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

Page last updated: 10:15pm, 5 April 2020

Urgent updates

URGENT: New testing criteria, case definition and guidelines for health services and general practitioners

The Guidelines for health services and general practitioners and the Quick reference guide have been updated to version 17 (5 April 2020). The guidelines are available on the DHHS website. We will provide a summary soon.

The testing criteria and case definition have also been updated. However, clinicians should still only test people with symptoms.

New groups of people with symptoms who can be tested include:  

People who have worked in public facing roles in the following settings within the last 14 days:

  • Homelessness support
  • Child protection
  • The police force
  • Firefighters who undertake emergency medical response
  • Childcare and early childhood education
  • Primary or secondary schools

Any person in other high-risk settings, including:

  • Aged care, disability and other residential care facilities
  • Military operational settings
  • Boarding schools
  • Correctional facilities
  • Detention centres
  • Settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, in consultation with the department.

See the full case definition below or visit the DHHS website for more information.

URGENT: Chief Health Officer update 3 April 2020

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer released a COVID-19 alert at 9:03pm on Sunday, 5 April 2020.

 Read the full alert
 Subscribe to receive CHO alerts

Key messages

  • See the Victorian COVID-19 website for updated case definition and testing recommendations as well as Chief Health Officer updates.
  • Up-to-date epidemiological data is also now available on the department website.
  • Victoria’s testing criteria for COVID-19 have changed, effective immediately.
  • Doctors who are requesting COVID-19 testing are asked to ensure that a current contact phone number for the patient is included on all pathology request forms.
  • Advise all patients who have clinical symptoms but do not meet the testing criteria to remain home and not attend work, school or any public places until symptoms have completely resolved.
  • Notification is required, by telephone, for all confirmed cases of COVID-19. The department is following-up all close contacts of confirmed cases.
  • A State of Emergency has been declared in Victoria from 16 March 2020 until 13 April 2020 to combat COVID-19.
  • A number of directions are now in force with requiring important physical distancing interventions, issued in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared state of emergency.
  • Self-assessment guidelines are available for the public together with guidelines for health care and residential care workers on the website at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus
  • Any person with a fever or respiratory symptoms is advised to ring the 24-hour hotline 1800 675 398.
  • Health care workers who have had close contact with a confirmed case, or who are diagnosed with COVID-19, can now access free accommodation to support their isolation and quarantine if required.
UPDATED: Orders for pharmacists, vaccinations and prescription medications

Updated 3 April 2020

Vaccinations

  • Victorian pharmacists can now administer approved vaccinations outside of their normal location – through the mobile and outreach services of a hospital, pharmacy or pharmacy depot, increasing access to immunisations for all Victorians. .
  • It is also easier for younger Victorians to get these immunisations from their local pharmacy. Appropriately trained pharmacists can now administer the flu shot to children 10 years of age and older.

Prescription medicines

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmacists can supply prescription medications without a prescription for one month in emergency circumstances except for Schedule 8 medicines.
  • Doctors prescribing Schedule 8 medicines for non-drug dependent patients will not be required to apply for a Schedule 8 treatment permit for the next six months, but instead check SafeScript.
  • Practitioners will need to apply for Schedule 8 treatment permits for drug dependent patients, including opioid replacement therapy.
  • During the pandemic health practitioners should take all reasonable steps to access SafeScript, as it is a very effective in providing up-to-date information about a patient’s prescribing and dispensing history.
  • Two new public health emergency orders have come into effect and can be found here.

Current key messages

  • Only patients who meet at least one clinical AND at least one epidemiological criterion should be tested (see case definition below).
  • Notification is required for all confirmed cases by calling 1300 651 160, immediately, 24 hours a day. Notification of suspected cases is no longer required.
  • People aged over 70, those aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.
  • Everyone else in Victoria must stay at their usual place of residence, other than to work or study, buy essential goods or services, seek medical care or compassionate needs, or to exercise.

Current case definition and testing criteria

Only people with symptoms should be tested.

Patients who meet at least one clinical AND at least one epidemiological criterion should be tested:

Clinical criteria:

Fever (≥38°C) or history of fever (for example night sweats, chills)

OR

Acute respiratory infection (for example, shortness of breath, cough, sore throat).

Epidemiological criteria:

Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases with onset of symptoms within 14 days of last contact

OR

Travelers from overseas with onset of symptoms within 14 days of return

OR

Cruise ship passengers or crew with onset of symptoms within 14 days of disembarkation

OR

Paid or unpaid workers in healthcare, residential care, and disability care settings

OR

People who have worked in public facing roles in the following settings within the last 14 days:

  • Homelessness support
  • Child protection
  • The police force
  • Firefighters who undertake emergency medical response
  • Childcare and early childhood education
  • Primary or secondary schools

OR

Any person aged 65 years or older

OR

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples

OR

Patients admitted to hospital where no other cause is identified

OR

Any person in other high-risk settings, including:

  • Aged care, disability and other residential care facilities
  • Military operational settings
  • Boarding schools
  • Correctional facilities
  • Detention centres
  • Settings where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, in consultation with the department.

The following patients should also be tested:

Patients admitted to hospital with acute respiratory tract infection AND fever (≥38°C) without another immediately apparent cause such as urinary tract infection or cellulitis.

  • Clinical judgement should be exercised in testing hospitalised patients.
  • All patients being tested for COVID-19 should home isolate until test results are available. All patients should attend an emergency department if clinical deterioration occurs.
  • Notify the department of confirmed cases as soon as practicable by calling 1300 651 160, 24 hours a day.

Only confirmed cases should be notified to the department.

Confirmed case

A person who tests positive to a validated SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test or has the virus identified by electron microscopy or viral culture.

More detailed definitions of close contact are available in the Guidelines for health services and general practitioners available on the DHHS website.

Screening clinics

Updated 5:20pm, 26 March 2020

The Victorian Government currently has 30 screening clinics listed on their website. The Melbourne ones are as follows (please note you do not need to call ahead; phone numbers are for reference only):

Melbourne

If your practice cannot follow the clinical guidelines for testing patients for COVID-19 due to lack of appropriate PPE or isolation facilities, you can now advise the patient to seek treatment at any of these clinics after screening the patient to ensure they meet the DHHS suspected case definition.

Please see the advice on who can be tested in Key messages above.

General practice pop-up screening clinics

NWMPHN is supporting general practices in our region who are interested in becoming one of 100 pop-up clinics nationwide to test and treat people with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms.

We are now in contact with all practices who have expressed interest. More information on these clinics will be available soon.

 

Request masks here and information on personal protective equipment (PPE)

Last updated: 4:00pm, 3 April 2020

Hand sanitiser

Primary health care services can now request a bulk supply of hand sanitiser through the organising committee from the Facebook Practice Managers Network using this form which provides further information. Please note the following:

  • Supply is now no longer restricted to one unit of 5L or 20L hand sanitiser.
  • If you have already purchased hand sanitiser using the above form, your details are being uploaded to the supplier, WaterTest Systems, and you can use the following process for re-orders:
    1. Set your password
    2. Once you are logged in to the site, click here to order 5L or click here to order 20L
    3. Only authorised accounts will be able to access the above links. To get your colleagues authorised, direct them to use the form.
  • This is an independent service not operated by or associated with North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network.

Masks

We are continuing to distribute surgical masks from the Commonwealth Government’s second tranche to eligible general practicesAboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and community pharmacies in the areas of highest risk. We currently also have a limited supply of P2 masks in stock.

Please note:

  • P2 respirators are not required for testing suspected cases (only for those with severe pneumonia).
  • General practices require full personal protective equipment, including gown, gloves and eye protection in additions to masks, in order to conduct COVID-19 testing. NWMPHN has not received any supplies of PPE besides masks.
  • If general practices do not have adequate PPE, they should refer cases to appropriate screening clinics after screening the patient to ensure they meet the DHHS suspected case definition.

General practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

If your practice believes it is in a high risk area and is assessing a large number of patients for COVID-19 symptoms and requires more masks, please fill out this online form.

Community pharmacies

If your pharmacy believes it is in a high risk area and is assessing a large number of patients for COVID-19 symptoms and requires more masks, please fill out this online form.

Residential aged care providers

Residential aged care providers can request PPE by sending an email to the Commonwealth Department of Health: agedcareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au

The Department will assess requests and may be in contact if additional information is required. Providers will be advised if their request has been successful. If so, state and territory governments will distribute the agreed PPE to the provider.

Priority will be given to aged care providers where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Other primary health care organisations

The Commonwealth Department of Health has advised that no other groups are currently being supplied with masks. The Department of Health is working to ensure supply of masks and other PPE. The Department's website will be updated as more stocks of PPE are secured. Please continue to check the website regularly for updates.

Everyone seeking access to masks and other PPE from the National Medical Stockpile should continue attempts to purchase through commercial means.

Important notes on requests for masks

The above forms are not order forms and they do not guarantee you will receive more masks.

There is an international shortage of both surgical and P2/N95 masks; NWMPHN has a limited supply. We are closely monitoring the situation and can only distribute masks to areas of highest risk. Practices and pharmacies should submit one form only and wait for a response.

Please note these masks are not intended for sale.

Please refer to the Victorian DHHS website for guidelines for the use of masks.

Guidance from the Federal Department of Health on the supply of masks from the National Medical Stockpile through Primary Health Networks

  Tranche 1 (8 March 2020)

  Tranche 2 (17 March 2020)

Hotlines

For general practice and primary health care services 

From midday on Friday 20 March, medical practitioners seeking advice about COVID-19 (outside of testing and notification procedures) can call the DHHS Communicable Diseases Section on 1300 651 160 and choose the ‘Specialist Medical Advice’ option. Pending demand, you may be asked to leave a message for return phone call.

Please note: notification of suspected cases is no longer required.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 and how North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network can support you, please phone 03 9347 1188 or email: primarycare@nwmphn.org.au

  Who to call – for practice staff (A4 poster)

For the Victorian public

If you suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), please call either the:

  • Dedicated DHHS hotline on 1800 675 398
  • National hotline on 1800 020 080

Both lines will connect you to a registered nurse if needed.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

If you do not have symptoms but need general information on COVID-19, please visit healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (24 hours).

  Who to call – for the public (A4 poster)

Stay informed

This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please make sure your general practice or health service does each of the following:

Stay informed: Victorian Department of Health and Human Services
  1. Subscribe to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Alerts at health.vic.gov.au/newsletters
  2. Subscribe to the DHHS COVID-19 stakeholder newsletter and read daily updates from the Chief Health Officer
  3. 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
    • Guidelines for health services and general practitioners
    • Case definition and testing criteria
  4. Follow DHHS and the Chief Health Officer on Twitter
Stay informed: Commonwealth Department of Health

Visit the Department of Health website for information about how the Australian Government is monitoring and responding to the outbreak.

Official Australian COVID-19 app

The Australian Government has released an official app with the information you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Download the “Coronavirus Australia” government app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Official Australian COVID-19 WhatsApp channel

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.

WhatsApp is available from the Apple Store or Google Play.

Stay informed: North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is providing localised support for general practices and pharmacies in our region. To stay informed with our updates:

  1. Subscribe to receive our COVID-19 email updates for general practices and pharmacies
  2. Follow NWMPHN on Twitter

We are also providing advice to all our commissioned service providers during the pandemic. Subscribe to receive these updates.

Advice for practices and pharmacies

Financial assistance for primary care

Primary Care Package: Practice Incentive Payments

The Commonwealth Government has announced temporary increases to incentive payments for general practices. This will increase support for bulk billed services and ensure patients keep access to essential face-to-face care.

GP practices that open for face-to-face services for a minimum of four hours a day (or for part time practices for an average of 50% of their normal practice opening hours) will have their next two Practice Incentive Program Quality Improvement (PIPQI) payments doubled. These payments will be made on 1 May 2020 and 1 August 2020.

Currently all services provided using the new temporary MBS telehealth items must be bulk billed. Bulk billing incentives have been doubled to GPs for telehealth services provided to concessional patients and those under the age of 16. They have also been doubled for face-to-face services to these patients where the GP chooses to bulk bill (increasing from $6.40 to $12.80 per service in major cities, and from $9.65 to $19.30 per service everywhere else).

All patients will benefit from GPs services being supported to remain open and provide care that cannot be provided by telehealth.

Visit the Department of Health website for more information.

Other resources

MBS: Whole of population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services

The new COVID-19 Telehealth MBS items can now be claimed.

On 29 March 2020, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced whole of population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services to support the response to COVID-19.

  • From 30 March 2020, telehealth (video-conference) and phone consultation items are available to all Australians. This is stage 4 of the COVID-19 response.
  • The schedule fees for the bulk billing incentive items have been increased, to encourage medical practitioners to provide bulk-billed services to vulnerable patient groups. Bulk-billing incentives items are available for medical services (items 10990, 10991 and 10992), diagnostic imaging services (items 64990 and 64991) and pathology services (74990 and 74991) for patients who are either under 16 years old, or who are a Commonwealth concessional beneficiary.

  View fact sheets for the new MBS items

Visit MBS Online for all the items and the latest information.

DHHS requirements for pathology slips

Remember to include a mobile contact phone number for the patient on all COVID-19 pathology request forms.

If the test request is for high-risk patients, health care workers, aged or residential care workers or disability workers, make this clear on the slip and their results will be prioritised where resources allow.

Specimens taken from health care workers should be marked "HCW" or "URGENT – Health Care Worker".

Use one swab per patient for COVID-19 testing

There is currently a limited supply of swabs and reagent test kits for COVID-19 testing.

It is critical that clinicians limit testing to patients who meet the testing criteria

When taking specimens:

  • Use only one swab for both nostrils and throat for each patient (i.e. a total of one swab per patient).
  • Please avoid doubling up and sending swabs to both private laboratories and the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) concurrently – testing is only required to be sent to your usual laboratory.
  • Please write clearly on the specimen request if the patient is a health care worker – mark the specimen request: Urgent – Health Care Worker
Suspension of general practice accreditation

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare (ACSQA) has announced the immediate suspension of general practice accreditation activities.

The accreditation status of general practices will be maintained during the response phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, a general practice that would normally have one year before its scheduled assessment, will have one year before its next assessment from the time these measures are ceased.

These arrangements will be monitored with changes anticipated in the recovery phase of the pandemic. More information is available on the ACSQA website.

Advice regarding medicine shortages

15 March 2020

NWMPHN is aware that there are concerns regarding patients stockpiling their medicines and this has resulted in some temporary local level out-of-stock situations. These local out-of-stock situations are anticipated to resolve in the next week or two and are not due to a national medicine shortage.

We urge health professionals to reassure patients that there is no need to buy more medicines than they would normally get each month. Health professionals should also avoid prescribing or dispensing multiple months of supply of prescription medicines to patients where there is no clinical need to do so.

Home medicines services

The COVID-19 National Health Plan includes the Home Medicines Service. This service will enable vulnerable people and people in self-isolation to order their PBS and RPBS prescriptions remotely and have their medicines home delivered to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19.

While the details are still being confirmed, the most current information about this program is available here.

Other recent updates

Chief Health Officer update 3 April 2020

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer released a COVID-19 alert at 10:33pm on Friday, 3 April 2020.

 Read the latest update
 Subscribe to receive CHO alerts

Key information

Updated advice for clinicians

  • Deaths that are due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection are notifiable to DHHS 24 hours a day by phone on 1300 651 160. At this early stage of the Victorian epidemic, timely notification is a key action to help guide the public health response.
  • DHHS is in regular contact with all confirmed cases and will determine when they are no longer infectious for release from isolation. Hospital discharge of confirmed COVID-19 cases can be determined on clinical grounds without prior approval by DHHS. Patients are not required to stay in hospital for the duration of their infectious period.
  • Doctors, nurses, midwives and mental health professionals can deliver temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule and Department of Veterans’ Affairs items via telehealth, provided those services are bulk billed.
  • Doctors are encouraged to remind all patients that they should stay at home unless going to medical appointments or performing essential tasks.
  • If testing health care workers, doctors are reminded to clearly mark pathology slips with ‘HCW’ to ensure the swabs can be easily identified for priority testing.
  • Doctors are reminded to ensure they include a mobile contact number on pathology slips for patients who have been tested.
  • Physical (social) distancing measures should be consistently applied, if at all possible, including in clinical settings. The rule of 1 person for every 4 square metres must be maintained to ensure a safe physical distance.

Developments in the outbreak

  • As of 3 April 2020, Victoria has 1,085 total confirmed cases, 37 people are in hospitals including seven people in intensive care. Seven people have died. 59% of cases are directly linked to overseas travel, and 62 were locally acquired (in Victoria) with no known link to overseas travel or another confirmed case. In total, 476 people have recovered.
  • Of the total 1,085 cases, there have been 866 in metropolitan Melbourne and 205 in regional Victoria. A number of cases remain under investigation.
  • This week, Australia’s total exceeded 5,000 cases. That is expected to increase significantly in coming weeks unless people stay at home.
  • Up-to-date epidemiological data is available on the DHHS website.
Current public health response status

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews declared a State of Emergency in Victoria on Monday, 16 March 2020.

On 22 March 2020, Mr Andrews announced that Victoria will proceed over the next 48 hours to implement a shutdown of all non-essential activity across our state.

The Australian Government declared a human biosecurity emergency on Wednesday, 18 March 2020.

On 30 March 2020, Mr Andrews announced stage 3 restrictions for Victoria:

  • These Stage 3 restrictions came into effect from 11:59pm on Monday, 30 March 2020.
  • They will be in place for four weeks and reviewed as required.
  • The Stage 3 restrictions mean that previous advice about staying home will become enforceable.
  • Playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gyms will also close.
  • Visit the Victorian Government website for more information.
World Health Organisation declares COVID-19 pandemic

12 March 2020

COVID-19 has officially been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside of China had increased 13-fold in the past two weeks, but added "all countries can change the course of this pandemic".

Primary health care organisations should stay tuned to the latest updates on this page and the DHHS website to fight the spread of the disease.

COVID-19 Pandemic Plan for the Victorian Health Sector

Updated 1 April 2020

The Victorian Government released its COVID-19 Pandemic plan for the Victorian Health sector on Tuesday, 10 March 2020. The full plan is available on the health.vic website.

  • Your nominated COVID-19 contact person should read the plan.
  • We are currently at Stage 2 “Targeted Action” of the plan

Note: The Victorian plan is intended as an overarching guidance document to inform more detailed planning at individual practice and institutional level. All health services should now develop or review local plans for pandemic preparedness, response and recovery.

  • The RACGP Pandemic response plan can help your practice prepare. Please note that this plan is for pandemic influenza, but the same principles apply for COVID-19.
Communications to primary care providers in our region (archive)

Clinical resources

DHHS clinical guidelines and quick reference guide

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
  • Guidelines for health services and general practitioners
  • Case definition and testing criteria

The guidelines and quick reference guide were last updated on 1 April 2020 (version 16).

HealthPathways Melbourne

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

These pathways are continuously being updated to reflect current guidelines.

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

Guidelines for use of masks and personal protective equipment

Please refer to the latest version of the Healthcare worker PPE guidance document available on the DHHS website (under the Guidelines for health services and general practitioners).

Resources

Guidance from the Federal Department of Health on the supply of masks from the National Medical Stockpile through Primary Health Networks

  Tranche 1 (8 March 2020)

  Tranche 2 (17 March 2020)

Cleaning and disinfection guide

Please refer to the Commonwealth Department of Health's Environmental cleaning and disinfection principles for COVID-19 fact sheet.

Preventing and managing influenza resources
COVID-19 and your asthma patients

Advice for health professionals and your asthma patients is available on the National Asthma Council website.

COVID-19 CAT4 recipes for high-risk patients

Pen CS has compiled CAT4 recipes for identifying COVID-19 high-risk patients.

Please note that due to the high risk of spreading COVID-19, it would be impractical to recall patients at risk. The following recipes are designed to give medical professionals an idea of ​​how many high-risk patients in the various categories are included in your current patient demography.

COVID-19 'high-risk' patient lists are relevant for:

  • resource and workforce planning
  • population health
  • sharing COVID-19 patient information via SMS text/voicemail (Recall CAT)
  • informing Doctor/Practice Staff with advice and guidance

CAT4 COVID-19 recipes for general practice:

Telehealth

New COVID-19 Telehealth MBS items

The new COVID-19 Telehealth MBS items can now be claimed.

On 29 March 2020, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced whole of population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services to support the response to COVID-19.

  • From 30 March 2020, telehealth (video-conference) and phone consultation items are available to all Australians. This is stage 4 of the COVID-19 response.
  • The schedule fees for the bulk billing incentive items have been increased, to encourage medical practitioners to provide bulk-billed services to vulnerable patient groups. Bulk-billing incentives items are available for medical services (items 10990, 10991 and 10992), diagnostic imaging services (items 64990 and 64991) and pathology services (74990 and 74991) for patients who are either under 16 years old, or who are a Commonwealth concessional beneficiary.

  View fact sheets for the new MBS items

Visit MBS Online for all the items and the latest information.

Telehealth resources for general practice

The RACGP Telehealth video consultations guide focuses on telehealth video consultations covered under the MBS where a general practitioner (GP), practice nurse or Aboriginal health worker is physically present with the patient to provide patient-end services during a consultation with a specialist at another location.

The RACGP has also published a helpful guide to the new MBS telehealth items.

NWMPHN webinar: Telehealth within your practice

6:00pm – 7:30pm
Thursday, 9 April 2020

Join this webinar to have all your questions about telehealth answered. We will discuss how to implement telehealth in your practice, how to navigate risks and barriers, coordination of workflows and present case studies from our region.

Register for the webinar

Posters for your practice

Thanks to The Clinic 279 for these posters.

Advice for NWMPHN commissioned services

Notification of confirmed cases

All providers must immediately report all known diagnoses of COVID-19 of a staff member or client within the commissioned program/service to NWMPHN. Full information on COVID-19 reporting requirements is available here.

Inform your community

Updating opening hours and contact information

It is critical that you update your websites, social media channels and phone answering service to reflect the current availability or otherwise of your services.

Updating HealthDirect

Visit about.healthdirect.gov.au/contact-the-nhsd to create or update your listing on the government’s healthdirect app.

Updating HealthPathways Melbourne 

Send changed service delivery information to HealthPathways Melbourne by emailing info@healthpathwaysmelbourne.org.au for the information to be displayed on the COVID-19 Impact on Local Services page.

Infection control

This Commonwealth Department of Health training module coves the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19: health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covid-19-infection-control-training

Telehealth

Telehealth extension for Medicare-subsidised services

Telehealth (video conference) and phone consultation for Medicare subsidised services are now available to all Australians. This is stage four of the COVID-19 response.

  • Visit MBS Online for all the item numbers and the latest information. Fact sheets for GPs, nurses and other health professionals are available here. 

Telehealth readiness survey

We have developed a short survey to help identify what support we need to provide to help our providers use telehealth as part of their practice. Please access and complete the survey here.

NWMPHN webinar: Telehealth within your practice

6:00pm – 7:30pm
Thursday, 9 April 2020

This webinar focuses on telehealth in general practice but people working other health care settings are welcome to attend. We will discuss how to implement telehealth in general practice, how to navigate risks and barriers, coordination of workflows and present case studies from our region.

Register for the webinar

Resources

DHHS COVID-19 factsheets

Please refer to the Patient resources section below for more resources for specific audiences.

Communications to commissioned service providers in our region (archive)

Patient resources

covid-symptoms-promo-banner2-742e28

Official Australian COVID-19 app and WhatsApp channel

Official app

The Australian Government has released an official app with the information you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19).

Download the “Coronavirus Australia” government app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Official WhatsApp channel

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.

WhatsApp is available from the Apple Store or Google Play.

Self-assessment for risk of COVID-19
Public hotlines

If you suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), please call either the:

  • Dedicated DHHS hotline on 1800 675 398
  • National hotline on 1800 020 080

Both lines will connect you to a registered nurse if needed.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

If you do not have symptoms but need general information on COVID-19, please visit healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus or call the national hotline number listed above.

Fact sheets and posters

General

Specific posters for general practices

Thanks to The Clinic 279 for these posters.

Who to call posters

The below posters and infographic will help patients and staff in your practice quickly work out which number is best to call.

More posters, factsheets and other resources for communicating with patients are being regularly added to the following websites:

Resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Translated resources for CALD communities

Posters and public service announcements in many languages other than English are being added to the Victorian DHHS and Commonwealth Department of Health websites regularly.

The Health Translations Directory is also being regularly updated with resources in languages other than English.

SBS has launched a multilingual coronavirus online portal, This dedicated online information hub, produced by SBS Radio and SBS News, is for multicultural communities to easily access accurate and trusted news and information about COVID-19. The portal includes the latest news and resources across more than 60 languages. You can access the SBS multilingual coronavirus portal at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

Resources for LGBTIQ communities

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has developed a useful resource that answers some questions and shares tips and referrals for LGBTIQ and HIV communities.

Rainbow Health Victoria has published a tip sheet to help LGBTIQ clients in the health and human services sector feel welcome and supported when offered services remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Relief packages for vulnerable Victorians needing to self-quarantine

Emergency relief packages are available for vulnerable Victorians needing to self-quarantine due to COVID-19.

If you are in urgent need and don’t have a support network who can help you, call the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.

DHHS hotline staff are working as fast as they can. Thank you in advance for your patience.

Each eligible household will receive a two-week supply of essential goods. Food packages will include items such as long-life milk, pasta, cereal, canned vegetables and sugar. Personal care packages will also be distributed to eligible households and include soap, toothpaste and deodorant. Additional items may also be provided depending on the needs of the household, such as nappies or baby formula.

Visit dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus for more information about the packages.

Education and training

COVID-19 infection control online training (Department of Health)

Primary care providers can now access online COVID-19 infection control training at covid-19training.com.au

Practice managers meetings

Our upcoming practice managers meetings will be webinar only and provide a chance for practice managers to learn about how to best prepare and manage your practice's approach to COVID-19.

Register now:

NWMPHN webinar: Telehealth within your practice

6:00pm – 7:30pm
Thursday, 9 April 2020

Join this webinar to have all your questions about telehealth answered. We will discuss how to implement telehealth in your practice, how to navigate risks and barriers, coordination of workflows and present case studies from our region.

Register for the webinar

HotDoc webinar: Employment impact in private practice

Special Guest Series: Employment impact in private practice during COVID-19 with Q&A

Wednesday, 8 April 2020
12:30pm – 1:30pm
 Register

This free webinar for private practice will be hosted by George Sotiris from Health Industry Employment Services and cover:

  • How the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the health care workforce
  • Ways to effectively restructure practice staff to minimise redundancies
  • What the JobKeeper employee payment means for your practice and staff
  • Q&A moderated by Magali De Castro, Clinical Director at HotDoc
Other webinars and online training

Our COVID-19: Practical measures for general practice session (held on 13 February 2020) is available to watch online.

The World Health Organisation's online course provides a general introduction to COVID-19 and emerging respiratory viruses and is intended for public health professionals, incident managers and personnel working for the United Nations, international organizations and NGOs.

All education sessions will be webinar only

To limit the spread of COVID-19 we will not be holding face-to-face education or training sessions from 17 March 2020 until further notice. All sessions will be webinar only (if possible).

Please keep updated with our newsletter and emails should the situation change.

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