COVID-19 (Coronavirus) FAQs
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
On 1 February 2020, the Australian Government issued strict new travel and quarantine restrictions concerning the coronavirus [2019-nCoV] which originated from Wuhan within the Hubei Provence of China. This advice was extended to include those who have travelled to or transited through:
- mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) on or after 1 February 2020
- Iran on or after 1 March 2020
- South Korea on or after 5 March 2020
- Italy on or after 11 March 2020
On 15 March 2020, the Australian Government announced that all travellers arriving in Australia from midnight AEDT 15 March 2020 will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions
No. Only employees who have travelled through specified locations or who may have come into contact with the virus are required to self-isolate. Employees are expected to continue to attend work unless they are on a form of approved leave (e.g. sick, annual, pandemic special leave or other).
There is still much that is unknown about this virus. However, the prevention steps recommended during cold and flu season are helpful in reducing the risk for infections:
- Wash your hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve touched someone who is sick. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid close contact with people who are experiencing symptoms.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- If you have cold and cough symptoms, make sure to cover your coughs and sneezes by using the bend of your arm (elbow) or use disposable tissues and immediately throw them in the trash.
- Stay home if you are ill and contact your healthcare provider.
Most cases are mild with respiratory complaints such as:
- Fever or
- Cough or
- Trouble breathing or
- Muscle aches or
- Fatigue or malaise
More severe cases of the infection can lead to pneumonia and there have been some deaths. Those with chronic medical conditions appear to be at high risk for serious complications.
The following symptoms DECREASE the likelihood you have a COVID-19 infection and are therefore reassuring:
- Ear pain
- Sinus pain
- Nasal congestion
We encourage people to continue to do their job professionally but also be aware of the situation around them. Where practical, consider social distancing measures. Social distancing is an effective measure, but we recognise that it cannot be practiced in all situations and the aim is to generally reduce the potential for COVID-19 transmission. When dealing with a member of the public we encourage you to:
- Maintain a safe distance between you and the person you are talking too (think operational safety distances here)
- Ask the person about their recent medical history, just remember that people aren’t legally obliged to tell you their medical history.
- If you need to go ‘hands-on’, then when practical, please decontaminate yourself using soap and water (minimum of 20 seconds of washing), hexifoam (or similar product) or hand sanitizer. Decontaminate yourself like you have someone else’s blood on you.
- If you go ‘hands-on’ with a person who is displaying symptons of COVID-19, notify your Team Leader and discuss the possibility of submitting a workplace incident report. Report the matter as we believe that if you contract COVID-19 in the course of your duties then the incident should be referred to Comcare.
- Use common sense and your operational awareness. Where you can speak to people outside, do so.
- When speaking to people that are ill, consider wearing your PPE equipment. Remember that PPE masks are only effective for 4 hours.
- Where possible, try to speak to people outside while maintaining social distancing and operational safety principles.
We would encourage you to speak to your Sergeant or Team Leader to determine if there is another option to clear the matter such as proceeding via summons.
If you do have to make the arrest, again, we encourage you to contact your Sergeant or Team Leader and provide them with a briefing, including any relevant health issues that you observe or able to obtain from the person in custody. Your Sergeant or Team Leader may wish to speak to the Watch House staff before conveying the person to the Watch House.
If the person is displaying signs of illness, we would strongly encourage you to convey the person to the Watch House in a caged vehicle, and not in the back of a patrol car, regardless of how compliant they are.
If you have had to go ‘hands-on’, then when practical, please decontaminate yourself using soap and water, hexifoam (or similar product) or hand sanitizer. Decontaminate yourself like you have someone else’s blood on you. Also, discuss the matter with your Sergeant and Team Leader and discuss the possibility of submitting a workplace incident report. Report the matter as we believe that if you contract COVID-19 in the course of your duties then the incident should be referred to Comcare.
Ask them if they require an ambulance. If you do, notify ACT Policing Operations or AOCC and request an ambulance to your location. If possible, provide any relevant health issues and observations as part of your briefing. Ensure to keep the person is calm, inform them that an ambulance will be attending and maintain social distancing and operational safety principles.
If the person doesn’t require an ambulance and doesn’t appear in distress or immediate health danger, encourage them to contact the Public Health Information Line (1800 044 599) or the Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080) or the GP. Strongly encourage them to return home and commence self-isolation.
During this interaction, remember to maintain social distancing and operational safety principles.
You should notify your Sergeant, Team Leader or Officer-in-Charge as soon as you identify the person is/has displaying symptoms of COVID-19.
Maintain social distancing and operational safety principles while trying to determine the persons’ recent medical history. Please encourage them not to touch any countertops, material or furniture in the front office. If there are other people in the area, politely ask them to maintain social distancing principles away from the person displaying symptoms.
If the person is signing in for bail then please consider the pen and handling the folder/paper they are using to sign in. Recent studies have found that COVID-19 survives for longer on cardboard – up to 24 hours – and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces. Don’t give them your pen and then place that pen back in your pocket. Encourage them to use the hand sanitizer which should be located in the front office before touching any countertops or material.
If you need to bring a ‘person in custody’ back to the police station of office and they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, please discuss this immediately with your Sergeant before allowing the person into the station or office.
If you experience fever, cough, difficulty breathing, malaise, fatigue or muscle aches, stay at home and contact a health provider or the Public Health Information Line (1800 044 599) or the Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080) for guidance. Do not go directly to a healthcare facility prior to calling your GP or a hospital emergency room for instructions.
Also, please notify your Sergeant or Team Leader as they will be required to notify Operation Protect staff who are collecting information on unwell members.
Any employee showing ANY coronavirus symptoms will be required to take 14 days away from the workplace. Members will not be allowed to return to work until the 14 days have expired, regardless of whether symptoms clear up beforehand. Members will utilise the special COVID leave in these circumstances and not personal leave.
The most recent updates on COVID-2019 are issued by the World Health Organisation and can be found at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.
Advice from the Australian Government can be found via the Department of Health at https://www.health.gov.au/
For information relating specifically to New South Wales, information can be found at https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx
For information relating specifically to the ACT, information can be found at https://www.health.act.gov.au/
For information relating specifically to Queensland, information can be found at https://www.health.qld.gov.au/
For information relating specifically to Victoria, information can be found at https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/
For information relating specifically to South Australia, information can be found at https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/Public+Content/SA+Health+Internet/
For information relating specifically to Tasmania, information can be found at https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/
For information relating specifically to Western Australia, information can be found at https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/
For information relating specifically to the Northern Territory, information can be found at https://health.nt.gov.au/
You can call the Public Health Information Line on 1800 044 599
You can call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
Not at this time. Hannover Life Re (who we insure you with) policies do not have a pandemic exclusion. All claims for COVID-19 will be assessed in line with the terms and conditions of the policy. This will also apply to applications for voluntary cover and continuation options.
We have been informed that members may retain the Determination 1 status for three months and still work towards the mission from their current Australia-based location. The AFP is currently looking at the tax implications of the decision.
Hannover Life Re has not yet made significant changes to their underwriting practices, they are closely monitoring the incidence, symptomatology and case fatality rate associated with COVID-19.
Hannover Life Re has informed us it is prudent at this time to implement additional precautionary measures when underwriting applicants believed to be of higher risk. This may include applicants with any of the following disclosures:
- Recent flu-like symptoms
- Having travelled to a high-risk country or region
- Having been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
Of particular concern are applicants >50 years old or who are suffering from chronic respiratory, cardiovascular or immunological disorders. For any such applicant, Hannover Life Re may consider postponing their underwriting for at least 3 weeks before being reviewed.
Due to the rapidly changing global status of COVID-19, Hannover Life Re’s underwriting practices will remain dynamic in this area.
Hannover Life Re will continue to work consultatively with their Chief Medical Officer and their global expert network in accordance with the information provided by the World Health Organisation, John Hopkins University, and other relevant authorities.
The appropriate leave to apply for in such a circumstance would be recreational leave or long service leave, where applicable. Questions regarding leave should be directed to PeopleCentre@afp.org.gov.au on +61 2 5127 1120.
The appropriate leave to apply for is Carer’s Leave. If you do not have sufficient leave, then you may apply for Miscellaneous Leave with Pay. Questions regarding leave should be directed to PeopleCentre@afp.org.gov.au on +61 2 5127 1120.