COVID-19 Update

We will update this page daily as new information is available about coronavirus or COVID-19. This page covers things like testing, symptoms and what Wuchopperen is doing to reduce the risk in our clinics. If you have any other questions that aren't covered here, please give us a call or send us a message on our Facebook page. Please note, we are changing some of our services and transport options due to social distancing, you can read more details here. From Monday, 30th March the following programs will be paused until further notice:

  • Playgroup and Parenting Programs at our Children and Family Centre
  • Men's and Women's Exercise Groups, one on one sessions with Myles are still available 
  • Our low car pick up option, please call us to arrange alternative transport if required
  • Outreach and Home Visiting 

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 a respiratory illness caused by a . Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat and shortness of breath. The virus can spread from person to person by inhaling droplets from coughing, or from transfer from touching hands/surfaces and then touching your face or mouth. This is why washing hands, coughing into tissues/shirt/elbow and not hands, and where possible staying 1.5m away from others, can prevent infection.

Symptoms of coronavirus can vary, but generally include a fever, cough, fatigue/tiredness, a sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty smelling.

Currently, people at risk of coronavirus are those who have been overseas in the last 14 days, or anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days. This is the current Australian definition of “at risk” and may change when person to person transmission is confirmed in different areas of Australia.

The risk of catching coronavirus is the same for everyone. It depends on how careful you are in washing hands regularly, coughing into tissues/elbows/shirt and not hands, and maintaining distance between people where possible. This is the same for all people around the world.

We know our people have higher rates of chronic health conditions. People with conditions like diabetes, heart and lung disease, cancer and the elderly (world figures suggest anyone over 60) need to be particularly careful. If people in this group are infected, there is more chance of serious health complications.

This means practicing good hand and cough hygiene as above, and social distancing - carefully consider need to attend public events and public spaces.

You can reduce your risk of coronavirus by practicing good hygiene and reconsidering your need to travel and attend public gatherings, also practicing social distancing. Currently, the Australian Government has banned mass gatherings over 100 people indoors and 500 people if outdoors. 

It is also really important not to share cigarettes at this time, as the virus spreads through close contact. 


Good hygiene includes:

  • covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue or shirt
  • disposing of tissues properly and washing hands after contact
  • washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
  • cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
  • if you are sick, avoiding contact with others, not sharing cigarettes and staying more than 1.5 metres away from people
  • cleaning and sanitising frequently used objects such as mobiles, keys and wallets


       Social distancing includes:

  • staying at home when you are unwell
  • avoiding large public gatherings if they’re not essential and under 100 people
  • keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and other people whenever possible
  • minimising physical contact, especially with people at higher risk such as older people and people with existing health conditions


If you have symptoms of coronavirus and have travelled overseas in the last 14 days, or have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days, you should call us to discuss your health before coming into the clinic. You can also call the dedicated coronavirus hotline on 1800 020 080, or 13HEALTH.

Please note that currently we can only offer testing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Organisation clients.

We need to keep to the current triage criteria for testing (in other words people who are at the highest risk) so that we do not run out of testing equipment. All others are being directed  to 13HEALTH, and the COVID19 hotline 1800 020 080.

If you are an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service client and meet the current national criteria for testing,  please call us at Wuchopperen to let us know when you are coming so we can offer you testing without coming in to the usual clinics.

The current testing criteria is:

  1. Any fever, sore throat, difficulty smelling , cough, shortness of breath?
  2. Any Overseas or interstate travel in last 14 days?
  3. Any contact with a known case of COVID19 last 14 days?

Wuchopperen is offering testing  

1. at the open air onsite Respiratory Clinic at our Manoora clinic

2. at the QML testing laboratory on the corner of Florence and Grafton Street. Note that you will need a pathology form from your doctor for QML if this is your preferred option.

The test for coronavirus is a simple throat and nose swab and is very quick. It is done by a doctor or QML tester who will be wearing protective gear to ensure they stay well enough to continue testing and caring for people.

We have opened appointments to now be booked for Telehealth Consultations. This means you can book an appointment and the doctor will call you on your phone at the agree time. We can't do all appointments over the phone, but if you call our team and request Telehealth we will be able to let you know if your appointment can be done on the phone. 


For this to work, please make sure we have your contact details up to date. 

Read more about our Telehealth offering here

We need to ensure we have enough resources to test those most at risk and likely to contract the virus first.

At the moment, we are only testing those with symptoms and who have either travelled overseas in the last 14 days, or have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days. This advice will change over time and we will update everyone as more information becomes available.

You should self-isolate in your home until your test results are available. The facility you were tested at will call you with your results as soon as they are available and will advise you on the next steps. You can read more about what self isolation is here.

When your test results are available the testing facility will call you with your results and instructions on what you need to do if you have tested positive. This could include self-isolation at home, or, isolation at the hospital, depending on your other health conditions and how well you are.

We are taking the threat of coronavirus very seriously. We have a pandemic plan, which is multi-staged and reassessed daily based on advice from Queensland Health and the Federal Government, along with rates of coronavirus in Cairns.

We have:

  • Set-up a separate outdoor Respiratory Clinic onsite for people with symptoms of coronavirus to be tested
  • Set up staff at the front of all buildings to attend to clients before they enter buildings and temperature test everyone to ensure those with symptoms and risk factors are seen at the Respiratory Clinic rather than in the other clinics
  • More hand washing facilities available in our clinics, including hand sanitiser at the door to all of our buildings, in waiting areas and on our transport vehicles, with disinfection processes happening ever hour
  • Our staff are currently completing compulsory annual hand washing training
  • Reduced the number of clients we have on the bus at one time to ensure social distancing. We are also offering alternative transport to those who may have coronavirus to ensure we reduce the risk to other clients

As our response changes to coronavirus and the confirmed cases in Cairns we will update this page, along with our Facebook page.

Some of our programs have been stopped for the moment, this includes our gym, our low-car pick up options for transport and our activities at our Children and Family Centre including Playgroup and our Parenting Programs. If you clients need to speak with our Children and Family Centre team, you can still contact us on the phone. You can call our team to add yourself to our waitlist for joining our Parenting Programs when we are able to host them again. 

As government policy and advice changes, we will be reviewing our services like Outreach and Home Visiting. This could mean some of our services may temporarily move to online or over the phone consultation. As this changes, we will update all clients via our website and our social media channels.


You can call your pharmacist and ask them for scripts. The pharmacy will contact your doctor and organise for the scripts to be sent to the pharmacy. Please note that if your medications have changed because of a recent hospital visit, or you have not been to Wuchopperen within the last 4 months, you will be asked to return for a brief visit to ensure we can safely prescribe your medicine. Your visit with the doctor at Wuchopperen will be done in our normal clinics, which are away from our testing area. 

Certain scripts (for example drugs of dependence) cannot be renewed in this way.

If you have coronavirus infection, you will be given a mask.

If you are at high risk (unwell with risk factors as above) you will be offered a mask.

As long as there is no documented local transmission of the virus in Cairns the requirements for masks beyond this are unclear. People may choose to wear a mask if they have one if they are unwell. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, there is a current shortage of face masks, so we need to limit the number we give out. If you have specific questions on this, you can ask our team in person, through Facebook or over the phone.

Currently, there is only a small number of confirmed case in Cairns. Queensland Health are providing daily updates on the number of cases and the locations in Queensland, which we are monitoring closely. This is no cause to panic, as we still have no local transmission.

When more cases are confirmed in Cairns, our services may change. We will keep you informed on this page on our website, along with our Facebook page, or over the phone.

It appears on current evidence that those who have had the virus once will develop immunity. There is only one confirmed case worldwide of reinfection occurring.

There are two kinds of self isolation:

Quarantine – person is well but fits the criteria for testing and is waiting on the result of a test and has been asked by a doctor to isolate for 14 days after contact or after air travel.

If the person is well and not coughing, the risk is very small. This is the time to remind household members of the importance of washing hands frequently, wiping down surfaces, coughing into a tissue/shirt/elbow, and where possible staying 1.5m apart. Monitor the person to see if they develop symptoms (fever above 37.5 degrees, cough, shortness of breath). If they do, call the clinic for advice.

Ask for advice from schools or workplaces regarding isolation of family members in this case.

Avoid household attendance at big gatherings as much as possible.


Medical isolation – a person is coughing and high risk, and is either waiting on a result or has returned a positive result for coronavirus.

If the person is sick, they need to stay in one room and bathroom if possible. The household needs to be washing hands frequently, wiping down bathroom and eating surfaces, asking everyone including the sick person to cough into a tissue/shirt/elbow, and where possible staying 1.5m apart. This includes not sharing smokes or other items that the person is putting in their mouth. 

Avoid household attendance at big gatherings as much as possible

Follow individual workplace and school advice, which will usually be to stay home.

If people have coronavirus, any worsening often occurs around day 5. If they become more unwell with shortness of breath, call the clinic for advice.

Our team are still available to you via phone, including our Family Wellbeing team, our Social and Emotional Wellbeing team and our Children and Family Centre. You can also look online for materials, we are posting regularly about activities to do at home with kids and how to stay in a good headspace during the outbreak.

A great resource we have found is from the World Health Organisation on how to stay calm during the outbreak


The best way to help is to take care of yourself - practice good hand hygiene and avoid crowds. You can also check in on Elders in our community by phone where possible. If you visit, consider keeping everyone safe by avoiding or minimising contact and staying 1.5m apart or in the open air. Call your family and friends, if you are well, you could offer to pick up groceries for people and leave them at their door. During isolation, it is also important to check in on people, FaceTime people who live alone or are at risk and ensure they have adequate supplies of important medications, food and cleaning products.

We will be updating this page with new information as it comes out. 

But you can also find information from Queensland Department of Health, they provide daily updates on what is happening in Queensland and the Cairns region.