Staying Healthy

Some of the most commonly asked health questions on COVID-19 by delivery drivers.

Section i. About Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Take a minute to go over some basic information about this virus and how it spreads.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. The disease was unknown until the first outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019.

The disease spreads through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.

Studies have shown that the virus is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air, i.e., you are more prone to a high risk of infection by coming in contact with contaminated surfaces.

It is not certain how long the virus survives on surfaces. Studies suggest that coronaviruses may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
The most common symptoms are dry cough, fatigue, fever, body aches, nasal congestion, and sore throat. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress.
So far, most often symptoms present themselves typically in 5 to 6 days although the range may vary from 2 to 14 days.
Regarding the fatality rate, the risk of death with a coronavirus infection (commonly estimated at about 1%) is far less than it was for SARS (11%) and MERS (35%), but higher than the risk from seasonal flu (which averages about 0.1%).
Though no one is safe, senior adults (60 and above) are at an increased risk for severe illness or death. However, anyone with an underlying medical condition, regardless of their age, faces increased risk of serious illness.
As of now, there is no specific treatment available for COVID-19. Most often, people recover at home after self-isolation. For serious complications, you may have to be hospitalised/seek medical advice. On who to contact see ‘I feel sick and might be infected with the virus. How do I know?’

Section ii. Preventing infection

By now, all of us are taking steps to prevent infection. As delivery workers, you are on the frontline and face higher probability of exposure. Thus, we have put together advice from experts to provide you information at a glance.

Since you are at higher risk due the nature of your work, it is important to follow measures carefully to remain safe. Some recommendations from SafeWork Australia include:

Cleaning tips

  • Regularly clean and disinfect your bicycle, scooter or car including steering wheel, handles, buttons and keys.
  • Clean and disinfect your phone or electronic device used to help deliver food or parcels. Disinfect these often by using a lint-free cloth and 70% isopropyl alcohol if you can, or disinfectant wipes.

Hygiene

  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose with unwashed (or gloved) hands.
  • Clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Washing body, hair (including facial hair) and clothes thoroughly every day.
  • Wash your hands after coming into contact with any surface.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow. Remember to put tissues in the bin.

Physical distancing

  • Maintain a 1.5 metre distance to others (two arms length).
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Ensure that you follow procedures regarding contactless delivery and encourage customers to do the same.

If you feel ill, check your symptoms and reach out to Australian Government’s National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. Do not go to the hospital – you must call before visiting your GP or the hospital emergency department.

If you have severe shortness of breath, immediately call triple zero (000) and inform them of your situation.

Currently in Australia, there are only a limited number of testing kits available. So, to be tested, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You have returned from overseas in the past 14 days or spent time on a cruise ship, and you develop respiratory illness, with or without fever.
  • You have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days and you develop respiratory illness, with or without fever.
  • You have severe community-acquired pneumonia and there is no clear cause (including patients who have already been hospitalised for this condition).
  • You have a fever or acute respiratory infection and you work in the healthcare or aged/residential care sectors, or you have spent time in a location that’s defined by a state or territory as having an elevated risk of community transmission, or you have spent time at a “high-risk” location where there are two or more linked cases of COVID-19, such as an aged-care home, a remote Aboriginal community, a correctional facility, a boarding school, or a military base (including Navy ships) with live-in accommodation.

In all states and territories you can only get tested if you meet the criteria above, but some states have expanded their criteria.

  • In New South Wales, GPs have discretion to test anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Victoria has introduced random testing at screening centres, testing every fifth person
  • Queensland will offer testing for people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and live in a Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities
  • In Western Australia, if you have fever of 38 and over and have signs of a respiratory infection, you may be tested.
  • In South Australia, anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 and has been at the airport in the past 14 days, including the carpark or terminal, should also get tested.
Your doctor will tell you if you should be tested and arrange it accordingly. After testing, if you have serious symptoms you will be kept in the hospital and isolated from other patients. If your doctor says you are well enough to go home while you wait for your test results, you should: self-isolate at home and do not attend work or school; protect yourself and others.

It is important to follow your doctor’s advice. COVID-19 is now a notifiable condition under the law, which means all cases and suspected cases must be reported to health authorities. If you do not comply, you may be heavily penalised.

Public health officers will contact you every day to check on your condition and let you know when it’s safe to return to normal activities (likely to be 1 day after your symptoms have disappeared). They will also give you a phone number to call if you have questions.

Section iii. Insurance

If you are on a visa, you are bound to be worried about treatment costs that may take a big chunk out of your savings. Here we answer the questions all of us have been asking.

Public hospitals, respiratory clinics and GPs can perform COVID-19 tests for free for people who fall under the criteria to get tested. The government has provided funding for 100 pop-up respiratory clinics across Australia with many already opened.

For people who have access to medicare, testing as well as treatment is free.

Most people who are not eligible for Medicare have private insurance. If you do not have adequate insurance cover, some states and territories (such as NSW, Victoria and WA) will waive healthcare costs associated with COVID-19 if a person is treated in a public hospital.

You may also be covered under a reciprocal agreement. Australia has agreements with Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Under these agreements most visa holders are covered for basic medical care.

Based on your insurance provider guidelines, you may be able to get free treatment. Many providers are covering up to 85% for telehealth services and 100% for pathology tests as well as visits to the GP.

Section iv. Miscellaneous updates

Worried about the daily change in news? We are working hard to answer your evolving queries so you can focus on your family, health, and safety.

Simply put, yes, you can become infected and be asymptomatic. Though WHO claims that just 1-3% of the infected show no symptoms, these figures are believed to be actually higher as testing is still selective.

For people who have access to medicare, testing as well as treatment is free.

Though it may be better to not experience symptoms, being asymptomatic is more dangerous as you could spread the virus in the community without realising that you are infected.
Increasing evidence suggests that a lost sense of smell, medically known as anosmia, may be a symptom of COVID-19. This is not surprising, because viral infections (like when you get a cold) are a leading cause of loss of sense of smell, and COVID-19 is also caused by a virus. Similarly, a  loss of taste has been associated with COVID-19 symptoms through some studies. However, none of them have yet been listed as an official symptom.

Australia’s public health authorities have advised face masks as essential for health care workers but recommended that the general public abstain from wearing them. There is little evidence that shows that wearing a mask can prevent transmission.

If you are experiencing symptoms or to prevent touching your face, it is better to cover your nose and mouth with cloth/mask to prevent others from falling sick. N95 masks are the most effective. However, there is a global shortage of them right now.

Other Resources

Financial Support
Getting financial support from the government & boosting your income as a freelancer.
Information Centre
Resources and links from the WHO, Govt. of Australia, Dept. Of Health and more.
Partner Resources
Resources shared by platform economy companies to help their partner riders and drivers.
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