virus spreading across world map

There is a new or "novel" coronavirus (now referred to as Coronavirus Disease or COVID-19) originating from Wuhan, Hubei Province in China with at least 6,964 cases confirmed in Australia with 97 deaths so far. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the spread of Coronavirus disease a pandemic.

These are very uncertain times. The situation is changing rapidly and it is important to stay informed. You can check this blog and our Facebook page for the latest in links and resources for people with disability during this crisis. 

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus COVID-19 is a new viral infection which has caused a global pandemic. It can cause serious illness and death and is highly contagious. 

Read What is Coronavirus? to find out more. 

Government Restrictions

The Prime Minister has announced new measures, including the closing of businesses and strict new social distancing laws, to try to "flatten the curve" or slow the spread of Coronavirus disease so that State-led health services can remain able to meet demand. Currently, in countries like Italy, the health systems are beyond capacity and people are dying due to a lack of healthcare interventions being available. To avoid this happening, it is very important to follow the rules put in place by the Government to attempt to combat the steep acceleration of confirmed cases.

Read Government Restrictions for more details.

Stimulus Package

The Government has implemented a series of stimulus packages and increased welfare support for Australians who have suffered financial hardship as a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. 

Two payments of $750 for about 6.5 million Australians including people who receive the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Carer Payment and Carer Allowance as well as the Family Tax Benefit and many other welfare payments. If you receive any of these payments, you do not have to do anything. The money will be paid into your account automatically at the end of March. One payment will be made at the end of March and another at the end of July. 

Many people lost their jobs this week. If you are one of these people, it is important to stay safe and not resort to joining crowds of people queuing up to process welfare payment applications. Call or use the website. The website, call centre and offices have been overwhelmed with the unprecedented demand. It is important to stay calm and be patient.

If you are waiting on hold for an extended period, try to use speakerphone so you can go about other activities, make a cup of tea... read a book. We are in very uncertain and stressful times but it is important to look after yourself and just breathe. 

Coronavirus Supplement

From 27 April, Centrelink will be paying a Coronavirus supplement of $550 a fortnight to eligible welfare recipients including those on the Jobseeker Payment (previously Newstart Allowance), Sickness Allowance, Youth Allowance for job seekers, parenting, partner and farm household allowances. At this stage, this supplement is not payable to people on the Disability Support Pension. 

For more information, visit Services Australia (Centrelink) or call them. They have lots of numbers, so make sure you are calling the right number for you. 

Panic Buying and Stockpiling

There has been widespread panic and a shortage of supplies, especially toilet paper as the coronavirus crisis intensifies. Supermarkets are introducing drastic new measures which include limits on purchases per transaction and a dedicated early morning shopping hour for the elderly and people with disability during this period of prolonged and unprecedented demand. 

Supermarkets have announced that they will be extending these hours to some other groups and adding different times of the day. We know that people with disability, especially mobility-related disabilities, their families and carers are finding it difficult or in some cases impossible to access the supermarket at these times. Delivery services for priority customers including people with disability and older Australians are also being made available depending on your location. 


For more information on measures for older people and people with disability to get their shopping, read our blog on Grocery Shopping during the COVID crisis now. 


Stop the Spread 

Social Distancing

Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people. Stay 1.5 metres or two big steps away from other people. 

It means not shaking hands, not hugging or kissing or coming in to close physical contact with people when you are out and about. Staying more than a metre and a half away from other people is also recommended. It also means limiting or minimising how often you are out and about and keeping at least a metre and a half away from others. Schools, universities and businesses are all putting policies in place to help slow the spread of the COVID-19, including moving to work or study from home where possible and cancelling or postponing events where large numbers of For more information on how we can Stop the Spread is available from the Australian Department of Health.people are in close contact with one another. 

Self Isolation

The Government is asking Australians to stay at home as much as possible and avoid contact with other people. Where people have returned from overseas travel, have a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who has, these people must self isolate or quarantine. They must stay at home and isolate from other people in the home. 

We are all going to be spending a lot more time at home for the time being, here are some tips to get you through a Stay-cation or Isolation and things to do when you are stuck at home!

Hand Hygiene

Washing your hands regularly is the number one defence we have against COVID-19 Coronavirus. Wash your hands thoroughly and often for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap or hand wash. If these aren't available, use hand sanitiser. 

person washing his hands

Read more information on how we can Stop the Spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 and other viruses like the flu. 

Easy English guides

Find Easy English and Easy Read resources on Coronavirus COVID-19 for people with intellectual disabilities and children.

Telehealth

Find out about the Australian Government's temporary Telehealth policy, which helps your doctor to provide services to you remotely. This reduces the risk of infection by eliminating face to face consultations where necessary. 

Mental Health

Caring for your mental health is very important during this period of heightened anxiety, confusion and isolation. 

Read our blog on Looking after your mental health in the COVID-19 crisis for some tips, resources and key contacts for your self-care during the Coronavirus (CVOID-19) crisis. 

NDIS Response

What is the NDIS doing to help participants?

  • NDIS plans to be extended by up to 24 months, ensuring continuity of support and increasing capacity of NDIA staff to focus on urgent and required changes to plans.
  • Face-to-face planning shifted to telephone meetings where possible
  • Action plan to ensure NDIS participants and their families continue to receive the essential disability supports they need.
  • Proactive outreach to high-risk participants and sharing of data with states and territories to ensure continuity of supports.
  • Financial assistance to providers to support retention of workers including advance payments, 10 per cent COVID-19 loading on some supports and changes to cancellation policies. 

The NDIA is working with the Department of Social Services (DSS), Services Australia and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NQSC) as well as health agencies to deliver on our Pandemic Plan in line with the Government’s Emergency Response Plan.

If you are an NDIS participant, visit Coronavirus Information for NDIS participants

If you are a service provider, you can check our article on Coronavirus Supports for NDIS providers

For more information, visit the NDIS and disaster response page. Stuart Robert MP, Minister for the NDIS has made a statement ensuring NDIS participants that plans are in place to ensure continuity of supports throughout the pandemic. 

Contact

Your local GP or family doctor by phone
 
Coronavirus Health Information Line
Call this line if you are seeking information on coronavirus (COVID-19). The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
 Phone: 1800 020 080
 
healthdirect
Phone: 1800 022 222
Web: www.healthdirect.gov.au

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