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What is COVID-19, and How Australia is Responding? (Pt. 1)

COVID-19, more commonly referred to as the coronavirus, has been sweeping the world for the past few months. With borders shutting down, school terms being moved online, and social distancing and quarantining changing everyone’s daily lives, it’s understandable for people to become panicked and uncertain in these trying times. The spread of panic only increases when no one knows what’s being done for the overall population to mitigate the spread of this disease, so having that knowledge is crucial toward keeping everyone informed and prepared.

With this in mind, the Department of Health has made the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) available to the public in both its short -and- long-form.

For those who may not be aware, COVID-19 is part of a respiratory disease group that can lead to illnesses ranging from the common cold to pneumonia. COVID-19, however, is caused by a new type of coronavirus: severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It's known symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, and shortness of breath, and it’s spread through droplets that come from a sneeze or cough. Though there’s currently no treatment or vaccination, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working on developing one with the hope of it being ready within 18 months. Until then, practising proper hygiene is strongly encouraged, as is covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and maintaining social distancing ( about 1.5 meters away from others) when out in public.

While many people may only display mild symptoms, quarantining as instructed and maintaining social distance is important toward ensuring the health of your overall community, as some are more at risk for catching this disease than others. Those who are at a higher risk are more likely to show severe symptoms as well, making COVID-19 far more dangerous and potentially deadly than others may experience. As of the publication of the Response Plan, the most at-risk people were known to be the elderly and those with health issues such as diabetes, heart and lung disease, and cancer. This no longer remains the case , though, as more and more people under 60 and with no known underlying health conditions not only contract the disease, but end up dying from it as well.

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