Coronavirus (COVID-19)

It is a time of great uncertainty as the Kimberley faces the threat of COVID-19.  KAMS and our member services are working hard to keep you and your community safe and strong.
We hope our web page can be used to help the region stay educated and informed about COVID-19:

1. Community information and resources
2. Workforce resources (including COVID-19 travel policies and leave policies)
3. Clinical links and information

What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19?)

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19.

How do you catch it?

The coronavirus is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:

  • Direct close contact with a person while they are infectious
    Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes, or
    Touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face.
  • Most infections are only transmitted by people when they have symptoms. These can include fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness and shortness of breath.

Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.

Why are patients isolated when they have COVID-19?

Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others. That is why these patients are being isolated either in the hospital or at home (depending on how sick they are) until they are better and no longer pose a risk of infecting others.

How long someone is actively sick can vary so the decision on when to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with doctors, infection prevention and control experts, and public health officials and involves considering specifics of each situation including disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and results of laboratory testing for that patient.
Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others.

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other colds and flus and can include:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • tiredness
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of smell or taste

It is important to remember that many people displaying these symptoms are likely suffering with a cold or other respiratory illness – not coronavirus.

Symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some infected people don’t develop symptoms, nor do they feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover without needing special treatment.

Around 1 out of every 6 infected people become seriously ill and develop breathing difficulties.

What advice is KAMS giving people about protecting themselves from COVID-19?

KAMS is encouraging community members to contact their healthcare professional if they feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if they have recently travelled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

If you can, call your clinic before you go to let them know how you are, that helps the clinic get ready to look after you.

Clean hands often
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact
Keep at least 1.5m (or 2 big steps) away from all people, especially people you don’t live with

It is especially important for older people or people with other health problems like diabetes, heart problems or kidney problems to avoid mixing with lots of people and to stay home as much as possible

Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Stay home if you are sick
Except to get medical care.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Wear a facemask if you are sick

If sick: You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before entering a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), cover coughs and sneezes.

If NOT sick: Do not wear a facemask unless caring for someone who is sick. Facemasks are in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

Clean and disinfect
Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

The plan is to prevent the virus getting into our remote communities and, failing that, slowing the progression of the virus so that health services don’t get overwhelmed.

The WA Premier has stated that West Australians would be required to wear a face mask if WA experiences a Victoria style outbreak of COVID-19. The Premier stated that experience around the world showed that wearing a face mask when the virus is present was necessary. In an outbreak, wearing a face mask may be especially important in situations where physical distancing (staying 2 big steps away from other people) can’t be maintained.

What is the treatment and when do you expect a vaccine for COVID-19 to be available in the Kimberley?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses. Most of the symptoms can be treated with supportive medical care.

Currently there is no vaccination for COVID-19 and the World Health Organisation (WHO) does not expect a vaccine to become available for at least 12 months.
KAMS will work closely with WACHS public health teams to ensure that when the vaccine does become available all eligible patients are vaccinated in an efficient and timely manner.

What can be done to minimise impact?

KAMS would like to see that no Kimberley Aboriginal person contracts COVID-19. This is because it will be much easier for it to be transmitted due to the close contact between community members and the movement between communities.

There are things we can do to minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 and spreading it if we are sick. Anybody with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell should attend their local COVID-19 clinic, hospital or remote health centre to have a COVID-19 test. This is especially important for anyone who works in health/aged care/residential care, has had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case or has come from interstate in the last 14 days.

Avoid mixing with other groups of people who don’t live in your house, stay 2 big steps away from others, wash your hands throughout the day, cover your cough and sneeze, try not to touch your face, and contact your clinic if you are feeling unwell.