Coronavirus

Last updated 4.00 pm,17 February 2020

Public Health Units

In NSW calling 1300 066 055 will direct to your local Public Health Unit

South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit - 9382 8333
After hours emergency - 9382 2222, ask for Public Health Officer on call

Sydney Public Health Unit - 9515 9420
After hours emergency - 9515 6111, ask for Public Health Officer on call

Current situation

For up to date NSW coronavirus information visit the NSW Health webpage below:

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

Click the link below to view the latest advice to GPs from NSW Health (14 February 2020):

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Documents/2020/novel-coronavirus-latest-gp-alert.pdf

Masks for Community Pharmacies

Surgical masks will be supplied to PHNs in the coming days for community Pharmacists who are exposed to at risk customers.  Pharmacists with a confirmed need are to lodge their requests with their local PHN.  

The Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced the additional release of masks yesterday, saying:

"We will be providing an additional 300,000 surgical masks to the primary health networks for supporting doctors, health workers and also pharmacists, not as a sale item for pharmacists but in case there is a potential patient who reports, for the patient, for anybody associated with them and for pharmacy staff."

If you are a Community Pharmacy in the CESPHN area:

To register your request for surgical masks please phone
CESPHN on: 1300 986 991 (option 0) or email info@cesphn.com.au.  

These masks are for use by staff when in contact with potentially at-risk customers – not for sale. The surgical masks are strictly for staff of pharmacies and are not to be on sold.

The Department of Health has advised that stocks from the National Medical Stockpile are limited and masks should only be used in accordance with the guidance provided by The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

Pathology collection centres for coronavirus testing

NSW Health has developed a list of centres for each pathology provider that are able to collect samples for novel coronavirus testing.

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus-testing.aspx

Home isolation

NSW Health requires that all people who:

  • have had contact with any confirmed Covid-19 case; or
  • have travelled to Hubei Province, China;
  • left mainland China on or after 1 February 2020 including transit passengers;

be isolated at home for 14 days from the date of their last contact or the date of departure from China.

Isolated at home means no activities outside the home, except for seeking medical care.

People who are isolated at home should not go to work, should not go to school, should not use public areas, and they should not use public transportation or taxis. Should a person isolated at home require medical care, wherever possible they should call first. Appropriate contacts are their GP, local emergency department or the HealthDirect helpline on 1800 022 222.

Click the link below to view the latest advice to GPs from NSW Health:

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Documents/2020/novel-coronavirus-latest-gp-alert.pdf

There are links to home isolation fact sheets for patients in both English and Mandarin on the NSW Health coronavirus web page:
https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

 

Telephone triage in general practice

The current Covid-19 suspect case definition is:

  • History of travel in, or transit through, mainland China (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) in the 14 days before illness onset, 
    OR any contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19;

AND

  • Fever or acute respiratory infection ( eg shortness of breath or cough)

The expanded testing recommendation (for surveillance) is:

  • NSW Health also recommends Covid-19 testing for patients who have traveled to Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, or Indonesia in the 14 days before onset of symptoms. 

If a patient calls you and they meet the suspect case definition, or the expanded testing recommendation:

  • Arrange further assessment and testing, either at your practice (noting the infection control requirements below) or refer to your local emergency department
  • If you need further information, phone your public health unit on 1300 066 055.

Walk in patients

If a patient who meets the suspect case definition, or the expanded testing recommendation attends your practice:

  • Ask the patient to wear a surgical mask and move them to a separate room.
  • Either:
    • phone your local emergency department to arrange a referral for testing
    • phone your local pathology collection centre to arrange for specimen collection or
    • take the specimens at the practice yourself (noting that there are additional infection control requirements for this)
  • For detail on recommended testing and infection control measures see the latest Advice to GPs from NSW Health: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Documents/2020/novel-coronavirus-latest-gp-alert.pdf

Most patients will not require hospital admission. Advise the patient that after testing they must continue to wear a surgical mask and self-isolate at home as per the home isolation guidelines.

NSW Health posters for display in your practice

NSW Health have created two posters that are relevant for general practice in the current situation. Click the links below to access them: 

Creating a coronavirus alert message for online booking systems

HotDoc

HotDoc has provided detailed instructions on how you can create a coronavirus alert message to your online bookings profile to ensure thorough triage protocols are used during this heightened time. Click the link below for more information:

https://support.hotdoc.com.au/hc/en-gb/articles/360038868532-Creating-an-alert-message-for-an-emerging-health-concern.

You can contact HotDoc support directly at the email address below:

support@hotdoc.com.au

HealthEngine

Practices who use HealthEngine for appointment bookings are encouraged to update their intial booking message to request patients call their GP, Emergency Department or healthdirect for advice before attending if they have symptoms and meet the criteria that could indicate novel coronavirus. 

To update this message, practices need to log into their HealthEngine profile, go to Practice Admin Settings, click on Practice Policy and from here the first message that potential patients see can be customised with this information.

If you need more information or would like additional support, please contact HealthEngine directly on the following phone number:

1300 377 639.

Docbook

The Docbook team is able to implement alerts for your practice by request. Please contact them at info@doctorbook.com.au with the exact text that you would like displayed and they can implement this for you.

About novel coronavirus 

Covid-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans. The novel coronavirus is closely related to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus and in the same family as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus.

The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) can be spread from person to person most likely by coughing or contact with respiratory secretions.

Symptoms

The most common symptom is a fever. Other symptoms include cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia with severe acute respiratory distress, however there is a spectrum of disease. It is unknown at this stage how long symptoms take to present but most likely between two and 14 days.

Further information

NSW Health coronavirus information page 

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx

Respiratory pandemic illness pathway (South Eastern Sydney HealthPathways)

https://sesydney.communityhealthpathways.org/343503.htm 

Novel coronavirus - frequently asked questions 

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/coronavirus-faqs.aspx

RACGP information on coronavirus

https://www.racgp.org.au/coronavirus

Australian Government Department of Health

https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov

World Health organisation

https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus

Coronavirus Health Information Line

https://health.govcms.gov.au/contacts/coronavirus-health-information-line

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