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COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Information

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Information

On this webpage you can find advice for GPs and community members on how to identify, manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please note that the situation in Australia with regards to novel coronavirus is changing continually and official local and national government sources will be able to provide the most up-to-date information.

Vaccine information for health professionals

National Vaccination Rollout Strategy

Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine National Rollout Strategy identifies:

  • priority populations for vaccination, and the phases in which vaccines will be provided in Australia
  • details for how vaccines will reach frontline healthcare workers, quarantine and border workers, and aged and disability care residents and workers
  • initial locations, across Australia, at which vaccines will be administered.
Information for immunisation providers: Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) following COVID-19 vaccination
  • The above fact sheet contains advice for vaccine providers of COVID-19 vaccines, regarding the link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare new adverse event called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

Update 17th June 2021:

ATAGI statement on revised recommendations on the use of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, 17 June 2021

ATAGI advises that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) is preferred over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca from the age of 16 to under 60 years. This is based on recent data regarding TTS cases in Australia and a reassessment of current age-specific risks and benefits of vaccination.

Please read the full article from the Department of Health here.

A statement from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in an outbreak setting (including a recommendation on a shortage dosage interval for COVID AstraZeneca vaccines in an outbreak situation).

Click here to read.

Product information and consumer medicine information

  • Australian product information for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (COMIRNATY™): click here
  • Consumer medicine information on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (COMIRNATY™): click here
  • Australian product information for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: click here
  • Consumer medicine information on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: click here

On 18 June 2021, the Australian Government introduced two new MBS items (10660 and 10661) to support general practitioners and other medical practitioners. The two new MBS items provide in-depth clinical assessments of patients. This is in regards to the patient’s individual health risks and benefits associated with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • MBS items 10660 and 10661 may only be claimed where a GP or OMP attends to a patient in person for more than 10 minutes.
  • The item must be billed in association with a relevant MBS COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment item.
  • Consistent with the other MBS vaccine suitability assessment items, items 10660 and 10661 must be bulk-billed.

Note: Effective 29 June 2021, age restrictions on the use of these items have been removed.

Further information on the in-depth patient assessment items is provided in the Item descriptors and Fact Sheet.

From 14 June 2021, the Australian Government introduced MBS item 90005 to provide a call-out or “flag-fall” fee for general practitioners (GPs) and OMPs who conduct a COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment service in a residential aged care facility (RACF), a residential disability facility setting or at a patient’s place of residence.

Read the full article and find further information here.

General information

Quality improvement

Guidance and onboarding advice

MBS items

Screening, consent, and equipment and procedures

  • Immunisation providers should screen people before vaccination, obtain valid consent, and ensure that the correct equipment and procedures are in place before vaccination: see “Preparing for Vaccination” information in the Australian Immunisation Handbook
  • Provider guide for obtaining informed consent (updated on 3 April 2021 to include information on a safety investigation into a rare clotting condition reported after COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca): click here
  • Patient eligibility declaration form: click here
  • Consent form for COVID-19 vaccination: click here
  • Patient guide on what to expect after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine

Adverse events

ATAGI advice on influenza and COVID-19 vaccines

AstraZeneca

The ability to apply to join the roll-out (with the AstraZeneca vaccine) is now open ongoing.

Please click here to apply.

 

Pfizer

If your practice is already vaccinating with AstraZeneca and would like to apply to administer the COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine, please click here.

Reporting vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register

It is now mandatory to report all National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

From 1 July 2021, under the AIR Act, it is mandatory to report all NIP, COVID-19 and influenza vaccines administered to the AIR.

Immunisation providers can submit vaccination encounters to the AIR using:

 

Managing anaphylaxis after vaccination

Click here to download the PDF on managing anaphylaxis after vaccination.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination process for GPs please visit:

The Department of Health is encouraging all primary care vaccination sites, including general practices and Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics, to make vaccination appointments within seven days of a booking request from residential aged care workers. Please see this factsheet for more details.

Residents who have not yet received a vaccine

The Department of Health is communicating the following advice to RACFs about residents who have not yet received a vaccine:

There may be instances where existing or new residents have not received a COVID-19 vaccination through the Commonwealth’s in-reach Pfizer vaccine clinics. This could be due to:

  • being unwell or absent for the first dose clinic
  • not giving consent to receive a vaccine at the first dose clinic
  • having moved into the facility after the first or second dose clinic.

This policy document from the Department of Health notes that residents requiring two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine can receive an AstraZeneca vaccine through a:

  • general practice
  • visiting GP
  • Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic (GP respiratory clinic)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service

We are receiving numerous enquiries from facilities and are advising them to discuss the option of their visiting GPs administering an Astra Zeneca Vaccine from the GP’s existing allocation as an initial step.

Additionally, SNHN is offering scholarships for nurses working in RACFs to undertake the nurse immuniser courses, to boost the local workforce longer term.

Please contact us on pcait@snhn.org.au if you have any questions regarding the administration of AZ vaccines to residents in RACFs.

 

COVID-19 vaccination – New resident entrance protocol flow chart

Primary care COVID-19 vaccination sites can now choose to transfer AstraZeneca vaccines from one participating vaccination site to another under certain circumstances.

Transfers are the responsibility of the sites to manage (maintaining cold-chain integrity, etc) and must be captured within the weekly Stock Management Report in CVAS (due 9pm Fridays). The Stock Management Report has been updated to allow this.

For full details on transfers, including how the vaccines should be transported, please read the Department of Health information sheet here.

To enquire about donating or receiving additional vaccines, please contact us at PCAIT@snhn.org.au.

To help community leaders and organisations who work with CALD groups to spread the message about vaccination, NSW Health has put together a toolkit that includes in-language resources. Resources include:

  • Glossary of COVID-19 vaccine terminology in-language
  • Social media posts in your language
  • Key messages that you can distribute in newspapers and newsletters
  • Videos of religious leaders
  • A PowerPoint  presentation for you to present to your community
  • The Australian Government COVID-19 multicultural outreach stakeholder pack

Download toolkit here.

Vaccine information for community members

Click on the image below or here to access the Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

What does it do?

  • Helps you check your eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccination
  • Lets you know where you can make a booking to receive your vaccination if you’re eligible

You can make an appointment at a local vaccine-providing GP, Mona Vale Hospital, Royal Northshore Hospital, Roseville Vaccination Clinic, or Ryde Vaccination Clinic in the Northern Sydney region, or you can make an appointment at another provider in a different region.

If you are eligible you can filter the results by proximity or earliest available appointment. If you are not yet eligible you can register your interest in receiving a vaccine and you will be notified when there is availability for you.

 

If you speak a language other than English and would like to check your eligibility and find a vaccination clinic, please follow the instructions below: 

  1. Click here, then select your preferred language.
  2. You will then see information in your language about how to call the National Translating and Interpreting Service, who may be able to find an interpreter for you. This interpreter will then interpret a call between you and the National Coronavirus Helpline, so that you can find out your eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccination and find a vaccination clinic.
  3. If your preferred language is not listed here, you can still call the National Translating and Interpreting Service (call 131 450), who may be able to find an interpreter for you. This interpreter will then interpret a call between you and the National Coronavirus Helpline, so that you can find out your eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccination and find a vaccination clinic.

'COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker

About COVID-19 vaccinations

Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program will commence with priority population groups. Find out more about the national roll-out strategy here.

 

Find information on COVID-19 vaccines for…
  • priority groups and when you will receive the COVID-19 vaccine: click here
  • pregnant and breastfeeding women: click here
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: click here
  • people with a disability: click here
  • people with chronic health conditions: click here
  • aged care residents and their families: click here
  • frail older people, incl. those in residential aged care facilities (information about COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination decisions): click here
Before vaccination
After vaccination

Update 17th June 2021:

ATAGI statement on revised recommendations on the use of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, 17 June 2021

ATAGI advises that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty) is preferred over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca from the age of 16 to under 60 years. This is based on recent data regarding TTS cases in Australia and a reassessment of current age-specific risks and benefits of vaccination.

Please read the full article from the Department of Health here.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration have created a COVID-19 vaccine information page for consumers and health professionals which answers common questions about how the TGA assesses and monitors a vaccine for safety, quality and effectiveness.

You can get an immunisation history statement to show proof of your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations. Click here to find out how.

Vaccine information for pharmacies

ATAGI Site Requirements for COVID-19 Vaccination in Community Pharmacies

The following site readiness requirements for COVID-19 vaccination in community pharmacies have been developed by the Australian Government in consultation with expert advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and standards outlined in the Australian Immunisation Handbook. Identified/participating community pharmacies must confirm compliance with the minimum requirements outlined in the below requirements prior to delivery of vaccine doses. Find requirements here: https://www.guild.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/102924/atagi-site-requirements.pdf

Online Training Resources

Additional Resources
How to order vaccines online
Receiving vaccine delivery
National Vaccine Storage Guidelines: Strive for 5
Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Management Policy
NSW Health Vaccine Refrigerator Protocol for Public Facilities
Quality Auditing Reporting System (QARS)
Cold Chain Breach and Vaccine Waste Reporting Form
Vaccine Cooler Temperature Chart
NSW Cold Chain Breach Protocol
Cold Chain Toolkit
ATAGI advice on influenza and COVID-19 vaccines

It is a requirement for pharmacists involved in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to have completed the COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program. This is to ensure vaccination providers are competent in the safe management and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

The training content is delivered via an e-learning platform at no cost which you can access and complete by visiting covid19vaccinationtraining.org.au.

Training is also available for non-clinical and administration staff and can access the non-clinical modules which cover the handling, storage and communication around the COVID-19 Vaccine.

Booking and patient management systems

Participating community pharmacies will be vaccinating patients in Phase 2a of the national COVID19 vaccine rollout. Particpating pharmacies will receive vaccine stock and access to the National Booking System, which is currently being developed by Health Engine as the Government’s chosen vendor. If pharmacies already have a booking/management system in place, that can also be used as majority of vendors integrate with the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

HealthEngine to build COVID-19 National Booking System

The Department of Health has selected HealthEngine to build the booking platform that will underpin the federal government’s Covid-19 vaccination information and booking service. The platform, which is expected to be up and running in time for the next phase of the vaccine rollout in the coming weeks, will allow patients to locate and book appointments with clinics. Pharmacies, general practices and state-run vaccination clinics, will be able to use the platform where they do not already have a booking system in place.

 

 BenefitsCost
Go Bookings/Vaccine ConnectIntegrates with AIR. 
Payment can be made online. 
Management of bookings, including walk ins.  
Can add multiple services. 
SMS reminders.  
Voucher management system. 
Multi-dose booking function.  
Inventory management. 
Ability to disable services e.g., flu vaccines when stock is low.  
$100 per month. 
$250 once off activation fee. 
HealthEngineIntegrates with AIR via Med Advisor. 
Voucher management system. 
Online pre-screening forms. 
Recall system to remind patients of subsequent vaccine dose. 
SMS reminders. 
Payment can be made online or instore.  
Management of bookings, including walk ins. 
Electronic recording of vaccination encounters. 
Ability to manage appointment availability.  
Can add multiple services.  
Ability to disable services e.g., flu vaccines when stock is low. 
$85 per month. 
$125 once off activation fee. 

Provide ongoing support.  
Can provide training sessions. 
GuildCare NGIntegrates with AIR. 
Integrated with more than 10 dispensing vendors. 
Subscription includes myPharmacyLink – medication management app for patients.  
Manage service appointments via inbuilt calendar. 
Select dates and times services are available.  
Ability to disable services e.g., flu vaccines when stock is low. 
SMS reminders. 
User guides and training videos.  
Generates unique link to be shared with customers to book online.  
Guild Members:  
Annual – $1644.50 
Monthly – $146.30 

Non-Guild Members: 
Annual – $2194.50 
Monthly - $192.13 

PRODA is an online authentication system providers use to securely access government online services such the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) and Health Professionals online Services (HPOS).

A PRODA account can be created by visiting the PRODA registration page here and selecting Register Now. You’ll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Create your account – you will need to provide personal details, create a username and password, and verify your email address.
  2. Verify your identity – you will need to verify your identity online using Government-issued identity documents e.g Australian Passport, Medicare card. A list of documents accepted can be viewed here.
  3. Link existing records – to gain access to services you’re eligible for as an individual such as HPOS, you’ll need to link your PRODA account to the service by clicking on the tile and enter any relevant details.

Recognised vaccination providers and administrators can use the AIR site through HPOS to record immunisation details for individuals, view and print immunisation history statements, request reports and update their contact details.

To download and print an immunisation history statement, please follow instructions here

OR

view our guide here.

NSW Health has developed a procedures guide around the cold chain management of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. This guide describes the process of receiving, storing, and administrating a COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to view.

Other useful resources

  1. Vaccine Refrigerator Protocol
  2. Cold Chain Breach and Vaccine Wastage Reporting Form
  3. NSW Cold Chain Breach Protocol
  4. Cold Chain Toolkit
  5. Strive for 5 guidelines

 

Click here to download the above infographic.

For Patients
  1. Display signage/posters in the pharmacy to encourage patients with symptoms to identify themselves early to pharmacy staff so they can be triaged accordingly. Signage is available from NSW Health.
  2. Display signage/posters to encourage patients with symptoms to seek testing for COVID-19.
  3. Encourage physical distancing of 1.5 metres where possible, for example through floor markings and barriers to create space at counters, seated areas, etc. Speak to patients from a safe distance to avoid contact with respiratory droplets.
  4. Put alcohol-based hand rub dispensers in prominent places around the pharmacy, including the entrance and at counters where surfaces are touched.
  5. Inform patients of places where they can wash their hands with soap and water (for a minimum of 20 seconds).
For Staff
  1. Be familiar with your pharmacy’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  2. Don’t go to work if you have one or more COVID-19 symptoms. Make alternative arrangements with your workplace and get tested as soon as possible. Do not return to work until you receive a negative test result and are feeling well.
  3. Staff who are close or casual contacts should only return to work when advised by NSW Health.
  4. Know where the nearest COVID-19 testing clinics are located and encourage patients seeking cold and flu preparations to get tested.
  5. Follow patient screening protocols and be prepared to follow the steps to minimise COVID-19 risk if providing services to a patient who has COVID-19 symptoms.
  6. Be ready to respond to enquiries about COVID-19 vaccinations by referring to COVID-19 vaccination in NSW and COVID-19 vaccination FAQs .
  7. Practise effective hand hygiene, wash hands thoroughly or use an alcohol-based hand rub throughout the work day and avoid touching your face as much as possible.
  8. Keep a distance of 1.5 metres between staff and patients where possible.
  9. Limit the number of people in the consultation room to the pharmacist, patient, and carer (where necessary).
  10. Wear a mask if you are in an area where there is active or recent community transmission, if providing services to a patient with an acute respiratory condition, or if otherwise indicated by NSW Health.
  11. Pharmacists undertaking direct clinical services (e.g. vaccination or examining a skin rash) should follow standard precautions – personal protective equipment, such as a mask or gloves, would not be required routinely unless there is a risk of exposure to blood or body substances. Hand hygiene remains the cornerstone of infection prevention. Wearing gloves is not a substitute for hand hygiene.
For Managers
  1. It is recommended that community pharmacies have a COVID-19 Safety Plan. A template plan is available. This plan should consider the unique circumstances and location of the business, and routinely be reviewed and updated.
  2. Ensure patient screening processes are understood and followed by all staff.
  3. Incorporate recommendations on infection prevention into each step of service models. This includes handwashing facilities, hand sanitiser provision, physical distancing and wearing masks.
  4. If there is active community transmission, NSW Health strongly recommends that pharmacists and staff working directly with patients wear masks. Pharmacies should consider the Clinical Excellence Commission advice on when healthcare workers in different contexts should wear masks.
  5. Staff who are close or casual contacts must follow NSW Health advice and only return to work when advised by NSW Health.
  6. Prepare staff to refer patients to information about how NSW is implementing parts of the Australian COVID-19 vaccine program.
  7. Encourage staff to get vaccinated for influenza when vaccines become available next flu season. This is to protect themselves, their families and vulnerable patients from seasonal flu.
Cleaning and Waste Management

Key recommendations for pharmacies include:
– increasing the frequency of environmental cleaning, particularly high touch surfaces like benchtops and handles
– timing scheduled appointments to support physical distancing and appropriate cleaning of surfaces
– ensuring closed bins are provided for safe disposal of tissues by staff and patients.

Cleaning and waste management should be included in the pharmacy’s COVID-19 Safety Plan (recommended). A template plan is available for use.

You can view your customer’s immunisation status by accessing the “Immunisation view” from their My Health Record via your conformant dispensing software or the National Provider Portal. The immunisation details in their My Health Record are directly from AIR.

The immunisation view will inform you when their next immunisation(s) due and their status for the COVID-19 vaccine. Below is a snapshot of a consolidated view of the Immunisation document in a customer’s MHR:

 

NOTE: Under the My Health Record Act 2012, as a healthcare provider you have the right to access and view the My Health Record of a customer you are providing care for. This means you do not need to obtain consent prior to accessing and uploading information when providing services to the customer.

If you need help viewing your customer’s immunisation record, please contact digitalhealth@snhn.org.au.

Preparing an anaphylaxis response kit (click here to download PDF)

 

 

Managing anaphylaxis after vaccination (click here to download PDF)

 

 

NSW Health info sheet: anaphylaxis after vaccination

This NSW Health information sheet covers:

  • signs and symptoms
  • managing anaphylaxis
  • risk factors for fatal anaphylaxis

All uncommon, serious or unexpected Adverse Event Following Immunisations (AEFIs) should be reported to your local public health unit.

To report a suspected AEFI, please complete the National Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) Reporting Form and contact your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.

Further information: NSW Health – what is an AEFI?

Information for health professionals

COVID-19 Health Pathways

The Sydney North HealthPathways team have completed a rapid localisation of the pathway Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Information. If you have not accessed HealthPathways before, or if you have any questions, please contact the HealthPathways Team: healthpathways@snhn.org.au

 

Updated information and advice for health professionals

 

COVID-19 Infection Control Online Training

This is designed to provide training on protecting yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID-19. The training takes approximately 30 minutes.  Training is accessible here.

Supporting people with disabilities during COVID-19

  • Helpline to assist health professionals to deliver care to people with a disability (diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms): call 1800 131 330 between 8am – 9pm (AEST), Monday to Friday. Calls will be answered by health professionals with disability service qualifications and experience working with people with disability. More info here.
  • Department of Health factsheets

COVID-19 Vaccination for Aged Care Information

 

COVID-19 outbreak preparation: Advice for GPs with patients in Aged Care Facilities

Click here to view the tip sheet. This document is the first in a series to support GPs working in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) and is designed to support involvement in RACF COVID-19 ou-break preparedness activities. It incorporates the expertise of a range of stakeholders including our local Emergency Response Outbreak Advisory Group GPs, Dr James Hardy and Prof Sue Kurrle, Geriatricians in Northern Sydney LHD.

 

COVID vaccinations in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs)

Click here.

 

Process for Residents Developing COVID-19 Symptoms

During Regular Hours

Northern Sydney Local health District (NSLHD) mobile ‘Swab Team’ is available to attend Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) to complete COVID-19 swabbing. The ‘Swab Team’ can be contacted on 0438 613 273 during these hours:

  • Monday to Sunday (7 days)
  • 9am – 5pm

After Hours

Outside of these hours, NSLHD does not provide a mobile COVID-19 testing service.

If a RACF resident develops COVID-19 like symptoms outside of these hours, please implement the following recommendations:

    • Contact the resident’s GP for medical advice and/or follow your usual after hours GP protocols.
    • Isolate the resident and implement contact and droplet precautions.
    • Utilise appropriate PPE.
    • If the resident remains well enough to remain in the RACF, contact the ‘Swab Team’ at 9am the following day.
    • If the resident becomes acutely unwell, requiring urgent medical attention, call an ambulance on 000 and advise that the resident is potentially COVID-19 positive.

 

Department of Health newsletter for aged care sector

This specific COVID-19-related newsletter ensures those in the aged care sector have access to best-practice information and resources. You can subscribe to the newsletter here or view web versions of past editions here.

 

Helping patients with Dementia navigate COVID-19

  • To find out more click here.
  • National Dementia Helpline, 1800 100 500 – for  all health professionals supporting people living with dementia, and family carers in need of support during this difficult time.

 

Requesting PPE

Aged care providers can request PPE by sending an email to agedcareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au

Further information on PPE for Aged Care providers can be found here.

 

Information for discharging new and returning residents

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/covid-19-discharging-residents.aspx

 

Flu Vaccination Information for Aged Care Facilities

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/Influenza/Pages/residential-care.aspx

 

Guidelines for Aged Care Facilities on COVID-19 outbreaks – Dept of Health

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidelines-for-outbreaks-in-residential-care-facilities

 

Secondary Triage – Update Information for Residential Aged Care Facility Health Workers

https://sydneynorthhealthnetwork.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Secondary-Triage-for-Residential-Aged-Care-Facilities-Updated-Information-for-RACF-Healthcare-Workers.pdf

Secondary Triage – Information for Patients and Their Families

https://sydneynorthhealthnetwork.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Secondary-Triage-for-Residential-Aged-Care-Facilities-Information-for-RACF-Patients-and-Families-V3.pdf

 

Palliative Care

Advance Care Planning during the time of COVID-19:
https://www.advancecareplanning.org.au/for-health-and-care-workers/covid-19-web#/

 

Caring at Home package for carers during Covid

https://www.caringathomeproject.com.au/Portals/13/Documents/caring@home-FactSheet-COVID-UPDATE-WEB.pdf

 

Palliative care resources for GPs during COVID-19

https://www.caresearch.com.au/caresearch/tabid/5971/Default.aspx

Respiratory high-risk therapies

The NSW Government’s Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI) has released some resources on the use of respiratory therapies that generate aerosolised particles. These therapies are capable of transmitting respiratory viruses including COVID-19. For this reason, they are considered high-risk.

The documents, which can be found here, provide some guidance around how to mitigate the risk of these therapies to keep people safe. There are also some alternatives that should be considered. These documents were informed by an evidence review, and developed by experts from the respiratory, intensive care, anaesthetics, paediatrics and infection control disciplines.

  • Respiratory physiotherapy
  • Nebuliser
  • High flow nasal prong oxygen (HFNPO2)
  • Non-invasive ventilation (NIV)

From 13 March 2020 to 31 December 2021, new temporary MBS telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers.

  • The list of telehealth services has continued to expand since 13 March. The latest factsheet provides details on all current telehealth items.
  • The MBS telehealth items are available to GPs, medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, participating midwives and allied health providers.
  • Please read the factsheet above for more information (conditions, exceptions, etc).

MBS items for longer telephone consults in hotspot areas

From 16th July, Medicare-supported telephone consultations lasting more than 20 minutes have returned to Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots.

MBS rebates for Level C telephone consultations with a GP took effect on Friday 16 July. A new MBS item (92746) was introduced for a phone attendance by a GP lasting at least 20 minutes, if the service is performed on a person who is in:

  • a COVID-19 Commonwealth declared hotspot
  • COVID-19 isolation or quarantine because of a state or territory public health order.

An MBS item for Level C phone attendances by other medical practitioners (92747) is also available.

These items are exempt from the ‘usual medical practitioner’ rule that require a patient to have received a face-to-face consultation from the medical practitioner or the practice in the last twelve months.

Visit MBS Online for more information.

 

We can help you set up telehealth technology in your practice

SNHN can help primary care practitioners and specialists get set up with a free, fit-for-purpose telehealth solution designed for health professionals. Email your query to digitalhealth@snhn.org.au

The Department of Health has issued a ‘Guide for Prescribers’ fact sheet, containing interim arrangements for prescriptions to support telehealth services.

It contains instructions on how to correctly send prescriptions to pharmacies via email, text message or fax, as well as other guidance on medicine delivery services, and existing prescriptions and repeats.

Temporary changes to locum tenens

The locum tenens period for health professionals is now 12 weeks. The Department of Health has temporarily extended the period to support the COVID-19 response. Click here for more information.

NSW Government My Health Learning Videos

These videos are divided into the three categories of airborne, contact and droplet precautions. Click here to watch.

 

Department of Health: Guidance on use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in non-inpatient healthcare setting during the COVID-19 outbreak

Download PDF here

 

Video series: how to use personal protective equipment (PPE)

The RACGP has released a handy series of short videos on using personal protective equipment. See below:

  1. How to sanitise your hands
  2. How to don PPE
  3. How to fit a P2/N95 mask
  4. How to remove and dispose of PPE

You can view the full version here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AG0iDJGKUmc&t=42s (7 mins)

 

Mask-fitting guidelines

https://sydneynorthhealthnetwork.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Principles-of-Fit-checking-chart2.pdf

 

Using PPE in aged care

This flowchart outlines when and how aged care workers should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and others against coronavirus (COVID-19): https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-when-to-use-personal-protective-equipment-in-aged-care

 

Advice on wearing masks in the community

The NSW Government is strongly encouraging greater use of masks in high-risk public settings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant specifically recommends:

  • the use of face masks in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport or in supermarkets
  • the use of face masks (where practical) in indoor settings with a higher risk of transmission, such as for the staff of hospitality and customer-facing venues i.e. cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs
  • during attendance at places of worship.

For more information, click here.

Distribution of PPE through Primary Health Networks

Primary Health Networks have been given the role of distributing PPE to practices with demonstrated need, including:

  • where there is no local supply available commercially
  • where practices have a population, which may be more likely to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus
  • where practices have an unusual number of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms

Eligibility:

  • GP respiratory clinics
  • General practices
  • Community pharmacies
  • After-hours GP home visiting services
  • Medical deputising services
  • Nurse practitioner-owned or -led primary care practices
  • Allied health

Community pharmacies are eligible to access the supply for the use of their staff when there is no available commercial supply and they have significant contact with people presenting with fever or respiratory symptoms.

Allied health professionals are eligible for limited access to the supply for the use of their staff, where there is no available commercial supply and they are working in higher-risk clinical areas and with higher-risk vulnerable patients. See also guidance for PHNs for distribution of PPE to allied health professionals.

Advice for residential aged care facilities. If Commonwealth funded aged care providers are experiencing shortages and are unable to obtain masks from any other source may be eligible to request a small supply from the National Stockpile by emailing AgedCareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au.

For more information, please refer to the latest guidance for the distribution of PPE through Primary Health Networks.

Eligible practices, clinics and pharmacies can use the order form below to request a supply of PPE.

 

PPE Request Form

During the current outbreak in the Greater Sydney region, PHNs can now supply masks (surgical and P2), goggles and gowns to eligible health professionals for a limited time. Please use the order form below to request these.

    Please select yes or no depending on which items you need:

    Do I need to get tested for COVID-19?

    Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should get tested.

    People with coronavirus may experience any of the following:

    • fever
    • cough
    • tiredness (fatigue)
    • sore throat
    • shortness of breath
    • loss of taste or
    • loss of smell.

    If you have COVID-19 symptoms you can:

    • call your GP
    • call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 or use the Healthdirect symptom checker here
    • visit a respiratory clinic (see details below)
    • visit a NSW Health COVID-19 clinic (see details below)
    • In an emergency dial 000

    You can use the healthdirect online Coronavirus Symptom Checker tool at the bottom of this section to find out what, if any, actions you need to take to protect yourself and your community.

     

    COVID-19 testing options: what are the differences?

    From Respiratory Clinics to self-collection test kits at home, click here to find out which testing option is best for you.

    Where can I get tested?

    Use the NSW Health ‘COVID-19 clinics’ tool to search for your nearest testing clinic by suburb, postcode or local council.

    Community Information

    Where can I find trusted sources of information?

    Whilst media coverage of COVID-19 can help  you feel informed, it can also trigger feelings of anxiety and agitation. To stay up to date with accurate, factual information you can access:

    Sometimes the information provided by the NSW Ministry of Health and Australian Government Department of Health may differ. This is because the NSW Government provides information  specifically for NSW, which has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Australian Government provides information which is relevant for the whole of Australia – as a result, their messages may not be identical.

     

    Multilingual Resources

    NSW Health COVID-19 Information and resources in languages other than English

    COVID-19 in-language resources from NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service

    Translated resources for health workers and communities

    Information from the Australian Government in your language  Find information on health, education, business and financial support, visas and the border during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    SBS Radio Coronavirus Information in Your Language

     

    Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19 Fact Sheets

    COVID-19 – What you need to know

    COVID-19 – Information on social distancing 

    COVID-19 – Information about routine environmental cleaning and disinfection in the community 

     

    NSW Health and Australian Government Department of Health Information

    NSW Health Novel coronavirus FAQs

    Australian Government Department of Health Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Information 

     

    Healthdirect 

    healthdirect website coronavirus (COVID-19) hub – first point of reference for reliable information about COVID-19

    healthdirect Symptom Checker – an online tool that allows people to check their symptoms using a simple self-guided process.

     

    Supporting people with disabilities during COVID-19

    Person-centred emergency preparedness planning for COVID-19

    • information on how to assist people with disability in planning for how they will manage the impacts of the pandemic

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) hospital companion for people with disability

    • information on how to assist a person with disability if they need to go to hospital

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Information for Families

    • information for families of a person with intellectual or developmental disability during the COVID-19 pandemic

    Information for Disability Support Providers and Workers

    • information and guidance for disability support providers and workers who provide health care to people with intellectual or developmental disability

    Guide to personal protective equipment (PPE) for disability care providers

    • information and guidance for disability care providers on the use of PPE

    Information for support workers and carers on coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for people with disability

    • information on who should be tested, where testing can be done, and how to explain the testing process to a person with disability

    Do I need to get tested for COVID-19?

    Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should get tested.

    People with coronavirus may experience any of the following:

    • fever
    • cough
    • tiredness (fatigue)
    • sore throat
    • shortness of breath
    • loss of taste or
    • loss of smell.

    If you have COVID-19 symptoms you can:

    • call your GP
    • call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 or use the Healthdirect symptom checker here
    • visit a respiratory clinic (see details below)
    • visit a NSW Health COVID-19 clinic (see details below)
    • In an emergency dial 000

    You can use the healthdirect online Coronavirus Symptom Checker tool at the bottom of this section to find out what, if any, actions you need to take to protect yourself and your community.

     

    COVID-19 testing options: what are the differences?

    From Respiratory Clinics to self-collection test kits at home, click here to find out which testing option is best for you.

    Where can I get tested?

    Use the NSW Health ‘COVID-19 clinics’ tool to search for your nearest testing clinic by suburb, postcode or local council.

    It is important to ensure you are still taking care of your health during this unprecedented time. GPs and Allied Health Practitioners are here for you during COVID-19.

    Practices are taking extra measures to ensure patient welfare, so it is still safe to visit your GP, Physio, Podiatrist or Dietician.

    If you have a chronic disease, or if you are concerned about a change to your health, you must visit a health professional.

    You can contact your local practice to book a face-to-face appointment or arrange a telehealth consultation over the phone.

    The following videos have been designed to provide you with further information about using health care services during COVID-19.

    WE'RE HERE FOR YOU: Healthcare is open

    It is safe to return to your GPs, specialists, allied health professionals and hospitals during this time to receive regular healthcare.

    WE'RE HERE FOR YOU: Healthcare is open (Professor Sue Kurrle)

    Geriatrician, Professor Sue Kurrle, tells us why older Australians should look after their health in the times of COVID-19. It is safe to return to your GPs, specialists, allied health professionals and hospitals during this time to receive regular healthcare.

    WE'RE HERE FOR YOU - Healthcare is open so see your GP (RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon)

    RACGP President, Dr Harry Nespolon shares the importance of maintaining your healthcare appointments during COVID-19.

    WE'RE HERE FOR YOU - Looking after your mental & physical health (Clinical and Counselling Psychologist Ros Knight)

    Clinical and Counselling Psychologist, Ros Knight, shares the importance of looking after your physical and mental health in the times of COVID-19.

    WE'RE HERE FOR YOU - Healthcare is open so visit your GP today! (Professor Simon Willcock)

    Local GP, Professor Simon Willcock shares the importance of maintaining your regular health check-ups during COVID-19.

    What is it?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that has not been previously identified.

    Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was discovered in China in late 2019 when number of people in the province of Wuhan sought medical advice for pneumonia-like symptoms. When tested by doctors, it was discovered that these individuals had developed a strain of coronavirus that hadn’t been seen before.

    What are the symptoms?

    Coronavirus symptoms include fever, flu-like symptoms (coughing, sore throat, head aches) and difficulty breathing. Severity can range from from mild illness to pneumonia.

    Experts believe that this outbreak is likely to have originated in an animal species and spread to humans. Some countries, including Australia, have reported human-to-human transmission.

    How is it spread?

    Human coronaviruses are spread from someone with confirmed coronavirus to other close contacts with that person through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.

    To help stop the spread of COVID-19 everyone should:

    • Find out what you can and can’t do in NSW under the new laws.
    • Practice good hygiene measures
      – make sure ​you clean your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
      – cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
      – avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
      – clean and disinfect your home or business to help to prevent the virus from spreading from contaminated surfaces
      – stay at home if you feel unwell or are experiencing any symptoms
    • Practice social distancing You should stay at least 1.5m away from others. Avoid physical greetings of any kind such as hugs or handshakes. Read more here.
    • Wear a mask in some situations – The NSW Government is strongly encouraging greater use of masks in high-risk public settings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The advice from the NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant specifically recommends:
        • the use of face masks in indoor settings where physical distancing is hard to maintain, such as on public transport or in supermarkets
        • the use of face masks (where practical) in indoor settings with a higher risk of transmission, such as for the staff of hospitality and customer-facing venues i.e. cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs
        • during attendance at places of worship.

      For a quick guide on how to wear a mask, click here. (NB: this resource is available on 67 other languages here.)

    Some people should:

    If you have been identified as a contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 infection in Australia, the local public health unit will contact you with advice. You need to isolate yourself at home for 14 days after contact with the infected person, and to monitor your health and report any symptoms.

    Person-to-person spread of coronaviruses generally occurs between people who are close contacts with one another. A close contact is typically someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, with a person that was infectious. The public health unit will keep in touch with people who are close contacts of patients with COVID-19 infection. If any symptoms develop contacts must call the public health unit to report those symptoms.

     

    Click here for NSW Government advice on who needs to self-isolate, and how.

     

    More information about home isolation is available for:

    Mental and Emotional Wellbeing

    Many aspects of life are affected by a pandemic. Most people have little experience of an event like COVID-19 and it can be quite overwhelming when your health, social life, employment and financial situation are impacted. It is important to look after your mental health during this time. You can do this by:

     

    Physical care

    Nutrition

    Exercise

    Although it is may be more challenging to stay fit when self-quarantining, daily exercise is critical to overall physical and mental health. You could take up running, yoga, or other home workouts. There are many free online guides and mobile apps to guide you through home workouts. Some of these include:

     

    What if I need to see a doctor?


    If you need to see a doctor, call (don’t visit) your local practice. The staff will help you decide whether you require a face-to-face consultation, or a consultation over the phone or by video (‘telehealth’).

    • Telehealth is designed to protect you, your GP and the wider community by reducing the number of people visiting GP waiting rooms, where the virus could potentially spread
    • If you have symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, headache, cough, sore throat or muscle aches, your doctor may refer you to a Respiratory Clinic or an Emergency Department. If you need a prescription your doctor will send this directly to your local pharmacy where you can collect it, or your pharmacy may be able to deliver to your home.

    The Home Medicines Service is available for people in home isolation and for vulnerable patient groups who wish to limit their potential exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community. For more information click here.

     

    What if I need to see a dentist?

    As coronavirus restictions are eased and dental practices open up for the full range of dental procedures once again, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is reminding people to book an appointment with their dentist.

    To find out more, read the ADA’s media release here.

    Accessing support services during COVID-19

    Mental Health Services

    Homelessness Services

    Domestic Violence Services

    Community feedback

    Do you have a ‘good news’ story about your community? If so, the Community Engagement Team at SNHN would love to hear from you. Perhaps a local business is supporting the vulnerable or you know someone who is going ‘above and beyond’ to help others. Email your story and any accompanying photographs to Community@snhn.org.au

    Breast cancer screening: Following a temporary suspension of services to protect the community, BreastScreen NSW will now gradually resume routine breast screening. Find out more at the BreastScreen NSW website.

    Cervical cancer screening: The Department of Health is monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health services. It is important for people to keep seeing their healthcare provider for their cervical screening and any follow-up investigations recommended. If you have received a reminder about your screening and have any questions or concerns, please call your doctor or healthcare provider to talk about your circumstances. More information on COVID-19 is available through the Department of Health website or through the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 020 080.

    Bowel cancer screening: During COVID-19, people eligible for bowel cancer screening will still receive invitations, test kits and reminder correspondence about bowel screening in the mail (as long as the mail is being delivered in your area). If you have a test kit at home, you should still do the test. For more details, read the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program COVID-19 FAQs. If you have any questions or concerns, please call your doctor or healthcare provider to talk about your circumstances. More information on COVID-19 is available through the Department of Health website or through the COVID-19 hotline on 1800 020 080.