Sneezing or wheezing? Don’t get sprung this spring.

7 September 2021

Update from our ANU experts, Professor Tracy Smart, our Public Health Lead - ANU COVID Response Office, and Professor Simon Haberle, Director of the School of Culture, History & Language and lead of the Canberra Pollen team. 

Hay fever and asthma season is well and truly here already, not just in Canberra but across Australia. Like last year, this season is likely to be another bad one, with regular sufferers experiencing worse symptoms than previous years, and others may start suffering symptoms for the first time in their life. 

The hay fever season in Canberra runs from late winter through to early Autumn and affects one in three people over this period. 

Given the current COVID outbreaks across Australia, including here in Canberra, it is vital that we don't assume that our symptoms are related to allergies. 

"I'm pretty sure it's hay fever or asthma" 

You should treat any cold-like symptoms like COVID until proven otherwise. In other words, if in doubt get tested, particularly when there is local transmission of COVID-19 occurring. 

If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, get tested and stay at home until you get a negative result. These include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, or runny or blocked nose.

"I have confirmed that it is hay fever or asthma" 

If you have asthma or hay fever, the ACT Health advice is to have a good plan to manage your symptoms. Call or see your GP to discuss a management plan for your hay fever or asthma, including when you might need to get tested for COVID-19. 

If you follow the advice of your GP, you might not need to get tested every time you have hay fever or asthma symptoms. 

The pollen forecast 

We are currently recording high levels of allergenic tree pollen from common trees found across Canberra including Cypress Pine, Pine, Elm and Poplar trees 

The climate conditions experienced throughout the year (wet winter leading to high soil moisture and increasing temperatures into spring and summer) lead us to predict a severe allergenic airborne pollen season is ahead for Canberra this year. 

You can find out more about these pollen types on our website and Both websites give you access to freely available apps from iPhone and Android phones and these apps can be used to find out what pollen is abundant on any given day, a seven-day forecast from grass pollen and interactive surveys to help you manage your symptoms through the allergy season. 

Follow Simon (@thatpollenguy) and Canberra Pollen (@CanberraPollen) on Twitter for up-to-date information and commentary/links to scientific literature and related citizen science.