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Coronavirus: The Facts

Sonder Safe   |   Feb 7, 2020 10:30:00 AM
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Sonder utilises trusted and credible sources to be able to share precise, consolidated information about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with our partners, members and international students enrolled in universities and colleges across Australia and NZ who may be otherwise be unsure who to turn to for help. Our sources include the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies to ensure the information we provide to you is accurate.

How serious is COVID-19 in Australia?

Due to widely available public information on infection control practices and biosecurity measures that have been put into place, infections in Australia and New Zealand are rare. There have only been 22 confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 in Australia, ten of those infected have already recovered. The New Zealand Ministry of Health confirms that no cases have been identified in New Zealand. 

Following WHO best practices for naming of new human infectious diseases, which were developed in consultation and collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), WHO has named the disease COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.” 

The WHO has declared a public health emergency of international concern in order to help prevent further spread of the disease globally and to allocate resources to the prevention and cure of COVID-19. Study in Australia has also issued this statement in relation to travel to and from China. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) updated their advisory on travel to China on 2nd February 2020 to “Do not travel” to China. You can find the most current DFAT advisory on travel to China here. Although there have been no new cases in Australia since 13th February, the AHPCC has recommended that travel restrictions remain in place until the 27th February, upon which they will be reviewed. This review will be based on any further confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The Australian Department of Health has been frequently updating their webpage. For those based in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health has issued health advice cards, which are available here. These cards provide general advice on symptoms of concern. 

What can I do to help prevent infection?

In a bid to keep up healthy habits and personal hygiene (wherever in the world you are), the World Health Organisation recommends that you:

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • Cover your nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing with a tissue or your flexed elbow
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold and flu-like symptoms
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products

What if I suspect I am infected?

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention advises that coronavirus symptoms are:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • fever
  • a general feeling of being unwell

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, avoid contact with others and seek professional medical advice from your GP.

In Australia, contact your GP or call HealthDirect, and advise them of your symptoms and travel history. 

In New Zealand, call Healthline (for free) on 0800 611 116 and be sure to refer to your travel history.

Feeling anxious, worried, or have concerns about your mental health?

We understand this can be a stressful time. It is OK to feel anxious or concerned. If these feelings are overwhelming, if you have thoughts about hurting yourself or committing suicide, or if you just want to talk to someone, there are many places for you to get support, confidentially. 

In Australia, contact one of these National- 24 hr advice &  support services:

  • Health Direct 1800 022 222
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (under 25 yrs, parent & teachers)

In New Zealand, you can contact: 

  • Healthline  0800 611 116
  • Lifeline 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE)
  • Need to talk? Text 1737 anytime or free call 0800 1737 1737 (if calling through a switchboard)
  • Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or free text 4202
  • Samaritans 0800 726 666
  • Healthpoint NZ healthcare providers
  • Maori Health Provider Directory

Children & Youth

  • Youthline 0800 376 633 or free text 234, email talk@youthline.co.nz or webchat www.youthline.co.nz (webchat is only available from 7pm-11pm) for children, youth, parents, whanau & friends
  • Kidsline 0800 543 754 (0800 KIDSLINE)
  • What’s Up 0800 942 8787 (0800 WHATSUP) or webchat www.whatsup.co.nz  (webchat is only available 5pm-10pm for 5-18yr olds)
  • The Lowdown www.thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626
How does Sonder help international student members?
  • We have a team dedicated to sourcing intelligence - some of which is not publicly available, meaning we discard rumours and misinformation. You can be confident that the information we relay to you here is correct.
  • Members can contact Sonder 24/7 with any issue related to their physical health, wellbeing, mental health or other concerns about coronavirus. Contact us via phone or live chat in-app, or swipe for help in the app. We can help you check your symptoms, refer you to the most appropriate care, or simply provide you emotional support. 
  • All of our Support Centre staff are Mental Health First Aid trained, multilingual, and can provide you with all the necessary support to find the help that is right for you.
  • We can provide in-person support, when appropriate, through our network of former and off duty emergency services and other highly trained staff. Our Liaison Officers are provided with standard personal protective equipment (PPE), and are able to provide supplies if needed, including food and toiletries, or over the counter medications that have been recommended by your GP.

If you have any concerns, need guidance in finding a healthcare provider, or your mental wellbeing is being impacted this event,  contact Sonder by swiping for help in your Sonder app.