As the coronavirus pandemic continues and almost 1.3 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, Australia has intensified its social lockdown.
Physical distancing is intended to help ‘flatten the curve’ by slowing the spread of the virus.
Health experts have said that how well everyone sticks to physical isolation will determine how effective it is and how soon the measures can end.
Rapid changes and seemingly conflicting announcements have led to many people being unsure of how to proceed.
Here is a summary of some key points you need to know.
Australians have been instructed to remain at home other than for certain essential purposes:
- obtaining food
- walking or other public exercise
- healthcare such as medical appointments or pharmacy visits
- providing care or support to another person
- going to study or work that cannot be done from home.
When leaving home, you can go as a group of no more than two people – with households of more than two being an exception.
Families or partners who live across two households can visit each other despite the general ban on public or private gatherings of more than two people.
Police have been given increased powers to fine people breaking isolation orders.
Each state and territory may have slightly different rules, such as the circumstances in which partners may visit each other or how the restrictions will be enforced.
Hygiene and distancing
Sick or not, everyone is advised to take basic hygiene and physical distancing precautions.
Like other infections, the novel coronavirus can be spread even from people who are not showing symptoms.
- Regularly wash your hands with water and soap for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser. Gloves do not replace handwashing.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a clean tissue (then throw it out).
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables and door handles.
- Stay 1.5 metres or more from other people – your hands shouldn’t touch if you were both to reach out.
- If outside or with a visitor at home, consider wearing a cloth mask over your mouth and nose. While not yet recommended by Australian authorities for people who are asymptomatic, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have suggested this measure.
No evidence yet suggests that COVID-19 is sexually transmitted as such, but the physical closeness of sex could lead to transmission.
Health organisations have asked people to consider limiting their number of sexual partners or avoiding casual sex temporarily.
National sex worker peer organisation Scarlet Alliance has recommended that workers take a break if possible, while acknowledging that for some this is not feasible.
Some online icons are doing their part to support people in isolation, with several porn sites and dating apps offering free premium services during the pandemic.
If you or someone else is sick
If you are caring for someone who is sick with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, try to keep their care to one room in the home and be especially vigilant with distancing and hygiene.
Remember that the virus can be dangerous for older people and those with chronic illness, but the majority of people will not experience severe symptoms.
More information and updates
Pink Advocate will continue to share local and international news during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Australian Government is providing regular updates on health, financial, and other information.
If you or someone you know needs support during the pandemic, please refer to our list of community services and resources.