Health Alert – COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus)

28 February: Prime Minister announcement

The Prime Minister has announced Australia is activating an emergency plan to deal with the outbreak of the coronavirus. The scope of the emergency response will be escalated according to the spread of the disease. Link to the Emergency Response Plan.

27 February: Updates on COVID-19

  • Western Victoria PHN HealthPathways NEW page on the COVID-19: HERE
  • Latest advice from the Department of Health (Australia)
  • Latest advice from DHHS (Victoria)
  • Information on international travel restrictions: HERE
  • The Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria) has established a telephone hotline for doctors who are reporting a potential case of COVID-19: 1300 651 160.

REMINDER: In recognition that some GPs may wish to collect COVID-19 specimens in their surgery, the Commonwealth Department of Health will be distributing more P2 masks via Primary Health Networks to enable GPs to access the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for this purpose.  These P2 masks are only for distribution to GPs who have indicated they are undertaking the specimen collection process in their surgeries.  Contact for masks remains the same –  Ballarat Goldfields call: 03 5331 6303Geelong Otway call: 03 5222 0800Wimmera Grampians call: 03 5222 0800Great South Coast call 03 5564 5888.  Masks can then be either collected from WVPHN or they will be delivered to your practice.

25 February: Latest from Victorian Chief Health Officer

KEY MESSAGES:

  • Be alert for cases, take a travel history and advise persons under investigation and suspected cases to isolate until you provide the result to your patient.
  • People who have been in mainland China (excluding Macau and Taiwan) in the past 14 days are advised to self-isolate until 14 days after leaving China.
  • There is no requirement for people from the other countries recommended for testing to self-isolate if they are well.
  • Anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should also stay at home and avoid public settings until 14 days after their last contact.
  • There are now 7 confirmed cases in Victoria, including the three Diamond Princess passengers.
  • The list of countries that it is recommended that clinicians consider when testing people with a clinically compatible illness who have travelled has been expanded to include South Korea and Iran. Other countries are Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.
  • Cases meeting the suspected case definition must be tested and notified to the department as soon as practicable by calling 1300 651 160, 24 hours a day.
  • Cases meeting the ‘Person under Investigation’ case definition are now recommended for testing. Notification to the department is not necessary for these patients.
  • Clinicians may choose to test any patient, particularly returned travellers with acute respiratory infection if it is felt to be clinically necessary. Notification to the department is not necessary for these patients.
  • Stay informed of updates

25 February: Minister announcement

Health Minister Greg Hunt has urged Australians to exercise a “high degree of caution” if planning to travel to Japan or South Korea, in the wake of increasing cases of coronavirus in the region.
Currently the number of cases of COVID-19 rises to more than 700 in Japan and more than 600 in South Korea, with at least six deaths.
Minister Hunt announced the Level 2 travel advisories for the two countries on Monday, as 47 cases of the virus among Australians were confirmed among passengers on the cruise ship the Diamond Princess, quarantined in Yokohama.

21 February: Links for updates on COVID-19

LATEST UPDATE: In recognition that some GPs may wish to collect COVID-19 specimens in their surgery, the Commonwealth Department of Health will be distributing more P2 masks via Primary Health Networks to enable GPs to access the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment for this purpose.  These P2 masks are only for distribution to GPs who have indicated they are undertaking the specimen collection process in their surgeries.  Contact for masks remains the same –  Ballarat Goldfields call: 03 5331 6303Geelong Otway call: 03 5222 0800Wimmera Grampians call: 03 5222 0800Great South Coast call 03 5564 5888.  Masks can then be either collected from WVPHN or they will be delivered to your practice.

18 February: HealthPathways and COVID-19

The Western Victoria Health Pathway on the COVID-19 was the first clinical Health Pathway to be developed worldwide on the topic and has now been adopted across the state of Victoria. It provides a continually updated, single reference point with collated links to all information and resources from key bodies and interprets the guidelines in a way that is clear and relevant for the primary care setting.
HealthPathways is a web-based information portal for health professionals in primary care and contains over 700 clinical, referral and resource pathways.
Access is available to all health professionals. Contact healthpathways@westvicphn.com.au for access or further information.

14 February: Masks available for pharmacies

All PHNs are now distributing surgical masks to community Pharmacists.  Extra supplies of surgical masks to PHNs are being targeted for distribution and use by General Practitioners (GPs) and health workers as ‘first responders’ and community Pharmacists who are exposed to at risk customers . GPs and Pharmacists in western Victoria need to lodge their requests with Western Victoria PHN (WVPHN). These masks can then be either picked up or WVPHN will organize delivery.

For pharmacies in Ballarat Goldfields call: 03 5331 6303; for pharmacies in Geelong Otway call: 03 5222 0800; for pharmacies in Wimmera Grampians call: 03 5222 0800; for pharmacies in Great South Coast call 03 5564 5888.

13 February: Updated information

Information for health care providers and the general public

This link contains the following information and updates

  • Should I wear a mask? How do I get a mask?
  • Suspected and confirmed cases
  • Information for health care workers
  • Pathology specimen collectors
  • How can I help prevent the spread of COVID19
  • More information

10 February: Factsheets and other resources

The Australian Government Department of Health has updated advice for health workers regarding the novel coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China (2019-nCoV).

There are a number of factsheets for health care workers including use of Personal Protective Equipment during clinical care of people with suspected or confirmed 2019-nCoV infection.  There is also information aimed at patients plus additional resources such as posters. HERE

Please note that as this is an evolving situation, these documents may be updated in the coming days and weeks.

7 February: Department of Health and Human Services update

The Department of Health and Human Services has produced a checklist of key actions practices can take now to safely assess a patient who may have novel coronavirus infection. A suggested checklist is available in a quick guide and in a more detailed guideline on the Department’s novel coronavirus website at HERE  Also available are posters for the waiting room and factsheets for patients in English and Chinese.
The international outbreak is evolving rapidly and the Department is working closely with the Victorian health sector, Commonwealth and international agencies to respond to the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) associated with mainland China.
Any urgent feedback from general practitioners and primary care providers is welcomed and should be sent to infectious.diseases@dhhs.vic.gov.au

For continuing updates go to:
Twitter @VicGovDHHS
Twitter @VictorianCHO
facebook.com/VicGovDHHS/

Better Health Channel:
Twitter @BetterHealthGov
facebook.com/BetterHealthGov

Further information
As further information becomes available, it will be shared on our channels and our DHHS incident page at 2019-nCoV incident page
This site includes printable factsheets, posters and translated material.
Access the latest Chief Health Officer Alert for more information or subscribe to CHO Alerts

Invitation to webinar for GPs and practice staff

The Department of Health and Human Services has scheduled two education events on the Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – practical measures for general practice staff for next week on 13 February, one of which is via webinar.  GPs and practice staff are invited to attend. Here is the link for registration – Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) – practical measures for general practice staff – Webinar

5 February: Instructional videos

The team at Banksia Medical Centre in Newcomb Geelong, has produced a few videos for other GPs to actually visualise the flow of events needed if a patient presents with flu-like, respiratory symptoms and a suspected coronavirus infection (travel history, contact with someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus). Thanks Banksia.

Workflow on how to manage patient showing up at the clinic and PPE: HERE

How to properly sanitize with alcohol hand gel: HERE

How to put on and remove a surgical mask: HERE

4 February: Instructions for GPs

The Department of Health and Human Services is asking health professionals across the sector to watch out for signs and symptoms of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection in patients who may have travelled to areas affected by an emerging outbreak. More information.

Further up-to-date information on WVPHN HealthPathways on the new Novel Coronavirus page

Call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for questions regarding prevention and the spread of coronavirus.

3 February: Now available P2/N95 and surgical masks

GPs and health care workers are advised Western Victoria PHN now has P2/N95 masks available for distribution.

  • GP practices can contact Western Victoria PHN offices to request surgical and/or P2/N95 masks for their practice.  For practices in Ballarat Goldfields call: 03 5331 6303; for practices in Geelong Otway call: 03 5222 0800; for practices in Wimmera Grampians call: 03 5222 0800; for practices in Great South Coast call 03 5564 5888.  Masks will then be delivered to your practice.

Masks to be distributed

  • Masks are now being sorted for delivery to our offices in Geelong, Ballarat, Horsham and Warrnambool.
  • Distribution is by identified need. The department has defined ‘identified need’ as practices within communities with high Chinese populations and with individuals who have recently travelled to China or had visitors from China (travel history); patients who have been in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of the coronavirus and practices that have patients presenting with flu-like symptoms.
  • The Commonwealth has advised the distribution of masks is to:
    – GP and practices (for clinicians and symptomatic patients – when they present to the practice)
    – Health workers
    – NB: Not for pharmacists, specialist clinic staff, etc

GP advice


HEALTH ALERT
UPDATE (30 January):

From: Chief Health Officer
Date issued: 29 January 2020
Issued by: Dr Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer
Issued to: Clinicians and patients

Key messages

A novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak has been identified, focused on Hubei Province in mainland China. Please see the departmental website for regular updates: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/novelcoronavirus

The department is now advising all people who have visited Hubei province in mainland China to stay at home and avoid public settings until 14 days after leaving Hubei Province. Anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of 2019-nCoV should also stay at home and avoid public settings until 14 days after their last contact.

The department was has now confirmed two cases of novel coronavirus in Victoria, including one man in his 50s notified on 25 January and a second case in a man in his 60s confirmed on 28 January.

The second confirmed case attended a restaurant dinner at the House of Delight restaurant in Glen Waverley between 1730 and 1900 on 26 January 2020. Anyone who was at the restaurant at that time should contact the department on 1300 651 160. There are no other locations of concern.

The department has updated guidelines to health services and general practitioners, with modifications to the case definition and exclusions recommendations. These are now available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/information-health-services-novel-coronavirus