Coronavirus: What you need to know

March 25, 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.

Current situation 

Updated: 25 March 2020

Visiting PCH: To help keep our sickest kids safe, we have changed our guidelines at PCH from Monday 23 March 2020.

Inpatients - A maximum of two designated adults per day. The designated adult visitors must be the same each day. 

Outpatient appointments and Emergency Department - A maximum of one designated adult may accompany a patient.

NO visitors under the age of 16 including siblings.

If you have any concerns about these changes, please speak to your treating team.

Emergency department: Operating as usual.

Outpatient appointments: Appointments are going ahead as scheduled. Outpatient departments are moving to ways of attending appointments such as phone and teleconference (Telehealth). 

Surgery: Changes to elective surgery. Those who will be affected by the changes to Category 3 and 2 elective surgery will be notified. Category 1 surgery will continue.

Stay up to date by checking:

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.

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
  • flu like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and headaches
  • difficulty breathing.

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 a fever, cough, or sore throat and they have returned from overseas in the last 14 days or had close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus, please seek medical attention by calling the Coronavirus Information Line on 1800 020 080.

If your child has not travelled overseas, or has not been in close contact with someone who has been tested and diagnosed with Coronavirus in the past 14 days and yet you are still concerned, please call your GP or the Coronavirus Information Line on 1800 020 080.

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.

Visiting or staying at Perth Children's Hospital? Here's what you need to know.