NEW: Symptom Checker | Coronavirus Resources

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus circulating worldwide called SARS-CoV-2. Find out how to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19.

COVID-19 coronavirus - how to avoid infection

Infographic courtesy of healthdirect.

Good hygiene

As with all respiratory viruses, practising good hygiene is at the core of protecting yourself from being infected with coronavirus.

Avoid close contact with other people, especially touching. There are some new social protocols for greetings to replace handshaking, including the elbow bump, a wave, nod or bow.

Avoid touching your face

Try not to touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. Especially with unwashed hands. This helps you avoid infecting yourself if you do pick up the virus from contaminated surfaces.

Wash your hands thoroughly and often

Regular hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to avoid being infected with coronavirus.

Here are some tips for effective hand washing:

  • use soap and water
  • wash for at least 20 seconds (enough time to sing 2 rounds of “Happy Birthday”)

The World Health Organization has a useful guide to good hand washing procedure.

Especially wash your hands:

  • after you cough and sneeze
  • after using the bathroom
  • before, during and after you prepare food
  • before eating
  • after handling animals or animal waste
  • before putting on a mask
  • after removing a mask.

Hand sanitiser

An alcohol-based sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol is a good substitute for hand hygiene if you can’t access soap and water

Clean and disinfect surfaces

Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, e.g. door handles, light switches, counters, and bathroom and kitchen areas. Do this every day. Use a disinfectant or household detergent.

Avoid sick people

Avoid close contact with people who are ill. Stay at least 1 metre away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Cover coughs and sneezes

Protect those around you by following good cough etiquette.

  • cough or sneeze into a tissue – making sure you cover your nose and mouth
  • or cough/sneeze into your elbow or sleeve
  • put used tissues in the bin straightaway
  • wash your hands with soap and water immediately after, for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Stay home if you are sick

If you feel unwell, stay at home. Don’t go to work. Don’t visit anyone in hospital or an aged care or other health facility.  And seek medical care (call in advance) if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Follow the instructions of your local health authority. The national Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 can help with information about the coronavirus.

If you are instructed to leave home for testing, wear a surgical mask – if you have one – to protect other people, stay 1.5 metres away from other people, and cover your coughs and sneezes.

Use our coronavirus risk tool to assess your symptoms

People at higher risk of serious illness

People who have been identified as being at higher risk of serious illness if they are infected are:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • people aged 70 years and older
  • people 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or COPD
  • people with compromised immune systems.

These groups of people have been advised to stay at home and self-isolate for their own protection. Going outside to get some fresh air and exercise, with or without a support person is fine, but you should limit contact with other people. Where possible, online ordering of food and groceries will reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.

Last Reviewed: 31/03/2020



1. Department of Health. Coronavirus (COVID-19).
2. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public. Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus.
3. World Health Organization. Coronavirus. Wash your hands.
4. CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Steps to Prevent Illness.