About COVID-19 or coronavirus

Key information, background and links about the disease.
Nick Woolridge / Biomedical Communications
Nick Woolridge / Biomedical Communications


Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses from the common cold to more serious diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) or MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 strain of coronavirus and was first reported in China in December 2019.

Most individuals who develop COVID-19 experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without medical treatment; however older people, and those with underlying medical conditions, are more likely to develop serious illness.

Our researchers are working to develop new ways to treat and prevent COVID-19, and learn more about the coronavirus to inform better global treatment strategies.

Read more
  • Infection and symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment & prevention

SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted from person to person through contaminated respiratory droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.

Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath.

Some individuals infected with the coronavirus will not display symptoms, which is why physical distancing measures and good hygiene practices are critical to minimising the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the development of COVID-19.

COVID-19 can be diagnosed by finding traces of the virus in respiratory samples such as swabs from the back of the nose and throat, or fluid from the lungs. Samples for testing can be taken directly by GPs, at a range of private pathology sites or at public hospitals.

Scientists at the Garvan Institute and around the world are working to develop better diagnostics and treatments. Please support this urgent research

In most cases of coronavirus infection, rest and existing treatments, including pain and fever medication, are effective at treating mild symptoms; however individuals with severe infection may require hospitalisation and breathing support.

Currently there are no specific vaccines or anti-viral therapies to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Medical treatment of COVID-19 consists of treating the effects of the disease, such as fever, respiratory infections or pneumonia.

Researchers at the Garvan Institute and around the world are working to develop better treatments for COVID-19. Please support this urgent research


All of us can take measures to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some of these measures include:

  • practise good hygiene
  • practise physical distancing
  • follow the limits for public gatherings
  • understand how to self-isolate, if you need to.

COVID-19 resources

Your local health department can provide you with the most relevant advice on COVID-19 symptoms, testing and social distancing. Please note that the Garvan Institute is not able to provide medical advice to individuals.

For the latest updates on the coronavirus, visit:

The National Coronavirus Helpline provides the latest information on COVID-19 and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phone: 1800 020 080