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Coronavirus and COVID-19: Workplace Health & Safety Update

Unions are closely monitoring the coronavirus and COVID-19 situation in NSW and Australia. We want to ensure that the health impacts on workers are minimised and the no worker is penalised for taking time of the work due to coronavirus. To join the campaign to ensure no worker misses out on paid leave, sign the petition here. 

If you have concerns about your workplace conditions, for example if you are unable to access sick leave to self-quarantine, please contact your union or contact us on 02 9881 5999. If you are concerned about your health, please contact medical authorities (listed at the bottom of this article) immediately. Below is important health information on coronavirus, including information on how to minimise your risk of infection. 

What are coronaviruses and COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can make humans and animals sick. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe diseases. The current outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus is called COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild illness to pneumonia and individuals infected may experience:

  • fever;
  • flu-like symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, sore throat and fatigue; and/or
  • shortness of breath.

How is coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus is spread through contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, by either breathing them in or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) and then touching your mouth or face.

The virus enters the body mainly through the mouth, nose and eyes. Infection generally occurs between people who are in close contact with one another, such as family members.

Who is most at risk of infection?

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting COVID-19 are those people who have recently been in:

  • mainland China
  • South Korea
  • Italy
  • Iran, or
anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person.

What can you do to minimise the risk of infection?

Good personal hygiene is the most effective precautionary measure against coronavirus infection. Simple steps you can take include:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm running water.
  • Using a hand sanitiser regularly.
  • Avoiding close contact with individuals who display flu-like symptoms.
  • Avoiding touching your face with your hands to the extent practicable.

As a general practice, if you are unwell with a cold, flu or other infection and have symptoms that include coughing, sneezing or a runny nose, it is important that you stay at home until you are fully recovered, to avoid infecting other people.

Other steps include:

  • Avoid non-essential public gatherings of more than 500 people.
  • Avoid all non-essential overseas travel.

Self-isolation requirement

If you have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, you are required to self-isolate. This means you must not attend public and common areas such as supermarkets, public transport and workplaces. 

Medical assistance

If you develop flu-like symptoms following recent travel or transit through one of the high-risk countries or have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is vitally important that you:

  • isolate yourself from other people immediately;
  • contact your GP and advise them about your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with an infected person; and/or
  • call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 022 222 and, if necessary, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Important websites or information lines

It is important that you keep up to date with medical and travel advice from the sources listed below to minimise the risk of coronavirus infection for yourself, your family and the community.

Other Helpful Resources