Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that had not previously been identified in humans. It can be spread from person to person and continues to be an evolving international health concern.
COVID-19 testing facilities have been established in Western Sydney to test patients who are suspected of or have symptoms relating to COVID-19. Patients should visit a clinic or collection centre if they have a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath and meet the current NSW Health testing criteria.
The test is FREE and generally takes less than 10 minutes. Results should be available between 24 to 72 hours after testing. During this time patients are required to self-isolate until they receive their test results.
If a patient returns a positive COVID-19 test result, it’s a requirement to notify the Public Health Unit.
Find out more about these facilities, including if a GP referral is required, how and when to make an appointment, locations and operating hours on our COVID-19 Testing Locations in Western Sydney webpage or our COVID-19 Testing Facility Guide for Western Sydney webpage.
The Australian Government aims to have as many people vaccinated as possible in 2021. Identified priority groups will get the first available safe and effective doses of vaccines.
Find out more about the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination National Rollout Strategy, the latest information and FAQs on our COVID-19 Vaccination webpage.
COVID-19 Information for Our Health Professionals
We recommend health care professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest advice and information. As information changes we will update GPs as it becomes available.
The DoH has extended the healthdirect Video Call COVID-19 GP Program to 31 December 2021. The secure video consulting platform has been purpose-built for general practitioners working in private practice and/or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).
In collaboration with the RACGP, healthdirect is offering the following CPD courses that support GPs and Practice Managers to use Video Call more confidently and effectively.
Essential Video Call training
This module is for GPs and Practice Managers new to Video Call and covers the basic functionality of the platform. Register for essential training.
Advanced Video Call training
This module covers more advanced use of the platform. The course will also suit Practice Managers and anyone interested in how Video Call can reshape the provision of services to patients or clients. Register for advanced training.
On Monday 20 July it became a legislative requirement that GPs and Other Medical Practitioner working in general practice can only perform a telehealth or telephone service where they have an existing relationship with the patient. There are limited exemptions to this requirement.
The GP bulk billing incentive will double for GPs to look after pensioners, under-16s and concession card holders.
For more information is available below:
- COVID-19 COVID-19 Temporary MBS Telehealth Services
- COVID-19 Temporary MBS Telehealth Services Provider Frequently Asked Questions
- Telehealth Information for Veterans
A consumer facstheet for COVID-19 Telehleath Services is also available.
The DoH has also created a COVID-19 Primary Care Info Graphic online.
On Sunday 2 August, the Government announced they will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subject to further restrictions in areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
New MBS items will be available under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS initiative (Better Access) from Friday 7 August until 31 March 2021.
The additional 10 sessions will be available to:
- patients in areas with public health orders in place that restrict movement within the state or territory at any time from 1 July to 31 March (e.g. lockdown or stay at home orders); and
- patients that are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders.
In order to access these sessions, patients will be required to:
- have a Mental Health Treatment Plan;
- have used all of their 10 sessions in the calendar year; and
- undertake a review with their GP after their tenth session.
To help keep GPs updated with these changes to telehealth we’ve created a COVID-19 MBS telehealth webpage that lists useful item numbers for your practice.
The DoH has developed a COVID-19 Telehealth Items Guide that provides GPs with valuable supporting information, on the requirements associated with these temporary items.
Healthdirect video call is a free, easy-to-use, trusted and reliable telehealth option for both GPs and patients to conduct video consultations. Download the New Organisation setup details online to get started.
View this short video to learn more about the Healthdirect Video Call service
The RACGP have created resources to help GPs navigate these changes with the current COVID-19 situation. General practices are rapidly changing the way care is accessed and delivered to ensure the safety of their practice teams, patients and the broader community. One of these changes is increasing the ability for general practice consultations to be conducted via telehealth, these include:
- The Guide to providing telephone and video consultations in general practice will help general practices provide safe and effective video consultations.
- The Telephone and video consultations in general practice: Flowcharts provide practical steps to take in setting up your practice for telephone and video consultations.
APNA telehealth online training is now available for nurses interested in learning more about providing telehealth consults during the COVID-19 pandemic. This interactive module will provide you with the knowledge and skills to facilitate telehealth consults, within a primary health care setting.
As part of the National Health Plan, electronic prescribing has been fast tracked.
The Department of Health have created some useful resources that provide information on issues such as PBS claiming arrangements, supply of medicine to patients, signing for receipts of a prescription, repeats and existing prescriptions.
- Electronic prescribing – a guide for prescribers
- Electronic prescribing – a guide for pharmacists
- Electronic prescribing – a guide for patients
More information on Electronic Prescriptions is available on our dedicated webpage.
Information for your Practice
The Department of Health (DoH) have a guidance document: Distribution of PPE through PHNs tranche 4: respirators for general practice, community pharmacy, and allied health, to reflect changes in advice on mask wearing in the context of increased community transmission of COVID-19.
Health providers are still encouraged to source PPE through their normal commercial means in the first instance, to conserve the National Medical Stockpile’s limited stock of PPE for front line health workers.
You can view previous versions of DoH’s Distribution of PPE through PHNs guidance below:
DoH also have a dedicated page on Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health workforce during COVID-19.
The RACGP has a suite of videos on the appropriate use of PPE and hand sanitiser to help protect yourself, practice staff and patients during COVID-19:
As a Primary Health Network (PHN), we need to use discretion when providing PPE to health care providers, including increased quantities where we deem appropriate, recognising that each provider’s needs will be on a case-by-case basis.
Surgical and P2 masks have been supplied in limited numbers to PHNs for distribution to general practice, pharmacy and health care staff who are exposed to at risk customers.
- To register your request for surgical masks please complete our Mask Request Form. However before submitting your request for masks, please refer to the PHN locator link to check if you are in the Western Sydney area. Any requests submitted outside our area will not be processed.
- DoH 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).
- DoH has provided the following useful resource about the use of face masks and respirators in the context of COVID-19.
Our Practice Development Officers have been coordinating the distribution of these masks, adhering to the DoH Distribution of PPE through PHNs guidance.
As per the department’s guidelines, we are prioritising dispatch to practices, pharmacies and above-mentioned health care service providers in Western Sydney who are:
- in these areas where there is limited supply,
- have a population that may be more likely to have been exposed to COVID-19; and/or
- have unusual numbers of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms.
Should you have any questions or inquiries, please contact our Helpdesk on 8811 7117.
Practices should refer the NSW Health website for the latest COVID-19 clinics.
- Arrange Telehealth assessment of patients with respiratory symptoms if they meet the Suspect Case Definition.
- Arrange further assessment and testing, either at your practice (noting the infection control requirements and you will need to organise specimen collection) a COVID-19 Pathology Collection Centre, GP-led Respiratory Clinic or COVID-19 Clinic. Visit our COVID-19 Testing Locations in Western Sydney webpage for locations, opening hours and referral requirements.
- If you are notified of a positive COVID-19 test result, need advice, or have concerns about the ability of a patient to self-isolate, e.g. if they live in a residential facility, contact the Public Health Unit. In NSW calling 1300 066 055 will direct to your local Public Health Unit.
We have provided an adaptable Triage Guide for COVID-19 to suit your practice when triaging patient.
Translated COVID-19 Testing in Western Sydney Flyers
Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) have created a COVID-19 Testing in Western Sydney flyer which is available in nine languages to help community members access important information regarding testing requirements and locations in our region.
This flyer is available in the following languages:
Testing and Triage Resources
- Collection of nasal and throat swabs for respiratory virus testing – NSW Health
- COVID-19 Swab Collection: Upper respiratory specimen – Australian Government
- COVID-19 testing locations in Western Sydney fact sheet
- Responding to a COVID-19 case in the practice team – RACGP
- For details on recommended testing and infection control measures see the latest advice on keeping patients safe
- Downloadable fact sheet from Australian Department of Health PPE and care of patients with or suspected of having COVID-19
- Responding to a COVID-19 case in the practice team fact sheet from RACGP.
- How to put on and how to remove PPE – WHO
- Link to Infection control training video for health care workers
- Principles of Infection Prevention and Control – RACGP
- If you would like to order hand sanitiser available to GPs, allied health workers and medical specialists, download the form online
In a state-wide effort to provide primary care providers with consistent and up to date information and clinical guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic, a COVID-19 Response Package consisting of a range of COVID-19 specific pathways are now available on Western Sydney HealthPathways.
In an effort to help practices keep up-to-date with Government information and changes relating to COVID-19, we have created a Business Continuity for Practices webpage.
The webpage provides information on telehealth changes, preparing your practice and information and support for business continuity.
As our focus is to address the health and needs of the Western Sydney community, your mental health and well-being as primary health care professionals are just as important. We understand that you are usually on the frontline of social crises, such as bushfire disaster and pandemic, not only witnessing the physical health impacts but the emotional impacts of these events.
It is important that during this time of increased community anxiety that you remember to take care of yourself. Resources are available to support practices on our Business Continuity for Practices webpage.
Health professionals involved in the care of people with disability diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can call the COVID-19 Health Professionals National Disability Advisory Service during the new operating times of 8am to 9pm (AEST) Monday to Friday on 1800 131 330.
Calls to the service are answered by health professionals with disability service qualifications and experience working with people with disability.
Specific support may be required to address communication and management issues, such as behaviours of concern and the reduction of risk to the patient and staff involved in the process. Healthdirect Australia have created a poster for GPs which you can display in your consultation rooms.
Find out more by visiting the Healthdirect Australia website.
What if your patient is an international student and has no Medicare?
Most people that are not eligible for Medicare will have health or travel insurance. For those that do not have adequate insurance coverage, NSW Health will waive these costs to help support international students. This includes the waiving of payment and debt recovery procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment.
If your patient test positive to COVID-19 and require treatment, NSW Health will also waive these costs. This includes waiving payment and debt recovery procedures for people seeking treatment at NSW Health facilities.
These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.
For more information on student support visit NSW Government website or call 1800 020 080.
Pen CS launched the COVID-19 National Guidance Topbar App. This app provides guidance, key links and resources for practitioners surrounding COVID-19. Practitioners have access to key information from the following organisations, straight from Topbar:
- Australian Government DoH
- World Health Organization
- State/Territories Departments of Health
- Primary Health Networks
The App is available to all Topbar users.
- Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19 – DoH
- Youth Health COVID-19 Testing Message for Community Partners – WSLHD
- COVID-19 information for people with disability – NSW Health
- CDNA national guidelines for public health units – DoH
- Managing pandemics – RACGP
The latest NSW Health advice to residential aged care facilities and home care service providers updated on 1 February is available below:
COVID-19 Training and Education
We run webinars on a variety of COVID-19 topics that have been designed specifically for health care professionals in Western Sydney, where you will hear from local experts. Find out more by visiting our COVID-19 Webinars webpage.
General practices can also keep an eye out on our Events Calendar webpage with new events added daily.
The DoH is hosting a series of webinars for primary care practitioners working on the national COVID-19 response. For more information on upcoming webinars and previous recordings, visit their website.
- The RACGP has an ongoing series of COVID-19 podcasts (under webinars, podcasts and education) to assist you with the latest information. Most of them are 5–10 minutes long, you can listen to them anytime. Recently, the Just a GP hosts spoke to two GPs in Western Sydney, Dr Kean-Seng Lim and WentWest Board member, Dr Wally Jammal, about telehealth changes due to COVID-19.
- “Practice That” (eg. Prescription images with NSW Health, MBS Update with Brett McPherson)
- “Just GP: RACGP special COVID-19 podcasts”
- “Generally Speaking”: Podcast series for health professionals
The Western Sydney Local Health District have also launched their very own podcast called Western Sydney Health Check. The first episode explores their organisation’s response to COVID-19, featuring Chief Executive Graeme Loy.
Coronacast is daily podcast by Dr Norman Swan that helps answer common questions about Coronavirus, breaking down the latest news and research.
You can view previous podcasts for more information.
A news and education podcast for Australian nurses, working together towards a healthier Australia, presented by APNA. Nurses can keep up-to-date with the latest news, listen to interviews, learn with education segments and hear stories from nurses on the frontline of Australian health.
The Department of Health is encouraging care workers across the primary care sector, including general practice, pharmacy, allied health, Aboriginal Health Workers and other primary care workers to attend the free COVID-19 – Infection Control Online Training Module.
This module covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control topics including:
- COVID-19 – what is it?
- signs and symptoms
- protecting yourself and others and
- myth Busting
The module takes approximately 30 minutes.
NSW Health together with the RACGP has provided webinar updates on the outbreak of COVID-19.
Recordings of previous webinars can be found below:
- COVID-19 response update for GPs – 3 December 2020
- COVID-19 response update for primary care and allied health practitioners – 25 November 2020
- COVID-19 response update for mental health practitioners – 24 November 2020
- COVID-19 response update for GPs – 19 November 2020
- COVID-19 response update for GPs – 5 November 2020
- COVID-19 response update for primary care and allied health practitioners – 28 October 2020
- COVID-19 response update for GPs – 22 October 2020
- COVID-19 response update for GPs – 8 October 2020
- COVID-19 response update for Disability – 7 October 2020
- COVID-19 response update for primary care and allied health practitioners – 30 September 2020
- COVID-19 response update for GPs – 24 September 2020
- COVID-19 response update for GPs – 10 September 2020
- COVID-19 update webinar – 3 September 2020
- COVID-19 update webinar – 31 August 2020
- COVID-19 update webinar – 17 August 2020
- COVID-19 update webinar – 28 July 2020
- COVID-19 update webinar – 7 July 2020
- COVID-19 update webinar – 11 June 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 27 May 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 27 April 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 16 April 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 31 March 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 18 March 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 5 March 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 20 February 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 11 February 2020
- COVID-19 webinar update – 4 February 2020
Posters for your practice:
- Tell staff immediately if… – NSW Health
- Who should get tested at COVID-19 clinics? – NSW Health
- Just got tested for COVID-19 QR code – NSW Health
- Stop the spread poster – NSW Health
- Identifying the symptoms – NSW Health
- Wear a mask – NSW Health
Help stop the spread:
- Social distancing poster – DoH
- Keep that cough under cover – DoH
- Have you recently travelled overseas – DoH
- Temporary closure poster for businesses – DoH
- Simple steps to stop the spread – DoH
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) – frequently asked questions – NSW Health
- What you need to know – DoH
- Find the facts – NSW Health
- COVID-19 testing – NSW Government
- Factsheet – COVID-19 information for Older Australians – DOH
- Dementia Help Sheets to navigate coronavirus COVID-19 – Dementia Australia
Also available in:
NSW Health, The Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Department of Health and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation have developed a range of COVID-19 resources for the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community below:
- COVID-19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flyer – WSPHN
- Just Got Tested For COVID-19? – WSLHD
- Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Pandemic Response Toolkit
- Seasonal Influenza Preparedness Toolkit for NSW ACCHSs
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19 Communiques – DoH
- National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) Coronavirus updates
- New laws impact public gatherings, including funerals and Sorry Business – NSW Health
- Keeping our Communities Healthy: Sorry Business and COVID-19 – NSW Health
- COVID-19 Mental Health Resources – Gayaa Dhuwi
- Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – DoH
COVID-19 is an evolving international health concern. We are publishing regular updates on this page, but encourage health professionals to also view the latest advice and information from NSW Health, DoH and the RACGP, as well as current clinical guidance from our HealthPathways website.
COVID-19 Information for Our Community
To help you keep up-to-date with the latest advice about COVID-19, we’ve sourced a range of information and resources for you and your family.
What You Need to Know
- Frequently Asked Questions – NSW Health
- How to wear a mask video – NSW Health
- Health advice update on wearing masks – NSW Health
- What you need to know about COVID-19 – DoH
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Alert – DoH
- Information on social distancing – DoH
- Information for people with a suspected case of COVID-19 – DoH
- How to avoid infection and spreading of COVID-19 – healthdirect
- Face masks recommended for community in COVID-19 hot spots – ACSQHC
- Expert Advice Matters campaign – RACGP
As COVID-19 continually evolves, we will be providing information from NSW Government and other health organisations on restrictions, guidelines and advice, to ensure you and your family are informed with the latest updates.
- Current restrictions
- Changes to the rules
- Frequently Asked Questions about the rules
- Social distancing: Reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection
- Four square metre rule
- How to protect yourself and others
Travel and transport
A series of videos about Home-isolation during COVID-19 have been provided from the Western Sydney Local Health District to help support you and your family with coping COVID-19 during the time. Each video will touch on mental health and productivity, fitness and exercising and the importance of keeping you and your family safe, healthy and connected when isolating from home.
- Translated COVID-19 Symptoms and Testing in Western Sydney resources – WSLHD
- COVID-19 explained in your language – SBS
- COVID-19 information in your language – SBS
- Protection and physical distancing – NSW Health
- Translated COVID-19 resources – DoH
- Translated factsheets on managing chronic disease and COVID-19 – NSW Health
- Auslan video – NSW Health
An important message about COVID-10 video is also available in the following languages:
- COVID-19 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flyer
- Just Got Tested For COVID-19? Information for the Aboriginal community
- COVID-19 Myths
- COVID-19 Community Resources for Western Sydney
- COVID-19 resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- Keeping our Communities Healthy: Protect community and Elders
- Keeping our Communities Healthy: New laws impact public gathering, including funerals and Sorry Business
- Keeping our Communities Healthy brochure
- Preventing Coronavirus Outbreak in Aboriginal Communities
- COVID-19 Mental Health Resources – Gayaa Dhuwi
- Influenza Vaccination During COVID-19 – NCIRS
A series of videos have been provided from WSLHD to support the Aboriginal community with understanding COVID-19 information.
COVID-19 is impacting all Australians. However, with restrictions and self-isolation these can particular challenge older Australians. To support older Australians in Western Sydney, information and resources have been provided from Department of Health (DOH) to help you or your family member seek advice on how to cope during this time.
- COVID-19: Advice for aged care services
- Advice to home care providers
- Advice for people at risk of COVID-19
- Advice for people in aged care facilities
- NSW Health alert: 14 day guidelines for Aged Care visitors
- Factsheet – COVID-19 information for Older Australians
- If you or a family member need support, contact Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866. This support line is available Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8:30am to 6pm.
- Friend Line is also a free phone service providing the opportunity to chat with a volunteer. Available daily from 10am to 8pm on 1800 424 287.
- Free webinars are available through the Be Connected program to help improve the online skills of older Australians.
- Advice for people with chronic health conditions – DoH
- COVID-19 and heart disease – Heart Foundation
- Dementia Help Sheets to navigate COVID-19 – Dementia Australia
- COPD and COVID-19 – Lung Foundation Australia
- Information for people affected by hepatitis B or C
To help people with a disability, and those caring for them, understand COVID-19, the Department of Health (DoH) have developed a range of resources, including Auslan videos.
Visit DoHs webpage for more information or access these resources from the below links:
What if I don’t have Medicare?
Students that are not eligible for Medicare will have health or travel insurance. For those that do not have adequate insurance coverage, NSW Health will waive these costs to help support international students. This includes the waiving of payment and debt recovery procedures for ambulance transfers of people suspected to have COVID-19 infection, who are taken to NSW Health facilities for assessment.
These arrangements have been put in place to ensure payment issues are not a barrier for people from overseas with respiratory symptoms seeking early medical advice.
If you test positive to COVID-19 and require treatment, NSW Health will also waive these costs. This includes waiving payment and debt recovery procedures for people seeking treatment at NSW Health facilities.
For more information on student support visit NSW Government website or call Study Australia Partners on 1300 981 621.
Where to Seek Health Advice
If you’re feeling unwell and are unsure whether to see your doctor or manage your symptoms at home, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or:
- Call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for people with questions regarding prevention and the spread of COVID-19
- Call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 to speak to a registered nurse who can provide advice when you’re not sure what to do — whether you should see a local GP, manage the condition at home, or go to an emergency department, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Call the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866. The Support Line provides information, support and connection to Older Australians. their families, friends and carers. The free service is available Monday to Friday, 8.30am – 6pm.
The healthdirect website includes the following information and tools:
- Specific information on the new COVID-19, including symptoms, spread, rate of infection, diagnosis and treatment.
- healthdirect blog “FAQs about the COVID-19 outbreak” – can be shared on your social media, will be updated as required.
- healthdirect Symptom Checker guides you to the appropriate healthcare action and updated with information on COVID-19. This is also available on the healthdirect app.
- healthdirect provides information on isolation and how to self-isolate during COVID-19.
The Australian Government has released an official app with the information you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19). You can download the Coronavirus Australia app and theCOVIDSafe app to help protect you and your family.
MyAus is a multi-lingual resource app that provides resources and information about COVID-19 in over 20 different languages. This app is the first multi-lingual feature that allows users to switch languages when they like without compromising their experience. To access the latest information of COVID-19 in your language, download the MyAus app from the Apple Store or Google Play.
The Australian Government has started an official WhatsApp channel with the information you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19).
Message +61 400 253 787 or go to aus.gov.au/whatsapp in your web browser to get coronavirus information you can trust from the official Australian Government chatbot.
Telehealth is a secure and easy way to connect with a health professional through phone consultation and/or video conferencing. It offers benefits for patients, health care workers and the health system through improved access, availability, and efficiency of quality health care. Telehealth consultations are bulk billed to Medicare which contributes to providing efficient and effective quality care that works with but does not replace face-to-face consultation. Telehealth helps to remove the stress of living well by using technology we have in our everyday lives, to help us look after our health more easily.
How to book an appointment?
If you are interested in booking a telehealth appointment, contact your local health service or general practice. For more information you can contact Telehealth Helpline on 6325 0860.
As part of the National Health Plan, information and resources about telehealth have been provided to help you and your family receive the right health care.
With COVID-19 evolving, we understand that this time can be overwhelming and difficult for you and your family. Official Government website’s have created information that will inform you on how to keep healthy during this time. To keep up-to-date with the latest information, click on the links below:
Information on this page is correct as of 4:00pm AEST Monday 19 April 2021.