefully after each use.

Where can I get more information?

For more information about COVID-19 and pregnancy / childbirth, talk with your doctor or midwife or go to the following groups for information:

Last update: 14 Aug 2020 1:16pm

Widespread testing of people with cold or flu-like symptoms (even mild) is vital to track and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Who should be tested for COVID-19?

It is important to get tested if you have or have had any of the following symptoms in the past 7 days, even mild:

  • fever (or signs of fever, including chills or night sweats)
  • runny nose
  • cough
  • sore/itchy throat
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of taste or smell.

If you become very unwell or have difficulty breathing, call Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

For information regarding testing requirements of Essential Travellers, please see Essential Travellers.

Testing is also encouraged for:

  • Health and aged care workers displaying symptoms
  • Household members of healthcare and aged care workers who have symptoms
  • Close contacts of confirmed cases between days 10-12 from their last contact with the confirmed case
  • People quarantining in government-designated accommodation on days 5 and 12 of their quarantine period
  • Tasmanians in home quarantine on day 12 of their quarantine period.

In line with national guidelines, patients being discharged from hospitals to residential aged care facilities no longer need to be tested, if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

What does the test involve?

The COVID-19 test involves a healthcare worker taking samples with a swab from your nose and throat. The swabs will be sent away for testing.

To protect themselves when they are in close contact with you, healthcare workers will wear protective equipment, including a facemask and safety goggles.

Where can I be tested?

While some testing sites require bookings to be made, some mobile sites can provide drive up testing without bookings.

Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics

These clinics are best for people at higher risk of having COVID-19, including:

  • healthcare, aged care and residential care workers or staff with direct patient contact
  • people who travelled outside Tasmania or had close contact with a confirmed case within 14 days of developing symptoms
  • people in quarantine.

The Tasmanian Government COVID-19 Testing Clinics provide sample collection (testing) services only. Staff at the clinics do not provide health assessments or management of symptoms.

Results are usually provided within 48 hours.

These clinics will test children under 18.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

DatesLocationBookingsNotes
Daily

Hobart

Launceston

Booking required - call Public Health Hotline: 1800 671 738

On premises testing

8:30am - 3:30pm daily Devonport, East Devonport Recreation Centre (67 Caroline Street)

Burnie, West Park, 'The Point' (10 Bass Highway)
No booking required

Mobile testing clinics

COVID-19 testing in rural and regional areas is available through our mobile testing clinics. Note, if you have symptoms of COVID-19, don't wait for the mobile testing clinic to come to your area. Phone 1800 671 738 to arrange testing as early as possible.

Details of future mobile testing clinics to be advised.

Other testing options

These clinics are for people who have mild-to-moderate cold and flu symptoms. They provide assessment, testing, and initial treatment of symptoms.

These clinics are free, including for people who are not covered by Medicare.

They are the best option for people who need to see a GP but can't see their own, and for children under the age of five.

There are three clinics across the state, located at:

You don’t need a doctor’s referral to go to these free clinics, but you do need to make an appointment. Don’t just turn up.

You can make an appointment in two ways:

  1. By phoning the clinic nearest to you
  2. By booking online via the HotDoc website.

Results are usually provided within 48 hours. For more information go to the Primary Health Tasmania website.

It is a good idea to discuss testing with your usual GP.

Some GPs are doing COVID-19 sample collection/testing themselves; others may see you via telehealth and refer you for testing if required or suggest you make an appointment. GPs may charge for a consultation.

You will need to check with your GP if they test children under 18.

Results are usually provided within 2-4 days.

Do you have a disability that might affect you being tested?

Please let your GP or the Public Health Hotline know if you have access difficulties so they can refer you to the most appropriate clinic or arrange an alternative testing process.

Travelling to your testing appointment

It’s important to protect others.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms and there is a higher risk of you having COVID-19, please don’t travel to the clinic by bus, taxi or ride-sharing service. People at higher risk of having COVID-19 include:

  • people who have had close contact with a confirmed case in the previous 14 days
  • people who have travelled outside Tasmania in the previous 14 days
  • health and aged care workers who have symptoms of COVID-19.

If you don’t have your own transport, tell your GP or the Public Health Hotline when you make your appointment and ask for help getting to the testing clinic.

If you are being tested because you have symptoms but are not at higher risk of having COVID-19, then it’s best to travel by private car but it’s OK to travel by public transport (bus, taxis or rideshare etc) if you need to.

When travelling to get tested:

  • wear a facemask to protect others
  • before leaving home, make sure you and people travelling with you wash their hands well, with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand rub if hands are not visibly dirty)
  • maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5m between people
  • sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue and clean your hands after coughing or sneezing
  • go straight to the GP or testing clinic – don't stop on the way there or back.

If another person drives you to get tested, please protect them:

  • Minimise the number of people in the car – its best if its just the driver and you.
  • Avoid physical contact with the driver – keep at least 1.5 metres whenever possible.
  • Sit in the back seat opposite the driver.
  • Your driver does not need to quarantine with you but should be alert for any cold or flu-like symptoms and isolate themselves and arrange testing straight away if symptoms develop.

I have symptoms and have been tested for COVID-19. What should I do?

While you wait for your results it is important that you:

  • Stay at home. Self-isolate 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 for support.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. If you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow. Put used tissues in the rubbish straight away and wash your hands.
  • Keep 1.5 metres (two large steps) away from other people or wear a mask. If you share your home, consider if you or other members of your household can stay elsewhere, especially if they are elderly or have underlying medical conditions, including diagnosed conditions affecting their immunity. If this isn’t possible:
    • Stay at least 1.5 metres (two big steps) away from other household members. Wear a facemask if you need to be closer to household members.
    • Sleep in a separate bed and use a separate bathroom if you can.
    • Keep personal items (like towels, face washers and toothbrushes) separate.
    • Do not share food or drinks.
    • Stay away from shared spaces, like the kitchen (a shared garden is okay).
  • Do not have visitors while in self-isolation (even if they are also in self-isolation or quarantine). Tell family, friends and neighbours not to visit. Consider putting a note on your door to let people know.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (alcohol-based hand rub is OK if your hands do not look dirty). Viruses can survive for a short time on surfaces and spread through hand contact.
  • Know when and how to seek further help.
    • If you get very sick or have trouble breathing, call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance. Tell them you may have COVID-19.
    • If you feel stressed or anxious while you wait for your results, talk with someone. Lifeline has set up a new service to help Tasmanians effected by COVID-19. Call 1800 984 434 from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm, 7 days.

See I've been tested for COVID-19. Now what? for more information.

I don't have symptoms/I am not in quarantine, but I've been tested for COVID-19. What do I need to do?

Sometimes, Public Health Services will ask people to agree to get tested even if they do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and are not in quarantine.

If this is you, you don’t need to self-isolate while you wait for the result.

You can go about your normal daily routine and continue to follow the rules in place for the whole community. See I've been tested but I don't have symptoms and/or I am not in quarantine. Now what? for more information.

How will I find out my COVID-19 test result?

If you were tested at a Tasmanian Health Service Respiratory Clinic and your result is negative, you will either get a text message from ‘Tas Health’ or, if you don’t have a mobile phone or ask not to be notified by text, you will receive a phone call to inform you of your result.

If your result is negative, you do not need to self-isolate any longer unless Public Health has told you to stay in quarantine because you might have been exposed to the virus. If you are still sick you should still protect others from whatever germ is causing your illness. Stay at home as much as you can.

You should still follow the rules in place for the whole community to slow the spread of illness.

If your result is positive, Public Health Services will phone you to talk about the next steps.

If you have any questions or need advice about your test result, phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738. Listen to the menu options and select the 'Calling in relation to your test results' option.

If you were tested by your GP or at a GP-led Respiratory Clinic, they will contact you directly with positive and negative results. If your result is positive, Public Health Services will also phone you to talk about the next steps.

Why not test people who don’t have symptoms?

Testing people for COVID-19 is important to stop the spread of the disease in the community. Testing identifies people who have the virus, and isolating those people stops them passing it on.

To be most effective, the focus of testing in Australia – especially in areas where the virus is not spreading in the community – is on people who have any cold or flu-like symptoms, even mild. When COVID-19 is not spreading in the community, testing people without symptoms is not an efficient or effective way to find rare cases.

The main reason for targeting people with symptoms is that they are more likely to have COVID-19 than people without symptoms. People with symptoms are also more likely to pass the virus on to other people than those who don’t.

Sometimes testing is recommended for people who don’t have symptoms. For example, if there is an outbreak, people who may be at risk in the same setting or community (including healthcare workers and aged care workers) may be targeted for testing, along with contacts of confirmed cases.

Tasmania’s approach to testing people for COVID-19 is like the approach used interstate and is based on recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. That Committee is made up of Chief Health Officers from around Australia and is the main national expert committee advising on COVID-19 in Australia. That committee itself is advised by groups of national experts on communicable disease control and laboratory testing.

What if I’m not eligible for Medicare?

People from overseas, such as travellers and people with temporary visas, who get sick in Australia and are not eligible for Medicare often have health or travel insurance.

For people who do not have adequate insurance, the Tasmanian Government will waive the costs of treatment and testing for COVID-19 provided by Tasmanian Government services. This includes waiving costs for ambulance transfers for people suspected to have COVID-19 who are taken to Tasmanian public hospitals for assessment. These arrangements have been put in place to ensure costs of services does not stop people from overseas with symptoms of COVID-19 seeking early medical advice.

People not covered by Medicare who have cold or flu-like symptoms will be seen and tested (if needed) at no cost at a GP-led respiratory clinic.

People not covered by Medicare who see their local GP should discuss the cost of services with the provider.

Information for visa holders

COVID-19 test information is only used for public health purposes and has no influence on your visa status. The Tasmanian Government’s sole concerns are for your health and to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Last update: 20 Jul 2020 10:56am

Prevent the spread

Personal hygiene is an important protection against COVID-19 and all respiratory illnesses. You can help slow the spread of illness by:

  • washing your hands often with soap and warm, running water (or alcohol-base hand rub), especially after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose
  • using a tissue (or flexed elbow if a tissue is not readily available) to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, then putting the tissue in the rubbish
  • keeping two large steps from others if you can, when you are out in public
  • contacting your GP or the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to be tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms of fever, runny nose, cough, sore or itchy throat, or shortness of breath
  • wearing a facemask if you are unwell with COVID-19 symptoms and need to be around other people (for example, to access arranged medical care).

Hand hygiene

Practising good hand hygiene is your best defence.

How to wash

  • Use soap and warm, running water if you can.
  • Make sure the soap and water get on your whole hand – palms, backs of hands, thumbs, fingertips, wrists and the webbing between your fingers.
  • Rub your hands for 15–20 seconds, or for as long as it takes to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song slowly.
  • Rinse and dry well.

When to wash

  • After coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose
  • Before touching your face, especially your mouth, lips, nose, eyes
  • Before eating, drinking, preparing food/drinks
  • After caring for someone who is unwell
  • After going to the toilet
  • After handling money, especially if you’re eating or handling food.

Hand sanitiser

If the product is labelled and/or promoted as providing a therapeutic benefit (claims that it kills specific organisms or is to be used in clinics or hospitals) then it needs to be Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or made to an approved recipe under the TGA exemption.

A more detailed explanation can be found on the TGA website.

Watch out for inappropriate claims

The TGA enforces restrictions on the types of claims that are allowed to be made on the labels and in promotional material for hand sanitisers that it regulates. For example, the label or an advertisement for hand sanitiser cannot claim to help reduce the transmission of the coronavirus or prevent COVID-19 unless it has been approved for those claims.

If a hand sanitiser claims to be "suitable for use in medical and health services", it must either be regulated by the TGA, or it must meet specified formulation, manufacturing, labelling and advertising requirements. Hand sanitisers that are regulated by the TGA will have an AUST R number included on the label.

If a hand sanitiser claims to kill specific organisms (eg E.coli or viruses), it is required to be regulated by the TGA and assessed for safety, quality and effectiveness. If a hand sanitiser makes these claims and it does not have an AUST R number on the label, it is likely to be a non-compliant product that has not been assessed by the TGA.

General household and workplace cleaning

Cleaning is an important way to slow the spread of viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.

For frequently touched surfaces like door handles, tabletops, desks, light switches, railings, shared keyboards and mice, taps and handles:

  • Clean these surfaces frequently, making sure you remove any visible dirt and organic matter so that the disinfectant can work well.
  • Regularly wipe the surface using your normal household or workplace detergent/disinfectant, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.

Surfaces that are less often touched:

  • Clean these surfaces at least when they start to look dusty or dirty and immediately after any spillage or contamination.
  • Use your normal household or workplace detergent, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.
  • Damp mopping is better than dry.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing means increasing physical space between you and other people. It is important to exercise physical distancing because COVID-19 is most likely to spread by close contact with an infected person, or by contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.

For more information see the Guide to physical distancing.

People at higher risk

Some people who may be at higher risk of developing severe illness with COVID-19 are encouraged to monitor public health advice, talk with their GP and take extra precautions to protect their health. For more information see Higher risk Tasmanians.