COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) information for primary health care providers.

Page last updated: 9:00am, 6 May 2021

Urgent updates

  • Chief Health Officer Daily Update 6 May 2021

    Victoria’s Chief Health Officer released a COVID-19 Daily Update at 8:21pm on Thursday, 6 May 2021.

     Read the full update
     Subscribe to receive CHO alerts

    Purpose

    This Chief Health Officer update is intended to provide clinicians and the Victorian public with information about the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Victoria as well as relevant public health response activities in Victoria. This update will be sent regularly.

    Chief Health Officer Alerts will continue to be issued when there are changes to the public health advice related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

    What’s new?

    • Victoria has recorded 2 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours – in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
    • The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Victoria is now 20,526.
    • There were no new deaths and the state’s death toll stands at 820.
    • Victoria has 19 active cases.
    • A total of 5,898,989 test results have been received. This is an increase of 16,400 since yesterday.
    • You can find further details in today’s COVID-19 media release.
    • The Department of Health website has full details in the interactive daily report.

    Latest announcements

    Update: Vaccinations

    A total of 8,163 COVID-19 vaccination doses were administered yesterday by state-commissioned services across Victoria.

    This brings the total number of vaccine doses administered by the Department as of yesterday to 239,468.

    Victorians aged 50 and over are now eligible to receive their vaccination at one of Victoria’s vaccination centres.

    A full list of opening hours and wait times at Victoria’s high-volume vaccinations centres can be seen at Vaccination centres. Appointments can be made by calling 1800 675 398.

    Update: Interstate exposure sites

    New South Wales

    Genomic sequencing results from the COVID-19 case in Sydney have narrowed the field of public health concern. For now, all areas in New South Wales will remain green zones under Victoria’s travel permit system. People entering Victoria from a green zone require a permit. Permits take five minutes to obtain at Service Victoria. Permits help authorities in Victoria contact people should the situation in any state change.

    Authorised Officer presence and spot checking will be increased for incoming flights from Sydney to check for permits. In addition, flight manifests for all flights from Sydney ongoing will continue to be requested from the National Incident Room.

    NSW Health has identified more exposure sites. If you are currently in Victoria and have been to any of the exposure sites on New South Wales COVID case locations website follow the advice listed to test and isolate, and immediately contact the Victorian Department of Health at 1300 651 160.

    NSW Health has tiered exposure sites according to risk. Previously, Victoria was requiring people who attended any exposure site in NSW to quarantine for 14 days.

    This advice will continue to apply for sites designated by NSW Health as ‘close contact’ sites.

    If you are currently in NSW and have visited a listed exposure site, you should be following the advice of NSW Health and should not be travelling to Victoria, or anywhere. This initial positive case came to the attention of authorities because someone with symptoms did the right thing and got tested. It’s an important reminder that anyone with even the mildest of symptoms gets a coronavirus test as soon as possible.

    Queensland

    Queensland Health has published a list of exposure sites on the Queensland Government website.

    If you are currently in Victoria and have been to a Tier 1 exposure site you must immediately contact the Victorian Department of Health at 1300 651 160 and quarantine for 14 days.

    Other Queensland public exposure sites, as listed on the Queensland Government website, are considered Tier 2 exposure sites. Anyone who has visited a Tier 2 exposure site during times listed should contact the Victorian Department of Health at 1300 651 160get a test and isolate until they receive a negative result.

    Western Australia

    Western Australia Health has published a list of exposure sites at Healthy WA.

    Victoria has declared all exposure sites since 27 April as Tier 1 exposure sites. If you are currently in Victoria and have been to a Tier 1 exposure site you must immediately contact the Victorian Department of Health at 1300 651 160 and quarantine for 14 days.

    Victoria will continue to closely monitor the situation and the Perth and Peel regions remain designated orange zones under Victoria’s travel permit system.

    Update: Travel permit zones

    Most of Australia and New Zealand are now green zones.

    Arrivals from green zones still require a permit to enter Victoria, because the information provided supports the speed of Victoria’s response should the public health situation in any location change.

    Permits can be obtained at Service Victoria.

    For more information visit Victorian travel permit system. The Victorian Chief Health Officer will continue monitoring the situation and will provide further updates as needed.

    Testing sites and expanded testing

    Demand for testing is stable across the system, with no waiting times longer than 30 minutes.

    The department is publishing expected wait times at testing sites, as well as updated information about locations and hours of operation at Where to get tested.

    Current advice to clinicians

    Notifications to the department of a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 can be done online. You can submit an online form to our public health team, rather than calling us, saving you time and resolving your case load more efficiently.

    COVID-19 testing criteria

    Practitioners should test any patients who meet the clinical criteria below:

    • Fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation* OR
    • Acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss or changes in sense of smell or taste)
    • Note: testing is also recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19** AND who are from the following cohorts: close contacts of a confirmed case of coronavirus COVID-19; those who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; or those who are healthcare or aged care workers. Testing is recommended for those cohorts with onset of other clinical symptoms**. Asymptomatic testing is not recommended at this stage except for targeted programs.
    • *Clinical discretion applies including consideration of the potential for co-infection (e.g. concurrent infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza)
    • **headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.
    • If a symptomatic patient that presents for testing, confirms exposure to a known COVID-19 case within the past 14 days, and the outbreak definition is met, the test sample is to be treated as an ‘outbreak sample’.

    Victoria’s restriction levels

    The State of Emergency has been extended until 11:59pm on 7 May 2021 to allow the Chief Health Officer’s directions to remain in force.

    Read the full update: Coronavirus COVID-19 daily update for information.

  • Vaccine rollout

    Key messages for primary care providers

     Visit our COVID-19 vaccines page for the latest information for vaccine providers in our region.

    Key messages for the community

    The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Australia started in late February 2021.

     Download Australia’s Epidemiology and COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap.

    • Everyone in Australia will be offered a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.
    • At first doses will be limited so high priority groups will get their vaccines first.
    • The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) gave advice to the Government on prioritising groups for COVID-19 vaccination.
    • The COVID-19 vaccine is voluntary and free. As safe and effective vaccines become available the Government will vaccinate as many Australians as possible for COVID-19.
    • If you choose not to have a COVID-19 vaccine your eligibility for Government payments won’t be affected.

    Quick links

    Find out more about how COVID-19 vaccines are developed, tested and approved.

     More information about how COVID-19 vaccines are being delivered in Australia.

  • Stay up to date with public exposure sites

    New and updated exposure sites are listed on the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website.

    Anyone who has visited Tier 1 exposure sites during the times listed must immediately isolate, get a COVID-19 test, and remain isolated for 14 days.

  • Current key messages

    • COVID-19 vaccines are now available to many Australians. Use the Eligibility Checker to find out when you can book your vaccine appointment. By getting vaccinated you’re helping protect yourself, those you provide care to, and the whole community. 
    • Testing is critical to keeping numbers down, so get tested if you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) no matter how mild. Go straight home after your test and self-isolate while you wait for the results. You must not go out until you get your results. Go to the DHHS testing map  for locations.
    • Public exposure sites are listed on the DHHS website. If you have visited any of the locations listed during the dates indicated, you should watch for coronavirus symptoms. If symptoms occur immediately get tested and stay at home while you wait for results.
    • Notification is required for all confirmed cases. Clinicians can send notifications of confirmed cases to DHHS by submitting an online form to the public health team, or by calling 1300 651 160, immediately, 24 hours a day.
    • COVIDSafe principles apply across Victoria:
      1. You must carry a face mask with you when you leave home. Rules on when you must wear a mask can change frequently. Check the Victorian Government website for the current advice.
      2. It is strongly recommended you wear a face mask when at a private gathering or when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people.
      3. Don’t go to work if you feel unwell.
      4. Maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres.
      5. Cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
      6. Wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitiser regularly.
    • Visit the DHHS website for the latest information on restrictions levels.

Key information for clinicians

  • Current testing criteria and case definition

    Victorian COVID-19 testing criteria

    Generally, only people with symptoms should be tested. However, people without symptoms can be tested in special circumstances as directed by DHHS. Refer to the guidelines for health services and general practitioners for more information on asymptomatic testing.

    Patients who meet the following clinical criteria should be tested:

    Fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation*.

    OR

    Acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss or change in sense of smell or taste).**

    *Clinical discretion applies; consider potential for co-infection (e.g. SARS-CoV-2 and influenza).

    ** Older people may present with other atypical symptoms including functional decline, delirium, exacerbation of underlying chronic condition, falls, loss of appetite, malaise, nausea, diarrhoea and myalgia.

    Additional testing note:

    People who are at higher risk of infection due to their environmental exposure or higher risk of severe illness should also be tested if they have new onset of other clinical symptoms associated with coronavirus (COVID-19) (e.g. headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea) AND meet the following epidemiological criteria:

    • Close contacts of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19).
    • Returned overseas travel in the past 14 days.
    • Health care or aged care workers.
    • Residents of an aged care facility or older people in the community

    Case definition

    Confirmed case

    A person who tests positive to a validated SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test

    OR

    has the virus isolated in cell culture, with PCR confirmation using a validated method

    OR

    undergoes a seroconversion to or has a significant rise in SARS-CoV-2 neutralising or IgG antibody level (i.e. four-fold or greater rise in titre)

    Probable case

    • A person who has detection of SARS-CoV-2 neutralising or IgG antibody AND has had a compatible clinical illness AND meets one or more of the epidemiological criteria outlined in the additional testing note above.

    Case notification

    Only confirmed and probable cases need to be notified to the department.

    You should notify the department of confirmed and probable cases as soon as practicable by either:

  • Outbreak management and high priority COVID-19 tests

    Due to the volume of testing, DHHS is asking GPs who are performing COVID-19 tests to label samples from three priority groups as “URGENT PRIORITY” samples to speed up results.

    If a symptomatic patient that presents for testing confirms there has been an exposure to a known COVID-19 case within the past 14 days, and the outbreak definition* is met, the test sample is to be treated as an ‘outbreak sample’. To ensure all outbreak samples and other urgent priority samples are prioritised for testing in laboratories please follow these instructions:

    Three “at risk” groups whose samples should be labelled “URGENT PRIORITY”:

    Priority 1 (P1): Outbreak

    • Including Close Contacts of a confirmed case, people in quarantine hotel(s), and residents or staff of a known outbreak at a residential aged care facility or a residential disability setting. Note for priority testing a Close Contact must have been notified by DHHS that they are a Close Contact.

    Priority 2 (P2): Symptomatic health care workers and residents including

    • Aged care workers
    • Residential disability setting workers
    • Symptomatic aged care residents, disability setting residents and hospital patients.

    Priority 3 (P3): Other ‘at risk settings’

    • For symptomatic people identified to be from other ‘at-risk’ settings as determined by the referring clinician. This includes non-residential disability settings.

    How to label urgent samples

    1. Sample bag: the outside of the sample bag(s) must have a red sticker** and marked “URGENT PRIORITY”
    2. Pathology slip: must have a red sticker** and be marked as “URGENT PRIORITY” with “P1/P2/P3” to identify the reason why the sample is urgent. For example: “Priority 1– Outbreak“. See above for the three priority groups.
    3. Sample: the sample must be labelled clearly with the patient’s name and date of birth and marked as P1, P2 or P3 to indicate the priority group.

    Samples should then be forwarded on for laboratory testing using normal processes.

    *Please refer to the latest Case and contact management guidelines available on the DHHS website for the definition of “outbreak” and “close contact” in the context of urgent priority testing.

    ** Some GPs and pathology providers are unaware of the red sticker. We have followed up with DHHS, who have advised that GPs do not have to attach a red sticker if they do not have one. GPs can just:

    As of 26 July 2020, URGENT PRIORITY 1 – OUTBREAK samples can now be processed by the receiving pathology provider or hospital laboratory. These samples no longer require referral to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory for processing.

  • Clinical guidelines and key documents

    Nominate someone in your practice or service to check the COVID-19 hub on the DHHS website each day to make sure you have the latest copies of the:

    • quick reference guide and checklist
    • case and contact management guidelines for health services and general practitioners
    • case definition and testing criteria
    • health care worker PPE guidance
    • infection control guidelines.
  • HealthPathways Melbourne

    HealthPathways Melbourne is the best place to find up-to-date clinical advice plus local referral information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Health professionals can access the following COVID-19 pathways on HealthPathways Melbourne:

    These form the suite of COVID-19 pathways, which are being regularly updated with the latest risk criteria and local referral information.

    Health professionals should be aware of increased mental distress, alcohol and other drugs use and risk of family violence during the pandemic. There are many mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and family violence pathways, and these are being regularly updated to reflect service options for your patients.

    Need a login? Contact info@healthpathwaysmelbourne.org.au

Promotional banner for HealthPathways Melbourne

We might be apart, but we're all in this together.


Click here to help share this message in 18 languages.

Stay safe