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Groups at higher risk of developing COVID-19

5-minute read

IMPORTANT: If you have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history and any close contact with a person with confirmed or probable COVID-19.


Some people are more at risk than others of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19. Find out more here about vulnerable groups so you can help to protect them.

Who is at risk?

In Australia, the people most at risk of getting the virus are:

  • travellers who have recently been overseas or cruise ship passengers
  • those who have been in close contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID -19 (including in the 48 hours before their symptoms appeared)
  • people in aged care facilities
  • people in detention facilities
  • people in group residential settings

Which groups are especially at risk?

People at most risk of serious infection from COVID-19 include:

People 70 years of age and older, those 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions, people with weakened immune systems and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with a chronic medical condition are strongly advised — for their own protection — not to leave the home unless absolutely necessary. Wherever possible, you should ask family, friends, neighbours or community members to shop for groceries or collect medicines for you.

If I’m pregnant, is there a risk to the baby?

Pregnant women do not appear to be more at risk of developing serious symptoms due to COVID-19 infection than the rest of the general population. A large majority of pregnant women will most likely experience mild to moderate cold and flu-like symptoms.

But pregnant women are at serious risk from other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. All pregnant women should practise physical distancing, good hand and cough or sneeze hygiene, and get their free flu vaccination.

So far, there has been no evidence to suggest a pregnant woman with COVID-19 passes the infection on to their unborn baby. But at this stage, not enough is known about the virus, so pregnant women should do what they can to avoid any infection.

If you have COVID-19 when your baby is born, every precaution will be taken to keep your baby safe so you can still have contact and breastfeed if you choose.

Pregnant women should speak with their doctor or midwife about how to stay healthy during this time.

Learn more about COVID-19 and pregnancy.

Are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the most at risk of serious infection?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who live in remote communities are at a higher risk of serious infection from COVID-19 because it can be harder to access healthcare and there are higher rates of other health conditions in the community.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years of age and older who have pre-existing medical conditions are strongly advised — for their own protection — not to leave their home unless absolutely necessary. Wherever possible, you should ask family, friends, neighbours or community members to shop for groceries or collect medicines for you.

To help protect the local Aboriginal population, both the Northern Territory and Western Australia have banned all non-essential travel to, and from, remote indigenous communities. Exemptions are allowed for the delivery of essential goods, services and medical care.

Click here for more information on Northern Territory travel restrictions.

Click here for more information on Western Australia travel restrictions.

More frequently asked questions (FAQs) about COVID-19

Click on the links below for more questions and answers about the coronavirus (COVID-19).


Information and alerts

Visit the Department of Health's website for the latest alerts on COVID-19 in Australia, or the World Health Organization's website for global updates.


Resources in other languages

COVID-19 resources in other languages are available from the Department of Health, as well as from the ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic and WA health departments.

Information is also available in Aboriginal languages (NT).


Information for health professionals

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) provides coronavirus (COVID-19) information for GPs.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2020


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