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

Page last updated: 9:30pm, 16 July 2020

Urgent updates

Chief Health Officer update 16 July 2020

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer released a COVID-19 Daily Update at 8:12pm on Thursday, 16 July 2020.

 Read the full update
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Key messages

What's new?

  • As of 16 July 2020, the total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Victoria is 4,750 with 317 new cases since yesterday’s report.
  • The overall total has increased by 302, with 15 cases reclassified, largely due to duplication. Of the new cases, 28 are linked to outbreaks and 289 are under investigation. No new cases have been detected in a returned traveller in hotel quarantine.
  • 902 cases may indicate community transmission.
  • 109 people are in hospital, including 29 patients in intensive care. There have been two deaths reported since yesterday. To date, 29 people have died.
  • There are 2,128 cases currently active in Victoria. 2,591 people have recovered.
  • Of the total cases, 4,310 are from metropolitan Melbourne and 311 are from regional Victoria.
  • More than 1,226,000 test results have been received by the department since 1 January 2020.
  • Further details can be found in today’s coronavirus (COVID-19) media release.
  • An update to the Case and Contact Management Guidelines (Word) (v23 10 July 2020) has been made and relates to the assessment of close contact in healthcare workers who wear masks.
  • Up-to-date epidemiological data is available on the DHHS website.

Stay at Home Directions

  • Stay at home directions will remain in place for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire until 11.59pm Wednesday 19 August.
  • People who live in these areas are only allowed to go out for four reasons: shopping for food and supplies, health care and caregiving, outdoor exercise, and study or work – if unable to work or study from home.

Key messages to the community

  • If you feel unwell with any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should stay home and get tested. If you have any fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste – stay home, don’t go in to work and don’t visit friends and family. Get tested and stay at home until you get the result. Go to the DHHS testing map for locations.
  • If you live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire and are aged 18 years or older, it is recommended that you wear a face mask when you leave home if it is going to be difficult for you to maintain 1.5 metres of distance between yourself and other people. Face masks are not a substitute for physical distancing.
  • The Victorian Government launched a new digital mental health platform for young people called MOST – Moderated Online Social Therapy – an online tool which allows young people to access tailored online therapy and peer support. It is now available for clients of Orygen in the north and west of Melbourne – a state wide roll out will continue progressively throughout the year.
  • Smiling Mind will also produce resources for senior secondary students to support their mental health and wellbeing. Secondary school students can access counselling via a voice call or video conference through the headspace counselling partnership or via their school-based mental health practitioner.
  • This is an anxious and uncertain time for everyone and support is vital and available. For more information about managing stress and support options, call the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Services on 1800 512 348 or visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au

Read the full update: Coronavirus COVID-19 daily update

Current key messages

  • Anyone who has symptoms, however mild, of coronavirus is encouraged to get tested. The symptoms to watch out for are fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or loss of sense of smell. 
  • Residents living in Victoria’s 10 restricted postcodes are urged to get tested for coronavirus, even if they don’t display symptoms.
  • A suburban testing blitz is now underway to track and trace cases in several suburbs including Keilor Downs, Broadmeadows, Albanvale, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Hallam, Maidstone, Pakenham, Reservoir, and Sunshine West. All residents of these suburbs are also eligible for free testing, with or without symptoms, during the period of the testing blitz. 
  • 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.
  • Everyone in Victoria must stay safe by maintaining good hygiene, keeping your distance from others and if you feel unwell stay home. Visit the DHHS website for more information on restrictions levels.

Outbreak management and high priority COVID-19 tests

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

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 symptomatic residents or staff of a known outbreak at a residential aged care facility. 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 including

  • Aged Care workers
  • Symptomatic aged care 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

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 communique (.pdf) for the definition of “outbreak” and “close contact” in 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:

Mark the samples as URGENT PRIORITY and indicate whether P1, P2 or P3 as outlined in the guidance. This ensures that the sample is correctly triaged and couriered to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory if outbreak-related or treated as an URGENT sample for in-house at the local testing laboratory if marked as P2 or P3.

Current case definition and 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 (for example: cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, anosmia or loss of smell or loss of taste)

NOTE: In addition, testing is recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19**AND

- who are close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19;
- who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; or
- who are health care or aged care workers.

*Clinical discretion applies including consideration of the potential for co-infection (for example: concurrent infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza)

**headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.

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

The Case and contact management guidelines were last updated on 20 June 2020 (version 22).

HealthPathways Melbourne

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

Health professionals can access the following COVID-19 pathways available 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 drug use and risk of family violence during the pandemic. There are many mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and family violence pathways that are being regularly updated to reflect service options for your patients.

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

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