Commonwealth Dept of Health National Incident Room: Information for primary, community and emergency health care workers regarding the Novel Coronavirus

Following 4 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus infection in Australia the Chief Medical Officer and Australian Government Department of Health have issued statements regarding the current situation. The communiques contain advice for health care clinicians – primary, community and emergency workers – recognising the signs and symptoms of a potential infection, and what to do regarding early detection, diagnosis and isolation.

Current situation:

  • Reported cases are now over 2000, but all modelling suggests that the total case numbers are likely to be much higher than that.
  • There have now been more than 40 exported cases outside of China, in Australia, France, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, the USA, Vietnam, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, Nepal and Macau. Nearly all of these cases have reported travel to Hubei Province.
  • Sustained human to human transmission (including to healthcare workers) has clearly been demonstrated in Hubei/Wuhan but not proven in locations outside China where cases have been reported.

The department have also advised that there is not enough information to determine the incubation period, the rate of infection or the animal source of the virus. However, there is evidence of human-to-human transmission, some hospital workers have been infected and medical professionals are advised to use personal protection when working with confirmed cases of Coronavirus.

GPS and medical practitioners should:

  • Consider novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection in patients with fever and respiratory symptoms who recently travelled to anywhere in China but in particular Wuhan, China.
  • Investigate and manage patients for respiratory illness using standard practices.
  • For patients with severe respiratory illness, in the emergency department consider early infectious diseases and intensive care review where appropriate.
  • Take personal precautions to protect themselves when assessing patients that meet the criteria.
  • Contact their state/territory public health unit or communicable disease branch for advice on suspected cases including diagnostic testing and specimen collection (for contact details visit www.health.gov.au.)

View the announcements:

Communique from the Chief Medical Officer 

Information sheets from The Australian Government Department of Health Novel Coronavirus Information Sheet for Primary Health and Community Health Workers 26 January 2020 (Version 2) & Novel Coronavirus Information Sheet for Emergency Departments 26 January 2020 (Version 2)