CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19): ADVICE TO MEMBERS/CLUBS

by Aaron Delaporte

Updated: March 29, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is increasingly having an impact on the global community and is a rapidly evolving issue.

Government organisations, public health units and the World Health Organisation (WHO) continue to provide accurate, timely and detailed updates relevant to the whole community.

The resource below is intended to provide an overview of the currently available information from the Australian Federal Government related to the virus and what measures and precautions members of the Australian bowls community should put in place.

(State governments have enacted their own strict measures to limit any non-essential activities. Please check with your relevant state or territory government authority for your local restrictions.)

Latest bowls-specific advice:

National and International events affected:

  • 2020 World Bowls Championships – POSTPONED INDEFINITELY
  • 2020 Australian Open – CANCELLED (All entry fee payments for this year’s event will be refunded in full.)
  • 2020 Australian Indoor Championships – CANCELLED

Support measures for clubs, employees & participants:

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. Symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia. Some people recover easily, others may get very sick very quickly. There is evidence that it spreads from person to person. Good hygiene can prevent infection.

COVID-19 was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China.

The most common symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. It can be difficult to tell the difference between COVID-19 and other common respiratory illness particularly in the early stages of illness. Individuals should consult with their doctor by calling ahead. The doctor can take a thorough history, including travel history, perform a physical exam and make a recommendation regarding testing for COVID-19.

How unwell does COVID-19 make you?

COVID-19 results in a spectrum of illness ranging from possible asymptomatic carriage, common cold to severe cases requiring hospital admission. In a small minority of cases, COVID-19 can be fatal.

How contagious is COVID-19 and how does it spread?

Analysis of the number of cases from the Diamond Princess suggests that COVID-19 is more contagious than seasonal influenza.

This can change based on the circumstances the outbreak is occurring in and it is expected this will be refined over time as more is known.

The virus is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets. There is ongoing research to determine if there are other possible modes of transmission such as faecal or through the air.

What is currently known about the clinical course of infection?

The estimated incubation period is between 1-14 days but is about five days on average. The incubation period is the time from when exposure to the virus occurs until symptoms start. Symptoms can persist for longer than three weeks, although the duration of illness will be highly variable.

How do I reduce my risk of getting COVID-19?

Hand hygiene remains the single best action individuals can take to reduce their risk of acquiring any respiratory or gastrointestinal tract infection. While COVID-19 is a global concern the number of cases of influenza globally far outweighs the number of COVID-19 as reported on the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS). Annual influenza vaccination remains an important infection prevention measure.

You should be vigilant with frequent hand washing using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Make sure you adhere to ‘illness etiquette’. If you are coughing and sneezing, do so away from people into a tissue, your elbow or hands. If you cough or sneeze into your hands, make sure you wash your hands afterwards. Seek medical review early if you are feeling unwell.

Who is most at risk?

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:

  • recently been in in a high-risk country or region (mainland China, Iran, Italy or Korea)
  • been in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19

Based on what we know about coronaviruses, those most at risk of serious infection are:

  • people with compromised immune systems (such as people who have cancer)
  • elderly people
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (as they have higher rates of chronic illness)
  • people with chronic medical conditions
  • people in group residential settings
  • people in detention facilities

Good hygiene

Everyone must practise good personal hygiene to protect against infection and prevent the virus from spreading.

Good hygiene includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • disposing of tissues properly
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
  • cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets

Practise good hygiene by sneezing into your elbow or a tissue, dispose of the tissue, wash your hands and use sanitiser

Social distancing

One way to slow the spread of viruses is social distancing. There are practical things you can do, to protect those more susceptible to the virus.

Households

  • Practice good hand and cough/sneeze hygiene
  • Avoid handshaking and other physical greetings
  • Regularly clean shared high-touch surfaces, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
  • Increase the amount of fresh air by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning
  • Buy more goods and services online so you limit visits to the shop
  • Consider what travel and outings are necessary, both individual and family, and go to open places such as parks

Social distancing in the workplace

To reduce the spread of germs in the workplace:

  • Stay at home if you are sick
  • Consider if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled
  • Stop handshaking and other physical greetings
  • Hold meetings via video conferencing or phone call
  • Reconsider non-essential business travel
  • Defer large face-to-face meetings
  • Hold essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
  • Promote good hand and cough/sneeze hygiene and provide hand sanitisers for all staff and workers
  • Take lunch outside rather than in the lunch room
  • Clean and disinfect shared high-touch surfaces regularly
  • Consider opening windows and adjusting air conditioning for more fresh air
  • Limit food handling and shared food in the workplace
  • Promote strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts

Surgical masks

Surgical masks in the community are only helpful in preventing people who have coronavirus disease from spreading it to others.

If you are well, you do not need to wear a surgical mask. There is little evidence that widespread use of surgical masks in healthy people prevents transmission in public.


Keep up to date with developments

Coronavirus Health Information Line

Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.