How To Be Alone And Not Cry: Self-Isolating For Coronavirus 101
Given the noise around coronavirus it can be hard to distinguish what advice to take, especially if you're experiencing symptoms, are returning from abroad or have had contact with someone who has the disease.
From today anyone arriving into Australia from overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Failing to do so could see Australians slapped with fines of up to $13,000.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also urging elderly Australians to remain vigilant and keep contact to a minimum but said they "do not need to cut themselves off" from the rest of the nation.
"The medical advice is that there should be no shaking of hands. Where we can do it, 1.5-meters is the recommended social distancing should be practicing."
But what exactly does 'self-isolating' mean and what rules should you follow?
Here’s a summary of the advice, according to the government's health department.
Firstly, Who Needs To Isolate?
The Federal Government now requires all Australians returning from abroad to self-isolate for 14 days.
According to The Department Of Health, those who have visited high-risk countries like mainland China, Iran, Italy or South Korea should remain extra vigilant.
Self-isolation extends to those who have been in contact "with a proven case of coronavirus".
If you have been tested for coronavirus and are waiting for results it is common sense that you distance yourself from the general public.
Getting Home After Returning A Positive Test, Or From The Airport
The government recommends when travelling home or to your hotel to start isolation you use private transport to get there -- such as a personal car.
If that's not an option, individuals must wear surgical masks when travelling on public transport or in ride-sharing services such as taxis.
The department advises to avoid contact with other passengers, drivers or transport staff and to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
Additionally, if you're picking up friends or family from the airport who have just returned from overseas, Morrison said the risk of contracting the virus remains low and you are not required to isolate with them.
"The risk is low. Anyone presenting with symptoms or things of that nature will be issued with protective equipment," he explained.
"The advice on testing is clear -- you have to be in contact with someone that had symptoms, or 24 hours before they had symptoms, and you are showing symptoms yourself."
Stay At Home
It should be obvious. Self-isolation means staying at home -- unless you need to seek medical care.
The government is urging Australians to stay put and not enter public places such as the workplace, schools, childcare, university or attend public gatherings.
"Only people who usually live with you should be in the home. Do not see visitors. If you are in a hotel, avoid contact with other guests or staff," the Department of Health advises.
There's no need to wear a surgical mask at home if you're feeling well, but it is recommended to ask others who are not in isolation to get food and necessities for you.
"If you must leave home, such as to seek medical care, wear a surgical mask. If you don’t have a mask, take care to not cough or sneeze on others," according to the government.
What If You Live With Others?
This is where it gets a little bit tricky. If you share a room with your partner or live in a share house, it can be difficult to distance yourself from others, but there are a few simple things you can do to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
Separate yourself by sleeping in your own room and keeping the door closed when you can. You must cook meals for yourself when no one else is using the kitchen and you should have your own dedicated kitchenware including cutlery, bowls and glasses.
If you don't have your own bathroom, its recommended you arrange a bathroom schedule. Those infected -- or at risk -- should be the last person to use the washroom and must wipe down and disinfect surfaces after use.
Make sure you keep your toothbrush and toiletries separate and dispose of any used tissues immediately.
Clean Everything After Use
If in doubt, wipe it down.
To minimise the spread of any germs, you should regularly wash communal surfaces that are frequently touched liked door handles, light switches, kitchen and bathroom areas with detergent or disinfectant.
Keep your wash towels separate and change bed linen regularly while keeping windows ajar to allow airflow.
How To Do Your Shopping
You have two options when it comes to purchasing groceries, medication and other essentials.
You can order your groceries online and have them delivered, but the health department recommends you ask the driver to leave your package at the door or you wear a surgical mask when collecting them.
Otherwise, you can ask family or friends to do your shopping for you but they must also leave items outside the front door.
How To See A Doctor If Symptoms Worsen
"You should seek medical attention immediately if you develop symptoms while in self-quarantine," according to the Department Of Health.
If symptoms are severe, including shortness of breath at rest or difficulty breathing, the government said you should phone triple zero.
However, if symptoms are less severe such as a cough, fever or runny nose you can phone your local doctor or healthdirect on 1800 022 222.
"When you call, tell them where you have travelled, or that you are a close contact of a person with COVID-19," the department said.
If you need to visit your local emergency department you must immediately inform them of where you have travelled, or if you've come into contact with a person who has the virus.
It is also essential you are wearing a surgical mask before presenting at your GP or hospital.
Reduce Boredom and Keep Up Exercise
Being in isolation can be frightening. But one of the most important things to do during self-isolation is to keep your spirits high and avoid boredom.
The government suggests organising to work from home and to keep in contact with friends of relatives via Skype or phone calls.
It is also essential isolated people keep up a daily exercise routine which can include yoga, following fitness DVDs or YouTube videos, or working out outdoors if you have a private garden.
"Exercise is a proven treatment for stress and depression," the health department acknowledged.
Health authorities also recommend "thinking about how you have coped with difficult situations in the past and reassure yourself that you will cope with this situation too."
"Remember that quarantine won’t last for long," the department urges.
What To Do After 14 Days Of Isolation
If you've been in self-isolation for 14 days and haven't experienced any symptoms you're free to go about your usual activities like returning to work or school.
But some Australians may be required to obtain a medical certificate from their GP before they can do so.