Following the best advice on COVID-19

Meet Dr Ines Rio, a GP, heath adviser, Chair of North Western Melbourne Private Health Network and the City of Melbourne’s Medical Health Officer.

What does your role at the City of Melbourne involve?
I assist Council with medical and public health advice across a number of service areas.

This includes immunisation, maternal and child health, family services, occupational health and safety, public health and wellbeing, emergency management and any acute issues that arise such as novel coronavirus (COVID-19) planning and staff education.

What is the City of Melbourne doing to respond to COVID-19?
The City of Melbourne has activated its pandemic plan alongside business continuity planning.

We’re liaising closely across City of Melbourne services and with the Victorian Government, with regular weekly meetings taking place since the start of February.

We’re regularly sharing communications from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to businesses and residents.

We’re also providing communication and education to keep staff well and ensure the organisation’s work continues.

This includes infection control, business continuity planning and staff illness protocols and advice.

Influenza vaccinations have also been arranged for our staff to provide added protection against the upcoming flu season.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The infection is largely like other respiratory infections, so common symptoms include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, sore throat and fatigue.

The situation is changing daily. However, at this time in Victoria, unless you are at risk (if you have been overseas or in contact with someone with known COVID-19), these symptoms are unlikely to be due to COVID-19.

If you are concerned, call your GP or the national Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for advice.

How can people protect themselves from COVID-19?
At this stage, the best way to protect yourself, your family and your colleagues is to pay attention to respiratory and personal good hygiene:

  1. Wash your hands well and regularly after visiting the toilet, before preparing and eating food, and after touching equipment. It is sometimes easier to
    use hand sanitiser.
  2. Cough and sneeze into your elbow or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and dispose of the tissue into a bin – always wash your hands afterwards.
  3. Try not to touch your face. This is because one way to become infected is to transfer virus from a contaminated surface to your hand to the face or mouth by touching.
  4. Stay home where you can and practice ‘social distancing’ with people not from your regular household. This means:
    • keep up-to-date and follow the latest government guidance on public gatherings, and attendance at work and study
    • only go out of your home for essential tasks
    • keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres between you and other people
    • minimise contact with people, especially those at higher risk such as older people and people with pre-existing health conditions
    • avoid non-required physical contact such as shaking hands
  1. It’s also best not to share towels or other personal items.
  2. Work from home where possible and certainly stay at home (and call your doctor) if you are unwell.
  3. Consider wiping down frequently touched surfaces such as desks, keyboards, phones and car steering wheels with antiseptic wipes.
  4. Remember to get your annual seasonal influenza vaccine when it is available.

Should we be wearing face masks?
There is no reason for healthy members of the general public to wear face masks at present.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Australian Government Department of Health do not currently recommend face masks and as there is a limited supply they need to be kept for at-risk settings. Stay up-to-date with the latest advice on this.

Where can I find more information?
The situation with COVID-19 is changing daily. For more information and to keep up-to-date on the latest on COVID-19, please refer to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website.

For information and updates about disruptions or changes to services provided within the municipality, visit the City of Melbourne’s COVID-19 webpage.