Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. These can range from the common cold to more serious diseases.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus. It was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan City in China.

For the most up to date information on Coronavirus in Victoria, visit

How is Coronavirus spread?

COVID-19 spreads through close contact with an infected person; mostly face-to-face or within a household. 

What is close contact?

Close contact means greater than 15 minutes face-to-face or the sharing of a closed space for more than two hours with a confirmed case.

A close contact could include any person meeting any of the following criteria:

  • living in the same household or household-like setting (for example, a boarding school or hostel)
  • direct contact with the body fluids or laboratory specimens of a confirmed case 
  • a person who spent two hours or longer in the same room 
  • face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes with the case in any other setting not listed above.


The most common coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms reported are:

  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties, breathlessness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue or tiredness.

Many people who contract coronavirus (COVID–19) will suffer only mild symptoms. Elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions may experience more severe symptoms.

If you suspect you may have coronavirus please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.

Respiratory Emergency Department

Our Emergency Department has been working hard to ensure the safety of both patients and staff in our hospital amid the outbreak of COVID-19. A dedicated Respiratory Emergency Department has been established to separate patients from general emergency presentations. When you come to our Emergency Department you will also first see a concierge nurse who will direct you where you need to be treated.

Respiratory Emergency Department

COVID-19 Screening Clinic

UPDATE, April 15:  COVID-19 esting criteria has been expanded to include all people with consistent clinical symptoms. 

Revised testing criteria include:

  • Fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation OR acute respiratory infection that is characterised by cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.

Note: In addition, testing is recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19* AND who are close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 or who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days.
*headache, myalgia, runny or stuffy nose, anosmia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea

UPDATE, March 25: As a directive from the Department of Health and Human Services, every fifth person that presents to Bendigo Health's Screening Clinic will be tested for COVID-19, even if they don't meet the current testing criteria. The aim is to get a broader understanding of the prevalence of COVID-19 in our community and across Victoria.

This requirement is in additional to existing testing, the criteria for which is listed below.

Bendigo Health’s COVID-19 Screening Clinic is located on Stewart Street (in the old hospital Emergency Department). The Clinic is open daily from 10am-5.30pm.

If you suspect you may have coronavirus please can the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398. COVID-19 testing resources are limited so to ensure we use resources available to those most in need, we will only test you if:

  • You have returned from overseas in the last 14 days AND are experiencing respiratory symptoms
  • You have had close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus infection
  • You work in healthcare and have fever and respiratory symptoms.

Additionally, people in the following categories will also be tested (as of March 26)

  • all health workers
  • all aged/residential care workers
  • geographically localised areas where there is elevated risk of community transmission as defined by the local public health unit
  • where no community transmission is occurring, high risk settings where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases, for example:
    • aged and residential care
    • rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
    • detention centres/correctional facilities
    • boarding schools
    • military bases (including Navy ships) that have live-in accommodation.

Protecting yourself and your family

  • Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Stay at home.
  • Phone your doctor or the hotline – 1800 675 398 – if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.
  • Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep.
  • Wearing a face mask is not necessary if you are well.
  • Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.
  • Click here to download a poster 
Protecting yourself and your family

Visitor restrictions

UPDATED, April 5: Access to the Basement carpark from the Drought Street entrance will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians from 8am on April 5. To enter the Basement carpark, use the entrance off Mercy Street.

UPDATED, March 27: In keeping with new visitor and patient protocols, all staff will have there temperature tested before they begin work at Bendigo Health.

UPDATED, March 25: As a directive from the Deputy Chief Health Officer of Victoria, Bendigo Health will check the temperature of all hospital visitors.

Visitors will be asked a number of questions relating to travel and Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the information given will assist us in tracking those individuals if they are unwell following their visit.

Any person with a temperature above 37.5 degrees will not be allowed inside the hospital.

These measures to provide the highest level of safety for our patients, staff and families.

UPDATED, March 24: To protect our patients, staff and the wider community amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken the difficult but necessary decision to restrict non-essential visitors to the hospital.

Visitors may only be allowed on compassionate grounds which will be at the discretion of the nurse manager of the relevant unit. 

The same restrictions are in place across our aged care facilities.

People attending outpatient services, including appointments, will only be allowed to be accompanied by a carer.

Bendigo Health is focussed on patients’ wellbeing and will be encouraging alternative means to communicate and stay in contact, this includes iPads and things such as Facetime.

We appreciate this will have a significant impact on members of the public but ask for your patience and understanding as we try to limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Access to the hospital is via the Mercy Street entrance.

Service Disruptions

All non-emergency dental services have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Emergency dental care is still available to the general public. Please call 5454 7994. 

All non-emergency srugery has been cancelled, as a directive from the Federal Government. Category 1 and some urgent Category 2 surgeries are still being done at Bendigo Health.

To reduce the number of people attending the hospital precinct, two thirds of our outpatient appointment have been replaced with telehealth. For more information visit:


Public Resources

The Department of Health and Human Services has an online map that provides daily updates on confirmed Coronavirus cases across Victoria.

To view the interactive map, click here and go to page 7. 



Self isolation tips

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