As Australia gets increasingly serious in its response to coronavirus, people who ignore orders to remain in isolation are warned that they will face hefty fines and even jail time as a result, with penalties exceeding $50,000 in some states.

At present, people who are believed to have contracted COVID-19 have been ordered to stay home and self-isolate for two weeks. So far, the majority of isolation being undertaken in Australia is on a voluntary basis, following doctor’s orders and government advice.

Authorities are concerned, however, that some are ignoring the advice and going out, putting the community at risk.

If voluntary isolation does not work, the next step in trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus would be formal public health orders. Anyone who is given such an order and breaks it could find themselves behind bars or facing a fine.

As it stands, the rules around public health orders differ from state to state. The Daily Mail reports that WA carries the harshest penalties, with fines of up to $50,000 and 12 months in jail for breaches. In NSW it’s an $11,000 fine and six months in jail.

Queensland has fines of $13,345, while in South Australia the amount is $25,000. Tasmania imposes fines of up to $8,400, while in Victoria the maximum is $6,400.

The message seems to be that at this stage, if you are told to self-isolate because of coronavirus, then you should do as instructed for the good of everybody else. If you don’t, you may find yourself slapped with an order, with the full coercive force of the state coming down on you.

“It is an offence to fail to comply with a public health order,” a NSW Department of Health representative said.

It’s worth noting that while you may not get seriously ill, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions risk becoming very sick and even dying if they contract COVID-19. If not for your own sake, then please keep these people in mind.

Per the latest figures, Australia has a total of 199 confirmed coronavirus cases. Three people have died – two in NSW and one in WA – and 23 people have recovered.

Image: Getty Images / Luis Ascui