Novel coronavirus - Information for volunteer-involving organisations


An outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in late December 2019.

We encourage our members and volunteer-involving organisations to be aware and vigilant to protect staff, volunteers and clients from the spread of novel coronavirus. We recommend you consider the following information to make your own choices in your organisation:

  • Any staff and volunteers who have a recent travel history to China should quarantine themselves at home for 14 days and not come into the office during that time.
  • Any staff or volunteers who may have been in close contact of a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus and/or have developed symptoms (listed below), should contact their local Public Health unit for assessment (see contact information below).
  • If staff and volunteers working in public areas or people’s homes feel they need to wear masks, please research to find the right type of masks that need to be worn and how they should be worn properly.

What if staff or volunteers have been to China recently?

  • We recommend that they quarantine themselves at home for 10 days and do not come into the office during that time.
  • They should monitor their health closely and report any symptoms to the public health agency in Queensland (see contact information below).

What is this virus?

Coronaviruses can make humans and animals sick. Some coronaviruses can cause illness similar to the common cold and others can cause more serious diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

The virus seen in Hubei Province, China is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It had not been detected before this outbreak. Most people infected live in, or travelled to, Hubei Province, China. There have been cases of novel coronavirus reported in other Chinese provinces and other countries. It is likely that the virus originally came from an animal, and there is evidence that it can spread from person-to-person.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include (but are not limited to) fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

What should you do if someone is experiencing symptoms?

If a person develops mild symptoms, they should:

  • isolate themselves in a single room away from others and seek an urgent medical review
  • when possible, isolate themselves at home while waiting for results of the assessment
  • call a doctor or hospital ahead of time and tell them they may have novel coronavirus infection
  • tell the doctor’s clinic or hospital again when they arrive that they may have novel coronavirus infection.

If the person has severe symptoms, such as shortness of breath:

  • call 000 and request an ambulance
  • inform the paramedics that the person may have novel coronavirus infection.

How you can help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus?

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.

Encourage all staff and volunteers to:

  • wash their hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
  • avoid contact with others (including touching, hugging, etc.)
  • cough and sneeze into their elbow.

Where can you get more information?

Visit the Australian Government Department of Health homepage at

Call the Public Health Information Line on 1800 044 599.

Contact your State or Territory Public Health Agency - In Qld call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).