COVID-19 information for Aboriginal people

What is COVID-19? 

Watch the video in Pitjantjatjara language.

Coronavirus disease, or COVID-19, is an illness that affects the lungs and is caused by a new virus. The virus can spread from person to person very easily.

It can spread when a person coughs or sneezes the virus into the air. People may breathe in the virus, or touch the virus on surfaces.

Everybody is at risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19). For most people, they will only develop mild illness, but others may develop severe sickness that affects the lungs, heart and brain.

People who have weaker immune systems or chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease) and Aboriginal Elders are at greater risk of getting very sick or dying from COVID-19.

In 2021, a new strain of COVID-19 became the dominant strain around the world. The Delta strain is also increasingly affecting children and young people.

Delta spreads faster and much more easily than other strains of the virus. It is also more than twice as contagious as previous variants.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19

Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms and recover.
But some people like Elders, or people with medical conditions can get very sick and may need to go to the hospital.

COVID-19 can cause symptoms like:

  • fever (a temperature of 37.5˚C or higher) or chills
  • cough
  • loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • runny or blocked nose
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • headache
  • muscle or joint pain
  • loss of appetite.

For some people, sickness can be more severe and can lead to pneumonia or breathing difficulties and can even cause death.

Call 000 if you need urgent medical help (such as chest pain or difficulty breathing).

What should I do if I'm feeling unwell? Get a COVID-19 test.

Watch the video in Pitjantjatjara language.

If you are feeling very sick, such as chest pain or can’t breathe easily call 000 (Triple Zero).

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are mild, get a test as soon as symptoms appear. Anyone can get tested and it’s nothing to feel ashamed of.

It’s fast, safe and clean. The COVID-19 test is free for everyone and you don’t need Medicare.

After your test, go straight home and wait for your results, avoiding other people and places.

Visit the Testing for COVID-19 page for information on:

  • who can get tested
  • how and where to get tested
  • what to do after your test
  • what to do if you have a positive or negative test result
  • what to do if you are feeling worried but well.

Visit the COVID-19 Clinics and Testing Centres page to find your closest dedicated testing clinic across metropolitan and regional South Australia.

If you are worried, keep a 2 steps (1.5 metres) away from sick people when out and about in public spaces.

This also means not going to gatherings or special events, working from home where possible and not:

  • shaking hands
  • hugging
  • kissing
  • touching others
  • sharing food
  • sharing smokes
  • sharing drinks.

Call the SA COVID Information Line on 1800 253 787 if you want more information on COVID-19.

What is isolation or quarantine?

Watch the video in Pitjantjatjara

Isolation or quarantine means staying in one place, such as your house or suitable place where you can be away from other people.

You will need to isolate or quarantine from others if you:

  • have had a COVID-19 test and are awaiting results
  • are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case
  • have tested positive for COVID-19
  • have arrived from interstate or overseas
  • have been directed by SA Health or SAPOL.

You can only leave isolation for urgent medical care or to get a COVID-19 test. If you must leave for these reasons, wear a surgical face mask and tell staff you are in quarantine.

You cannot go to public places like shops, work, schools, catch public transport, go to gatherings or have visitors at your home.

You can shop online for food and essential items, or have family or community deliver things to your door.

If you become sicker, call your doctor or clinic for advice. Tell them you are in isolation.  

For more information, visit the Isolation and quarantine advice for COVID-19 webpage or print out the resources.

How can I protect my community and Elders?

Aboriginal people are at risk of getting really sick from COVID-19. Even if you are feeling well it is important to take steps to stop the spread and prevent the virus from spreading.


You can protect yourself and others with these COVID Safe behaviours:

Why is COVID-19 dangerous for Aboriginal Communities?

Aboriginal people are particularly vulnerable when it comes to COVID-19 because:

  • Living arrangements and social connectedness (particularly where many people are living or gathering in one household), makes transmission more likely.
  • Aboriginal people have higher levels of pre-existing health conditions (particularly diabetes and respiratory conditions). People with these health conditions, especially those aged over 50, are at risk of more severe COVID-19 outcomes.
  • Increased remoteness makes access to health care more challenging.
  • COVID-19 can spread quickly—it will only take one person coming into the community with the sickness to put the whole community at risk.

Funerals and Sorry Business during COVID-19

Normally we have gatherings when someone has passed away but, during the coronavirus pandemic, larger groups of people mean greater risk of spreading the virus, especially for the more vulnerable such as Elders and people who already have health problems.

Restrictions are in place for the number of people allowed to gather for funerals and sorry business. These restrictions will change over time. For current information, visit Activities and Gatherings on the COVID-19 website.

Travel restrictions may also be in place across Australia so people may not be able to travel to attend gatherings.

Read the sorry business and funerals fact sheet (PDF 251KB) for more information.

Visit the Government of South Australia COVID-19 website to understand the current restrictions in South Australia.

Can I leave my house during an outbreak?

Visit the Government of South Australia website for the most up to date information about:

Child care arrangements during an Aboriginal community outbreak

In response to concern around family members in Aboriginal communities being separated in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak, this FAQ fact sheet (PDF 154KB) provides clarification around care arrangements for children during a COVID-19 outbreak.