The World Health Organization has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic. We can all play our part in helping to reduce the spread of this new and highly contagious disease. Here are seven steps that we can all take to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, and what to do if you have symptoms.

1. Wash your hands frequently.

It is recommended to wash your hands frequently, with water and soap or alcohol rub. You can find a great resource on how to effectively and efficiently wash your hands here - 

2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

According to the World Health Organisation and Australian health agencies, COVID-19 can be transmitted from one person to another by droplets. By avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth you can protect yourself from contracting the disease and transmitting it to others.

3. Cover your cough using the bend of your elbow or a tissue.

The Australian government health agencies along with the World Health Organisation are encouraging good hygiene practices when coughing and sneezing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are all encouraged to cover our mouths with the inside of our elbow or by using a tissue. You can access a downloadable poster developed by the Australian Government here

4. Avoid crowded places and close contact with anyone that has a fever or cough.

Close contact with others, especially those who are displaying symptoms of fever or cough can increase your chances of contracting COVID-19. Commonly known as social-isolating, we are all encouraged to keep at least 1.5m away from other people at all times. You can find a printable resource designed by the Australian Government here -

5. Stay at home if you feel unwell.

Slowing the spread is everyone's responsibility. One of the best things each of us can do to protect one another, especially the elderly and vulnerable is to stay at home. Reducing our exposure to others reduces our chance of infection and our chance of passing the disease on to others.

6. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early - but call first.

If you're feeling unwell, it is advised that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. However, due to the contagiousness of COVID-19, we are all encouraged to reach out to our doctor by phone before attending the clinic. The Australian Government has developed an online tool that can be used to find out if you meet the Australian Government guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, answer a series of questions. You can access the online tool here -

7. Get information from trusted sources.

It's important to have accurate, credible and up-to-date information on the developing COVID-19 health crisis. There are several official sources that can be accessed by anyone. We've included a list of resources with current and relevant information here.

For information on how Australia is responding to the COVID-19 health crisis go to: 

As always, if you or someone you care for needs support you can contact call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or chat with a crisis supporter via text Lifeline on 0477 13 11 14 (6 pm-midnight AEDT) or online at (7 pm-midnight AEDT).