Everyone should stay home unless you are: shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, for compassionate reasons, exercising or for work or education only if they cannot be done remotely.
At risk groups
We know that COVID-19 tends to cause more severe disease in older people, particularly people who are over 65 years of age and those over 60 years of age who have chronic health conditions (for a definition of chronic condition, visit the Australian Department of Health website. These people are more likely to have complications related to COVID-19, to require admission to an ICU, and to die as a result of COVID-19.
Sadly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a shorter life expectancy than the average for non-Indigenous Australians and are therefore at greater risk earlier in their lives. We also know that chronic medical conditions are more common among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians than non-Indigenous Australians. This means that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are at a higher risk of complications related to COVID-19, particularly those aged over 50 years.
Advice for seniors in the ACT
Following the National Cabinet meeting of 29 March 2020, the Prime Minister has urged older Australians aged 70 years and over to stay at home as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection.
This is the strong advice of the ACT Government also, and while not a formal direction, it is a precaution we would encourage people in these categories to consider for your own protection.
This does not mean you cannot leave your home, rather you should exercise caution and maintain physical distancing wherever possible.
The elderly and people with underlying medical conditions (such as diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease or suppressed immunity) are at more risk of severe illness or death if they are exposed to someone with COVID-19.
If you do not need to leave your home, please don’t.
If you do go outside for recreation purposes, please go with one support person only and limit interactions with others for the safety of your own health and others.
Should you require medical assistance for routine medical issues, please contact your GP in the first instance. For all emergency medical issues such chest pains, difficulty breathing and severe fever, please contact 000.
Any interactions outside of your household should ensure you maintain 1.5m between yourself and others at all times.
COVID-19 spreads from person to person, usually during close contact. This means practising good hygiene is the best defence against the spread of the virus.
Social distancing measures can also help to slow the spread of the virus within the population.
In addition, you should:
- Stay at home and avoid any social activities or gatherings if you’re feeling unwell.
- Not visit people in aged care or other residential care facilities, or people in hospitals if you are unwell.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Support for Seniors in the ACT, including essential services
Council of The Ageing (COTA) ACT continues to staff their Seniors Information Line which is open Monday to Friday, 9:00am - 5:00pm. Staff are available to take your calls, and listen to your concerns and provide advice.
They will be able to provide detail on the following services:
- ACT Seniors Cards and discounts
- social activities
- aged care and retirement options
- household assistance
- community and government services.
The Seniors Information Line can be reached on 6282 3777 or you can visit https://www.cotaact.org.au/.
To help support the shopping needs of vulnerable community members, some supermarket chains have introduced an exclusive shopping hour for individuals with appropriate government-issued concessionary identification.
Providers who are supporting this include:
- Woolworths Community Hour
- 7am - 8am Monday, Wednesday and Friday
- Coles Community Hour
- 7am - 8am Monday, Wednesday and Friday
- Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets – Seniors Shopping Hour
- 7am - 8am Thursday and Friday
Woolworths and Coles have also launched services to support vulnerable people to access delivery services, which you may be eligible for. Further information can be found at the following links:
- Woolworths Priority Assistance - https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/priorityassistance?icmpid=sm-hp-ribbon2:priority-assistance
- Coles Online Priority Service - https://shop.coles.com.au/a/national/content/priority-service-information
In addition, Woolworths has launched Woolworths Basics Box, which will assist to support community through the provision of meals, snacks and few essential items. You can register for this service by phoning the Woolworths Customer Care team on 1800 904 698 or visiting, https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/page/woolworths-basics-box?icmpid=sm-hp-ribbon3
On 20 March 2020, the ACT Government announced an economic survival package to support the ACT community through public health emergency caused by the COVID‑19 Pandemic.
This includes a Community Support Package, which will see us working with non‑government community partners to best meet the increased service demand for food relief in the ACT.
The Canberra Relief Network (CRN) is the ACT Government’s response to mobilise a collective effort across the sector to respond to an unprecedented demand for food relief and the provision of other essential items to vulnerable Canberrans during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The CRN can be contacted on 5104 9599.
Practising good hygiene
Good hygiene practises include:
- Washing your hands regularly for 20 to 30 seconds.
- Using a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water is not available.
- Using soap and water if your hands are visibly soiled.
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or coughing into your elbow.
- Disposing of used tissues into a bin immediately and washing your hands afterwards.
- Hand sanitiser is a convenient choice and can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.
- Hand sanitiser does not replace washing your hands after using the bathroom.
Canberrans are advised to take action now to reduce the risk of infection with COVID-19.
These interventions are known as ‘social distancing’ measures and can be very effective in slowing the spread of infectious diseases within the community.
From this point forward, you need to keep your personal space between you and others to at least 1.5 metres.
At 1.5 metres between you and everyone else, our community can still stay socially connected with one another, while reducing the spread of novel coronavirus.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing means separating yourself from other people as much as possible when you’re in public places and avoiding crowded places. Social distancing can be very effective, but it is recognised that it cannot be practised in all situations. The aim of social distancing is to reduce transmission of infectious diseases.
For non-essential activities outside the workplace or attendance at schools, universities and childcare, social distancing includes:
- Attempting to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and other people.
- Avoiding crowds and large public gatherings.
- Avoiding shaking hands, hugging, or kissing other people.
- Minimising visits to vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities or hospitals, infants, or people with compromised immune systems due to illness or medical treatment.
- Keeping connected with others, including colleagues, friends and family, through phone, email, social media, and online work platforms when possible.
These measures should be used if you are well. If you are unwell, you should stay at home.
Use of masks
If you are healthy, you do not need to wear a mask.
Masks are recommended for healthcare workers for when they are assessing and testing sick patients for COVID-19. They are also used for people who are unwell with respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing and sneezing) and people who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Masks help contain infectious droplets from sick people and keep those around them safe.
The best and easiest way to reduce your risk of getting sick and spreading disease is to follow good hygiene practises.