COVID-19 information for First Nations people

Everybody is at risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). For most people, they will only develop mild illness and recovery easily, but others may develop severe sickness that affects the lungs.

People with weaker immune systems are more likely to get seriously ill. This puts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders and people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) at risk.

Queensland Health is working closely with key stakeholders across the state to ensure that First Nations Queenslanders have access to current, culturally appropriate and localised information.

This page contains information to help you protect yourself, your family and community.

You can also visit Make the Choice for more information.

Why COVID-19 is dangerous for First Nations people

First Nations people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19 because:

  • Living arrangements and social connectedness (particularly where many people are living or gathering in one household), makes transmission more likely.
  • First Nations people have higher levels of pre-existing health conditions (particularly diabetes and respiratory conditions). People with these health conditions, especially those aged over 50, are at risk of more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
  • Increased remoteness makes access to health care more challenging.
  • COVID-19 can spread quickly—it will only take one person coming into the community with the sickness to put the whole community at risk.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

The signs of COVID-19 are a fever (a temperature higher than 37.5 degrees) and a cough. People may also have a sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of taste and loss of smell.

Find out more about the symptoms of COVID-19 and how they compare with common cold and flu.

What should I do if I get sick?

  • Call Queensland Health on 134 COVID (134 268) for advice on care and testing if you think you or a family member may have COVID-19 and your symptoms are mild. You can ask to speak with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander registered nurse when you call.
  • Call emergency services on 000 if anyone is very unwell.
  • Call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 if you want more information on COVID-19. This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you think you have COVID-19, always call your doctor or hospital before you visit.

How to protect your community and Elders

You can protect yourself and others by:

  • staying 2 big steps away from other people
  • still taking any medicines you use — this way you’ll stay as healthy as possible
  • not sharing cups or water bottles
  • not smoking or sharing smokes with other people
  • getting a COVID-19 vaccine
  • getting a flu shot to protect yourself and your family from the flu too.

Read more about how to protect yourself and others.

Protecting yourself from COVID-19

First Nations people are at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Even if you are feeling well it is important to take steps to prevent the virus from spreading.

Good hygiene and social distancing (also called physical distancing), are the best defences against COVID-19.

It is important that you talk to your doctor or pharmacy about getting both the COVID-19 jab and flu jab as soon as they are available.

Find out more about how you can protect yourself and others.

Practical tips for social (physical) distancing

It can be difficult to practice social (physical) distancing if you:

  • share a small residence with other people
  • live in over-crowded homes or communities
  • share a house with a large or extended family
  • live between several residences.

These practical tips can help protect those who are most vulnerable in your mob or community.

Leaving your house

From midday 10 July  2020, people who live in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can travel anywhere in Queensland for any reason. There is no limit on distance. You can stay overnight anywhere in Queensland for as many nights as you like.

See Restrictions in Queensland for more information.

Having visitors at home

From midday 10 July 2020, people who live in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities will be able to gather in groups of up to 100 people in homes and public spaces.

Even if they seem healthy and well, visitors could put your health at risk. Where contact with people is essential you must follow the guidelines on social distancing (also called physical distancing).

Keeping in touch with your community

Staying connected with family, friends and your community is important. Some ways you can do this are:

  • calling people for a yarn on the phone
  • talking about the community and checking if they are OK
  • talking about the virus and how to stop the spread
  • connecting to family and friends on social media.

Keeping your spirit strong

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every area of our lives - our health, job security, family life, and ability to engage in cultural practices. It is normal to feel things like anxiety, distress, and fear. Some people may feel grief and loss for how things used to be, particularly as we are unsure when things will go back to ‘normal’.

While COVID-19 has changed ways of being and doing, it has not changed ways of knowing. It is important that through this time, we keep our cultural knowledge strong and we draw strength from it. While physically distancing, it is more important than ever that we remain socially, emotionally and culturally connected.

Strong Spirit, Safe Mob is a collection of tips and resources we have developed to help you keep your spirit strong so you can keep yourself, your family and your community safe. It draws on the strength and resilience Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people already hold through connection to culture, family and community.

Sorry Business and Sad News during COVID-19

Culture and ceremony, such as large gatherings for Sorry Business, are very important to our communities.

Gatherings for funerals may have restrictions on how many people can attend. See Going out, travel, recreation and gathering in Queensland to understand the current restrictions and what is required by the Chief Health Officer of Queensland to consider an exemption to the current restrictions.

How to get help

Medical support

  • 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) — 24 hour assessment, referral and advice.
  • National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080) — 24/7 information.
  • Find a professional (Opens in new window) – based on your health needs and location.

Mental health and wellbeing support

Practical support