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If my friends ask me to go to dinner, should I go? Your COVID-19 questions, answered.

The ever-changing information regarding the coronavirus pandemic can be overwhelming. In fact, just living through it is overwhelming.

Worldwide, the spread of COVID-19 is not showing any signs of slowing. At the time of reporting, there are over 15 million confirmed cases of coronavirus, and over 600,000 deaths. 

There's a lot we don't know about the new illness. Below, we've collated some of the most common questions we all still have about COVID-19, and their answers. 

The information has been gathered from Australian government health departments, the World Health Organisation, and what epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists have told Mamamia.

Here's what we know. 

Should I wear a face mask?

If you live in Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, masks or face coverings are mandatory. There is a $200 fine for people caught in public without one (with some exemptions). 

Elsewhere, the debate on healthy individuals wearing masks in the wider community has not reached a consensus, according to the World Health Organisation

The Australian Government Health Department does, however, say that wearing a mask can help protect yourself and people around you when you are in situations where physical distancing is not possible.

Face masks are now mandatory in Melbourne. Image: Getty.  

What does the current COVID-19 test involve?

The coronavirus test is free in Australia, and what test you have will depend on your location. (Although the test itself is free, you may need to pay to see your GP if they don't offer bulk billing).

The most widely-used test in Australia involves a swab from the back of your throat and nose which takes about a minute. The swabs are then sent to laboratories for testing for COVID-19. The test is known to be quite uncomfortable.

In Victoria, there is a saliva test, which is reportedly less intrusive. The test involves collecting saliva in your mouth for a couple of minutes and then spitting into a jar. The fluid is then sent to a lab for testing. Although the test is considered less intrusive, there are some indications it is less reliable.

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Is it safe to buy groceries?

There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmitted through food or food packaging.

Has the coronavirus mutated into a more dangerous version of itself?

With the number of new cases breaking records in Victoria, there are concerns the virus has mutated into a more dangerous version of itself. Dr Sanjaya Senanayake, an Infectious Diseases Specialist from the Australian National University, told Mamamia last week that doesn't appear to be the case. 

"The reality is this could all just be that it's the same virus behaving the same way... It may be more a human behaviour issue than a change in the virus that has led to this outbreak in Victoria."

Is public transport safe?

Throughout the pandemic, public transport has continued to operate with risk-mitigation and strict health and hygiene practices in place. As long as you abide by physical distancing rules and practice good hygiene, public transport is safe. 

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 

If my friends ask me to go to dinner, should I go?

If you live in Melbourne or Mitchell Shire, it is against the law for you to go to dinner with another household right now. 

But for residents in other states and territories in Australia, you are permitted to attend social gatherings – although there are different restrictions in place for different states. 

Everyone should still keep their distance from other people and maintain good hygiene. It's also a good idea to ask those in attendance if they are feeling any symptoms of illness before meeting with them.

Can you get COVID-19 twice?

The science is unclear. The World Health Organisation says there is not yet sufficient evidence to prove people are protected from a second infection once recovered from COVID-19.

Is it more safe to be outdoors or indoors?

It is largely understood that it is more safe outdoors, than indoors, when it comes to the chance of being infected with coronavirus. 

In fact, a Japanese study found you are 20 times more likely to contract coronavirus indoors than you are outdoors. This is partly because wind disperses viral droplets, mitigating the risk of infection. 

Are children at risk of contracting COVID-19?

According to WHO, children and adolescents up to 18 years of age represent up to three per cent of reported coronavirus infections. This age group makes up 29 per cent of the global population.

Most children and adolescents who do contract COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms and recover within one to two weeks.

Most children and adolescents who do contract COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms. Image: Getty.  

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Are schools safe?

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) insists schools are safe, and says evidence suggests that the spread of COVID-19 within schools is limited.

States and territories are making decisions regarding schools based on local circumstances. 

At the moment, schools are open in Australia except in Melbourne, where Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has ordered some year groups to learn from home during lockdown due to the state's high number of coronavirus infections. 

Is there a treatment for COVID-19 yet?

No. 

The Australian Government says there are reports that some drugs can be used to treat COVID-19, but there are no drugs that have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to treat COVID-19 in Australia.

What is the latest on the coronavirus vaccine?

There are more than 140 vaccines for COVID-19 being tested around the world. This week, it was announced a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Britain's Oxford University appears to be safe and to produce immunity.

The British government has already ordered 100 million doses of the potential vaccine.

Still, it doesn't seem likely a COVID-19 vaccine will be widely available until at least 2021.

Is the COVIDSafe app working?

The app has not found a single coronavirus contact not already detected by tracers. 

How do you die from coronavirus?

"It looks like a large proportion of those [who pass away from the virus] are getting a lot of inflammation in the lungs and a smaller proportion are also getting failure of other organs, such as the kidneys," Dr Sanjaya Sanananyaka previously told Mamamia. 

Is COVID-19 airborne?

This month, 239 scientists in 32 countries wrote to the World Health Organisation saying they have sufficient evidence to suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted via air particles. This is in contrast to the initial information on the novel coronavirus, which said the virus spread from person-to-person interaction, via droplets from the nose or mouth. 

A consensus on the subject has not yet been reached. 

Feature Image: Getty.


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