Coronavirus: Information for patients and families

October 2, 2020

There is a lot of information about Coronavirus (or COVID-19) available, and we know it can be confusing and scary.

We’ve put together some information and frequently asked questions about what Coronavirus is and what you can do to protect both you and your family.

Visiting or staying at PCH

If you have an upcoming visit or stay at PCH, find out what's changed.


Advice for children who are immunocompromised or have a pre-existing condition

Visitor guidelines 



HealthyWA has daily updates and information about Coronavirus for the Western Australian community.

Department of Health, Western Australia

The Department of Health includes the latest information and impacts on health across the state.

Department of Health, Australian Government

The Australian Government has information on how they are responding to the outbreak, and what you can do to reduce the spread.


Frequently asked questions

What is Coronavirus or COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in humans and animals. Human coronavirus illnesses are generally mild such as the common cold. However, some coronaviruses can cause severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which was identified in 2003, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), which was identified in 2012.

COVID-19 is a new coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. It is a new strain of coronaviruses that hasn’t previously been identified in humans. COVID-19 is closely related to SARS and in the same family of viruses as MERS.

Want to explain what Coronavirus is to kids? Download What is Coronavirus (PDF 5MB).

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus? 

Coronavirus can cause a range of symptoms. Symptoms can range from mild illness to severe pneumonia. Affected people may experience:

  • fever of 37.5C or above OR fever in the last few days (for example, night sweats or chills), without a known source
  • have acute respiratrory symptoms (for example, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose)
  • sudden loss of smell or taste.

Who is at risk?

People who live in, or have recently travelled to countries where the virus is circulating or had close contact with a confirmed case may be at risk of becoming unwell.

Some people may be at higher risk of severe infection, including the elderly and those with some pre-existing medical conditions. What we currently know is that Coronavirus infection in children appears to be milder than in adults.

For children who are undergoing treatment for cancer or have a pre-existing health conditions, they may possibly be more susceptible to Coronavirus, we need further studies to actually define this risk.

What is considered ‘close contact’ with a confirmed Coronavirus case?

A close contact is defined as:

  • Greater than 15 minutes face-to-face contact, in any setting, with a confirmed case OR
  • Sharing of a closed space with a confirmed case for a prolonged period (e.g. More than 2 hours)

What should I do if my child becomes unwell and has symptoms of Coronavirus?

If your child develops symptoms consistent with Coronavirus please take them to be tested and then isolate at home.  Testing can be done either through your local COVID clinic or through some private pathology collection centres with a pathology request form from your GP.  You can also call the Coronavirus information helpline on 13 COVID (13 268 43). 
If your child is displaying any of the above symptoms and they are very unwell or you are concerned about their condition, please bring them to the PCH Emergency Department where they will be assessed and can be tested for Coronavirus.

What can I do to protect myself and my children?

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough etiquette. This includes:

Washing your hands

Frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand gel. Here's how to wash your hands properly.

Try not to touch your mouth and nose

If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with a paper tissue or flexed elbow – throw the tissue immediately after use and wash your hands.

Stay away from people who are sick

Avoid close contact with anyone if you, or they, have a cold or flu-like symptoms (maintain a distance of at least one metre).

Do I need to wear a face mask?

You do not need to wear a mask if you are healthy. While the use of masks can help to prevent transmission of disease from infected patients to others, masks are not currently recommended for use by healthy members of the public for the prevention of infections like Coronavirus.

Read the full detail on COVID-19 on Healthy WA.