Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified in humans and can be spread from person to person. COVID-19 is an evolving international health concern. As information changes we will update GPs as it becomes available. We recommend GPs stay up-to date with the latest advice and information. 

Temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) items will allow doctors, nurses and mental health professionals to deliver services via telehealth, provided those services are bulk billed. Find out more on the MBS webpage

A MBS Changes Factsheet is available that explains the latest changes to temporary MBS Telehhealth Services and Items. 

In the Western Sydney region, there are currently three COVID-19/Flu Clinics which are available to carry out both assessment and pathology collection for patients that may be suspected of having 2019 Novel Coronavirus. 

Find out more about these clincis and how to refer a patient by visiting our Local COVID-19/Flu Clinics webpage

There are a number of dedicated Pathology collections centres in Western Sydney and across NSW that have been specifically set up to test patients for 2019 Novel Coronavirus. 

Find out more about these centres and how to refer a patient by visiting our Local COVID-19 Pathology Collection Centres webpage

The current testing for COVID-19 in NSW is recommended for:

  • Travellers from overseas with onset of respiratory symptoms or fever within 14 days of return
  • Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with respiratory symptoms or fever within 14 days of last contact
  • Health care workers with recent onset of respiratory symptoms AND fever irrespective of travel history. Healthcare workers who have fever OR respiratory symptoms should be assessed for testing on a case by case basis
  • Patients admitted to hospital with acute respiratory illness or unexplained fever
  • Patients with acute respiratory illness or fever in high risk settings such as hospitals, aged care facilities, residential care facilities, boarding schools, cruise ships
  • Patients with acute respiratory illness or fever presenting with reported links to settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred
  • Patients with unexplained respiratory symptoms or fever in Aboriginal rural and remote communities.

People without symptoms should not be tested. 

Phone calls

If a patient calls you and they meet the suspect case definition:

  • Arrange further assessment and testing, either at your practice (noting the infection control requirements) a pathology collection centre 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 attends your practice:

  • Ask the patient to wear a surgical mask and move them to a separate room.
  • Either:
    • refer the patient to your local emergency department 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 from NSW Health.

In early February we received a supply of masks to distribute to general practices across the region. The Practice Development Officers have been coordinating the distribution, adhering to the Department of Health (DoH) Distribution of PPE through PHNs guidance. We are aware there are areas, due to high demand and the recent bushfires, that have limited to no supply available commercially. As per the department’s guidelines, we are prioritising dispatch to practices and pharmacies 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.

General practices and pharmacies are asked to complete the Mask Request Form to assist our team with mask requirements for their practice. 

Should you have any questions or inquiries, please contact our Helpdesk on 8811 7117.

Please read the use of surgical mask factsheet online for more information. 

NSW Health together with the RACGP have provided webinar updates on the outbreak of COVID-19 for GPs.

Recordings of previous webinars can be found below:

Questions and answers from these sessions are also available online.

HotDoc

HotDoc has provided detailed instructions on how you can create a COVID-19 alert message to your online bookings profile to ensure thorough triage protocols are used during this time. 

You can contact HotDoc support at 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 COVID-19. 

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.

Pen CS launched the COVID-19 National Guidance Topbar App last month. 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
  • RACGP
  • State/Territories Departments of Health
  • Primary Health Networks

The App is available to all Topbar users.

The healthdirect website includes the following information and tools:

The following helplines are also available:

  • 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.

Key Sources

COVID-19 is an evolving international health concern. We recommend health care professionals to stay up-to date with the latest advice and information from DoH, NSW Health and the RACGP visit:

Information on this page is correct as of 3:30pm AEST Thursday 26 March 2020.