Hello! Welcome to Inspiro’s guide to managing Covid-19 in the Yarra Ranges.
There’s an overwhelming amount of information flying around right now so we thought it would be useful to put together some tips relevant to our community. We hope you find it helpful.
What you’ll find in this guide:
- How to prepare for a COVID-19 infection
- What to do if you’re a close contact or start to feel unwell
- What to do if you test positive for COVID-19
How to prepare for a Covid-19 infection
Chances are you or someone you know has already had Covid-19. The virus is widespread in the Yarra Ranges because of the highly infectious Omicron strain and reduced restrictions due to our high vaccination rate.
It’s still possible to be exposed despite taking precautions such as wearing masks, physically distancing, staying home and sanitising.
Below are some simple steps to help you prepare for a Covid-19 infection as best you can.
1. Put together a COVID-19 kit
There’s no time like the present to prepare your household for a Covid-19 infection. Hopefully you won’t need to use this kit but you won’t regret being organised if you do.
Here’s what to include:
- A thermometer
- Pain relief (paracetamol and ibuprofen)
- An adequate supply of your regular medications and any specialised equipment you need daily
- Face masks, hand sanitiser, disinfectant and disposable gloves
- Activities, games, books and hobby supplies (and possibly a good streaming service!)
- A list of useful phone numbers -- your GP, Nurse on Call, Head to Health, local chemist and your own contacts who could help you out
- A working phone, chargers and enough data for a period of isolation
- Enough food and essential supplies, such as toilet paper and nappies
- Rapid antigen tests (RATs) (These will soon become more available. In the meantime, consider pre-ordering some online. Providers predict them to be posted in early February)
- Consider buying an oximeter for the household. This device can help you monitor your symptoms. Find out how to use an oximeter.
2. Pre-prepare some meals and freeze them.
Even if you manage to avoid getting sick, it’s always worthwhile having a backup for when life throws curve balls or you’d like to help someone else in need.
Inspiro’s dieticians recommend the Dietitians Australia website for great advice on nutrition and preparing meals during Covid-19.
3. Embrace online grocery deliveries.
While you might usually visit the supermarket to shop for food, now is a good time to familiarise yourself with the way online ordering works. Build an online shopping cart that’s ready to go if you do become unwell.
As well as large supermarket chains such as Woolworths and Coles, there are plenty of local providers in the Yarra Ranges that can deliver your groceries straight to your door.
For fresh fruit and veggies, contact:
For organic produce, contact:
For meat, contact:
For general groceries, contact:
4. Have your medication home delivered.
Did you know you can get your regular prescription medicines delivered? This service is available from any chemist and GP that uses electronic scripts (or e-scripts).
It’s best to set this up before you need to go into isolation. Ask your GP to send your script via SMS or email, either to yourself or your chemist. The message will contain a code that enables your chemist to fulfill and send your prescriptions.
Please check with your local doctor and local pharmacy to see if they offer this service.
Order your prescriptions online at:
5. Tee up at-home childcare.
Although all household members will need to isolate when a COVID-19 infection is confirmed or probable, it’s smart to plan ahead in case someone in your house needs to go to hospital.
The rest of the household will need to continue to isolate so it’s a good idea to find someone who can continue to care for the children in the household. This person will need to isolate in the household too.
If someone in your household becomes very unwell, it’s best to contact Nurse on Call (1300 606 024), a GP or the COVID Positive Pathways Program. You’ll hear from the COVID Positive Pathways program if you test positive, so they can work out the level of care you will need. This service is coordinated by Eastern Health in the Yarra Ranges.
6. Plan your pet’s care ahead of time.
Pets can be a great comfort when we are feeling unwell however will still need the same level of care while you’re isolating. For example, investigate local dog walking services ahead of time to find out their rates, credentials and availability. This is a good opportunity to let them know about your dog’s personality and needs in advance so they can be ready to help if needed.
Some local services that offer dog walking and pet care:
7. Get vaccinated
Data shows that people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 experience less severe disease. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.
Where to get COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters
It’s important to get your third dose (booster) to keep up your immunity. You ‘re now eligible for your booster shot if you are over 18 and had your second shot more than three months ago.
Learn more about vaccinations and boosters at coronavirus.vic.gov.au. Things are changing rapidly so it’s a good idea to check this site to keep up to date with any changes in eligibility or advice.
How to find a vaccination appointment
Bookings at GPs and pharmacies throughout the Yarra Ranges are available now and you can also get vaccinated at the EACH vaccination centre in Ringwood.
Feeling unwell or a close contact?
So, you’ve started to develop COVID-19 symptoms or you’re a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. This is what you should do next.
1. Take a COVID-19 test
An over-the-counter rapid antigen test (RAT) is recommended in most cases. You can get them from pharmacies and supermarkets and some testing sites.
Be aware, due to a backlog of tests, your PCR results could take over 7 days to get back to you. You can use the Government’s map of pathology testing centres to see wait times.2. Isolate at home
You must isolate while you wait for your test results and for 7 days or until you no longer have symptoms if you test positive for COVID-19. Visitors must not come to the house while you’re isolating.3. Contact your close contacts
If you test positive for COVID-19, your household and household-like contacts must isolate for 7 days and take regular RAT tests.
Your social and other contacts must get tested if they have symptoms.
If you were onsite at work while infectious, you must tell your workplace that you tested positive for COVID-19. Your employer must advise your workplace contacts that they must:
- use a RAT if they develop symptoms or get a PCR if they can’t access a RAT
- take a RAT daily for 5 days if they don't have symptoms
Likewise, if you or your child visited a school, childcare or early childhood centre while infectious, you must let the education facility know you tested positive for COVID-19 so they can inform staff and other students.4. Monitor your health
Most people with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate flu-like symptoms but some become extremely sick.
To manage your symptoms at home you should:
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat healthy food
- Take medicines as advised by your doctor or pharmacist
Talk to a GP if your symptoms worsen.
If your symptoms are getting worse or you’re concerned that something is wrong, call your GP as soon as possible or contact a service like Nurse on Call 1300 606 024 for advice.
Get immediate help if you have severe symptoms.
If you develop severe symptoms, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics that you have COVID-19.
Severe symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Coughing up blood
- Lips or face turning blue
- Clammy skin
- Severe headaches or dizziness
- Fainting or feeling like fainting often
- Unable to get out of bed
- Finding it hard to keep your eyes open
Which type of COVID-19 test to take
In Australia, we use two types of tests to diagnose COVID-19—the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) and the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test.
RATS are home tests that you administer yourself with a nasal swab or spit sample. Results are usually available within 15 minutes. RATs are not as accurate as PCR tests.
PCR tests are administered by a healthcare worker and are the most reliable way to diagnose COVID-19. A sample is taken from your nose and throat and sent to a lab. Results are usually available within 1 to 3 days, although there can be delays.
You should get a rapid antigen test if:
- you have COVID-19 symptoms or are a contact of someone with COVID-19. Get a PCR test if you can’t access a RAT.
- you want to check you don’t have COVID-19 before attending a social gathering or visiting vulnerable people.
- your school or workplace asks you to screen yourself before entering the premises.
You should get a PCR test if:
- you have COVID-19 symptoms and can't access a RAT
- you're a close contact and don’t have symptoms and can’t access a RAT
- you test positive on a RAT but don’t have symptoms and need to confirm your results. (This doesn’t apply if you have symptoms or if you’re a close contact.)
How to report a positive rapid antigen test
If you test positive on a rapid antigen test (RAT), you must:
- Report your result online or via the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398
- Immediately isolate for 7 days from the day you took the RAT
- Tell your close contacts – including people you saw two days before you noticed symptoms.
After you report your result, you will be contacted by a health professional and enrolled in a care pathway if you need it. Someone will contact you regularly to enquire about your symptoms to observe whether you need medical attention.
COVID-19 testing hacks
Find a COVID-19 testing site near you
Navigate testing site wait times
- Register ahead of time
- Get there early, before open times if possible
- Wear an N95 mask whenever you leave the car or if you’re standing in line
- Know where the toilets are
- Bring snacks and plenty of water
- Pass the time with fun activities – bring a book, listen to music or a podcast
- If in your car, take your dog along to keep you company (and calm!)
Prepare young children for testing
- Explain what your child should expect.
Describe what will happen, how long it will take, and how it might feel when the swab goes in. You can use pre-prepared scripts and pictures to help you illustrate your points.
- Distract your child while you wait.
Long wait times can quickly lead to boredom, frustration or increased anxiety. Come prepared with music, books, games or YouTube videos.
- Use comfort positioning during the swab instead of restraint.
If you’re in a drive through, sit side-by-side next to your child with your arms wrapped around them. If you’re in a testing centre, younger kids can sit on your lap facing sideways or with their back to your chest.
- Coach your child to stay relaxed during the swab.
Tell your child to look up or close their eyes, take deep belly breaths and count silently to 20 to draw their attention away from the swab.
- Praise and reassure your child afterwards.
Talk about something they did well during the swab and remind them that getting tested doesn’t necessarily mean they have the virus and that they’ll be fine either way.
If you test positive for COVID-19 and are worried you will lose income while isolating at home as instructed by the Department of Health, you may be eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.
This Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment is also available for eligible close contacts of cases who are quarantining and for those who are unable to work while caring for someone who is isolating. Learn more on the Services Australia website.
If you receive Centrelink payments and are in financial hardship, find out if you meet the eligibility criteria for the One-off crisis payment.
How to look after your mental wellbeing
Having COVID-19 and/or being in isolation is an unfamiliar experience that can be challenging and distressing. Talking about it can help.
Here are just a few mental health support services you can reach out to:
- Your GP can help you access free or low-cost support
- Head to Health can give you advice and help you access local support services -- call them on 1800 595 212
- Beyond Blue has launched the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service for people who need counselling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Call 1800 512 348 to speak with a trained mental health professional 24 hours, 7 days a week.
- Lifeline provides support to people experiencing emotional distress.
You can speak with a trained crisis supporter:
- over the phone on 13 11 14 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
- through online chat, every night from 7pm to midnight AET
- via text on 0477 13 11 14, between 6pm and midnight AET, 7 days a week
What to do if you contract COVID-19
Tested positive for COVID-19? Here are our hints for managing isolation.
How to isolate when sharing a house
First things first, inform everyone who lives in your house as soon as possible. They must isolate for 7 days and take a RAT on day 6, which must be negative before they can leave isolation.
Stay in your room:
- maintain physical distancing as much as possible
- This may mean staying in a separate section of the house.
- You should stay and sleep in a room away from others.
- If possible, use a separate bathroom. If not possible, clean the bathroom after each use.
- Don’t share household items such as dishes, cups, towels and bedding. Wash these items thoroughly with soap after you use them
- Wear a face mask when you’re in common areas if you cannot isolate completely.
- handle your own belongings
Make sure to:
- Get lots of rest
- Stay hydrated (water is best). Drink enough so your urine is light yellow and almost clear.
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you need to.
- Keep in contact with family and friends (not face to face) so they can check on you.
Pay attention to hygiene.
- Always cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Use a tissue and throw it out straight away.
- Regularly clean all surfaces you touch, such as benches, door handles, light switches and bathroom fixtures.
- Keep windows and front and back doors open as much as possible to let the fresh air blow through. If you have ceiling fans, keep them running at low speed.
- If you need to be in the same room as someone else at home, always wear a face mask and keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from other household members.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds after you:
- cough or sneeze
- blow your nose
- touch your face
- remove gloves or masks
- And regularly throughout the day.
Other people who are isolating in the house can have contact with each other (but not with you) as long as they don’t have symptoms.
How to look after someone with COVID-19
If the person is in your home:
- Practice physical distancing
- When leaving meals, leave them at the door and ask the person to collect the meal after you have left the area.
- You can have a friend or family member drop off essential supplies at your door. They must not enter your house and you can collect the supplies after they leave.
- You can have supplies dropped off that you have ordered online as long as you collect them after the delivery driver has left.
Visit the Government’s coronavirus website to find out if you’re eligible for food and financial assistance.
Caring for children with COVID-19:
Most children who test positive for COVID-19 can be safely cared for at home by their usual household carers, even if they are not vaccinated.
When caring for your child at home:
- Dress your child in appropriate, comfortable clothing to avoid sweating or shivering
- Give your child plenty of fluids to drink. They may not feel like drinking much so will need your help and encouragement.
- Encourage your child to rest.
- Give your child paracetamol or ibuprofen if you think they're in pain or uncomfortable with a fever. Follow the instructions on the label and don’t give more than recommended in a 24-hour period, as this may harm your child.
- Watch your child for signs that their illness is getting worse.
Key signs to look out for:
- persistent fever (>39°C) which is not responding to treatment
- mild breathlessness
- drinking less than half of what they would normally drink
- urine output less than half of usual volume, and urine dark in colour
- moderate vomiting or diarrhoea
- unable to stand or walk.
Rules for completing isolation
If you test positive on an at-home Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) you don’t need to get a PCR test.
- You do need to report your results online or call 1800 675 398.
- You must isolate at home for 7 days until you return a negative RAT result and 10 days if you still have symptoms.
- If you worked onsite while infectious, you must tell your employer or workplace that you have tested positive for COVID-19.
- If you or your child attended an education facility (school, childcare or early childhood) while infectious, you must tell the education facility you tested positive for COVID-19.
- Tell your social contacts that you have tested positive so they can get tested if they need to do so.
If your social contacts develop symptoms, they must take a rapid antigen test or PCR test if they can’t access a rapid antigen test.
- If they don’t have symptoms, it’s recommended that they take a daily RAT for 5 days.
- People who are your household or household-like contacts cannot follow this advice. They must isolate for 7 days.
Government mandates for essential workers
Information in this space is rapidly evolving. Find the most up-to-date information
What to do about COVID-19 symptoms
Most people will have minor COVID-19 symptoms, especially if they’re fully vaccinated and otherwise healthy. Most people will be able to monitor their symptoms at home while isolating.
Emergency services are working at full capacity so it’s important to know when you need to get medical advice.
If concerned, ask yourself:
- Can I get and consume my own food and drink?
- Can I go to the toilet normally?
- Can I take regular medication?
If you answer no to any of those questions:
- call your GP for a telehealth appointment or contact Nurse on Call 1300 606 024 (available 24/7).
If you have a chronic health condition or are pregnant:
- call your GP for a telehealth appointment for guidance.
When to go to hospital:
Call 000 or go straight to the hospital if you have any of these symptoms.
- You have difficulty breathing or severe shortness of breath
- Find it hard to finish sentences, or become breathless when you talk and struggle to finish sentences
- Coughing up blood
- Significant chest pain or pressure
- Collapse or faint
- Skin becomes cold, clammy, pale or mottled
- Severe headaches or dizziness
- Confusion (for example, you can’t recall the day, time or people’s names)
- Skin or lips turn blue
Make sure to tell the healthcare workers that you have COVID-19.
You can check your symptoms using the Government’s online symptom checker.
We’ve done our best to create a helpful local guide to managing Covid-19 in the Yarra Ranges but guidelines and regulations change rapidly so some of this advice may go out of date quickly. We recommend checking the Victorian Government’s coronavirus website to access the latest advice, guidelines and support available.
We’ve listed local businesses that may be useful if you need help or to isolate but this is not a comprehensive list, and inclusion doesn’t mean we recommend or endorse them. We just encourage you - our community - to try local if possible.