Everybody is at risk of getting COVID-19. Most people will only develop mild illness and recover. Others can get very sick and may need to go to hospital.
Some people with disability could have more serious complications if they get sick with COVID-19, depending on the nature of their disability and other medical history.
Vulnerability to COVID-19
Some people with disability may be more vulnerable to COVID-19, especially if they:
have high support needs and cannot physically distance
have pre-existing health conditions such as a respiratory condition, a compromised immune system, heart disease or diabetes
face challenges in accessing healthcare information
have a disruption to their regular medication and services
are aged 70 years and over
are a First Nations person aged 50 years or over
are living in supported accommodation or group residential settings.
These factors can increase the risk of people with disability catching the virus and getting very sick. It's important to prepare yourself and your family in case you get COVID-19.
Preparing for COVID-19
Think about essential supports you need and consider the services you can't live without. Talk to your service providers and health professionals to develop a plan for your own personal health and safety.
Queensland Health has developed a traffic light system to provide information about COVID-19. The levels of the traffic light – red amber, or green – are based on the current level of risk in the community.
It is important that you test for COVID-19 if you have symptoms. You should use a RAT kit to test yourself for COVID-19 if you have COVID-19 symptoms. A support worker or carer can help you with the test at home. You can also go to a clinic or general practitioner's (GP) to have for a RAT. If you have an eligible Commonwealth concession card or are part of an eligible group, you can access free RAT kits from Queensland Health RAT distribution points.
You can also call your GP and ask them about testing options that suit your needs. If you do not have any viable options due to your disability-specific support needs, please contact 134 COVID (13 42 68) to discuss alternative arrangements.
Medicines for COVID-19 are now available for people at high risk of developing severe illness. These medicines can reduce the need for you to go to hospital. Treatment needs to start within five days of developing symptoms or testing positive to COVID‑19. Check to see if you are eligible and find out who to talk to about your options. You can also read:
If your support person feels unwell, they should get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible.
Your support person may not be able to work while they are waiting for their test results. This could take a few days. During this time, your support person should arrange for someone else to meet your support needs. You can also call your service provider to discuss what your options are.
The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) have made changes to how people with a NDIS plan can access support. Visit the NDIS website or call the NDIA on 1800 800 110.
If you don’t have a regular service provider, call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.
How to get help
How to get help.
Hi. I'm Dr. Dinesh Palipana.
COVID-19 continues to circulate in Queensland and it can be scary thinking about what could happen if you got the virus, especially if you're living by yourself or if your family or support workers get sick too.
That's why it's very important for you to have a COVID care plan and a COVID ready kit in case you get sick and need to isolate immediately.
If your support person feels unwell, they should get tested and call a doctor or helpline to ask what to do next.
Your support person will not be able to work while they're waiting for their test results. This could take a few days.
During this time your support person should arrange for someone else to look after you.
You can also call your service provider to discuss what your options are. If you don't have a regular service provider and need support call the Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349.
It's important to seek medical care if you are worried about your symptoms, especially if they're not improving and you are getting worse.
If you need more help during isolation, there are helplines you can call.
Option one, The National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. For help with your symptoms or looking after yourself at home. Press four, if you work in disability or aged care. Press five, if you are a person with disability or carer of a person with disability.
Option two, if you are not sure of your symptoms or the kind of care you need, you may check your symptoms using the online self-checker form. Once you complete the form, you'll be given the self-care information you need.
Option three, if you want to speak to a nurse, call 13 HEALTH on 13 43 25 84 and press three for health advice about COVID-19.
Option four, for help registering a positive RAT, booking a vaccine, testing or information about COVID-19 restrictions. Call 134 COVID on 13 42 68. If you have a hearing, visual and/or speech need, call the Teletypewriter or TTY on 133 677 in an emergency call 106 using a teletypewriter or text phone use only.
Option five, call triple zero or go to an emergency department if you have severe symptoms. When you call the hospital, tell the hospital staff that you have COVID-19.
Option six, for latest advice on COVID-19 services and support, you can also call the Queensland Disability Network on 07 32 52 85 66 or visit the QDN website.
The Disability Information Helpline on 1800 643 787.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme, or NDIS on 1800 800 110 or visit the NDIS website.
The National Disability Insurance Agency or the NDIA have made changes to how people with NDIS plan can access support.
Your mental wellbeing
There may be times when you feel worried, scared or upset about COVID-19. This is normal. You may also feel isolated if you are spending less time with family, friends or your support network. Now, more than ever, it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing.
COVID-19 update from Dr Lynne McKinlay, Deputy Chief Health Officer
In this video, Dr Lynne McKinlay, Deputy Chief Health Officer, Queensland, talks about protecting yourself against COVID-19, getting vaccinated, treatment options for COVID-19, and how employers can manage risks of COVID-19 to clients and employees. This video has English captions and a transcript.
I want to talk about what you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19.
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that the pandemic has had a profound impact on people
living with disability and all Queenslanders over the past two and a half years.
What we have experienced since 2020 is unlike anything Queenslanders have been through in recent history.
I can understand that some people may be worried about feeling safe in the community
following the latest changes to vaccination and isolation requirements.
Into the third year of this pandemic, we are all much more experienced in understanding and managing the risks of COVID-19 to ourselves and those we care about.
As we learn to live with COVID-19 and its risks, we all need to consider how to act
to protect ourselves, those we work with, our loved ones and others in our community.
There are some simple things we all can do and should continue to do:
Mask wearing, hand hygiene and physical distancing are effective ways to reduce transmission, and ones that we are all now very familiar with.
For example, many people choose to wear a mask when entering a crowded place for the added protection.
We also strongly encourage everyone to stay home if they are unwell and to test for COVID-19.
Vaccination against COVID remains the best protection against severe illness. The scientific evidence is clear that vaccination reduces the risk of severe disease, including hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation recently estimated that vaccination in 2021 prevented nearly 20 million deaths across the world.
The booster doses, that's the third and fourth doses, have been shown to provide additional protection for people at increased risk.
I understand that some people have been reluctant to get vaccinated because of health concerns or other reasons.
Please talk with your general practitioner, your pharmacist, or another trusted health professional if you are still considering vaccination or thinking about getting the booster.
Finally, there is a range of treatment options available if you test positive for COVID-19, and I encourage you to speak with your general practitioner about these.
Speak to your doctor now and be prepared.
Service providers are responsible for managing the risk of COVID-19 to their employees and clients. This is a standard workplace health and safety obligation for businesses.
Employers can implement any reasonable measure to ensure the health and safety of their staff and clients and to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on their business and workforce. This might include additional protection and infection control measures through local guidelines or policies.
We are encouraging service providers to respect any reasonable request from a client to take additional infection control measures, such as wearing a mask.
If you are a client of a disability support service, please talk to your service provider about their local policies and what they can do to respond to your needs and preferences and address risks you may be concerned about.
For example, it is reasonable for you to ask your disability support worker to wear a mask while they are working with you.
Queensland Health will continue to spread the message that we all have a responsibility to care for and support each other as we learn to live with COVID-19.
How to complete a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)
How to get tested using a Rapid Antigen Test.
Hi, I'm Dr Dinesh Palipana.
I'd like to talk to you about the RAT test and show you how to use it.
The Rapid Antigen Test can tell you if you have COVID-19.
They are called RAT for short.
A RAT should be done within the first seven days when symptoms first appear.
Most tests produce results within 10 to 20 minutes.
You can buy a RAT kit online, from a pharmacist, supermarkets and select retail stores.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration or TGA has a list of all the approved kits that you can use at home.
You may be eligible to get a free RAT kit if you have a concession card or are NDIS participants.
To find out more, visit the NDIS website.
Going to the hospital during COVID-19
Hi – I’m Alex and I want to help you understand what it means if you need to go to the hospital during COVID-19.
You might have heard people talk about coronavirus. In these videos, COVID-19 means the same thing.
If you need to go to hospital, you might see that things are a bit different because of COVID-19.
When you arrive at a hospital you may be asked some questions and have your temperature checked.
You may be asked to wear a mask and use some hand sanitiser to clean your hands.
If you can’t wear a mask, you may be able to wear a face shield.
You may see that some of the doctors and nurses are wearing gowns, masks, face shields and gloves. These changes are to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
When you come to hospital it is helpful to bring information about yourself. You could bring a disability health passport such as ‘Julian’s Key’ or a list of your medications, health conditions or other important information.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can ask to have information written down for you or you can get a ‘Hospital Kit’ from Better Hearing Australia.
You can have a family member, carer or support person with you when you go to hospital.
Call the hospital before you go and let them know who is coming with you.
The rules about who can visit you in hospital change often during COVID-19. Make sure you check on the hospital website or phone the hospital and ask someone for the latest rules.
Doctors and nurses will ask you questions when you come to hospital – about how you are feeling, how you like to communicate, if you are an NDIS participant and what supports you usually have.
They will also ask you questions about where you have been recently to check if you have been in the same place where someone who is positive for COVID-19 has also been at the same time.
Nurses and doctors might need to do tests like taking your temperature or checking your blood pressure. If you have any questions or are feeling confused, you can ask the doctor or nurse to explain what they are doing and why.
When you are in hospital, a doctor might give you medicine or other treatments that you have not had before. If you do not understand what the treatments are for or you have any questions, ask your nurse or doctor. They are happy to explain things to you.
Your doctor or nurse will talk to you about going home. They will tell you about any steps you need to follow when you get home.
Remember - you can ask as many questions as you like.
You can also ask to have information written down so you can look at it later or give it to your family member or support worker.
You also have the right to tell the hospital if you have any suggestions, compliments or complaints about the care you received. You can ask hospital staff the best way to do this.