Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
FOR MOST PEOPLE, GETTING CORONAVIRUS WILL BE A MILD ILLNESS REQUIRING NO MEDICAL ATTENTION BUT OLDER PEOPLE AND PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC DISEASES MAY EXPERIENCE A MUCH MORE SERIOUS ILLNESS.
In Perth, we are very fortunate to be living in one of the most isolated cities in the world and with sensible precautions, we should be able to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the impact on ourselves, our families and our communities. We have a low population density meaning that most housing is quite spread out – this will limit the spread of the virus. We all have a role to play in reducing the spread of the virus until a vaccine can be developed. Once developed, a vaccine will need to go through clinical trials and it is likely that we will not have a vaccine until next year. The 2020 flu vaccine will not protect you against Coronavirus but is highly recommended as it may protect you against other flu viruses that are circulating at the moment.
Given that this virus will be around for the months to come, we need to all be sensible and play our part to ensure our safety.
People with Coronavirus (COVID-19) may experience fever, cough, sore throat, aches, tiredness and breathlessness. The virus is spread through very fine droplets that are passed from person to person as we breathe, or cough in close proximity to an infected person. The virus can also be passed by touching contaminated surfaces.
To protect vulnerable groups of patients and our staff we have introduced a traffic light system to try and limit the spread of the virus:
You will be asked by reception about any cough, fevers, sore throat or cold symptoms. Please support us by being honest and letting us know if you have any of these symptoms.
You may be eligible for a Telephone consult, which will be covered by Medicare, if you are:
- over 70 years of age
- aboriginal / torres islander over 50 years of age
- have a chronic disease
- a parent with a child under 12 months
Zero Tolerance Policy
Our Practice has a Zero Tolerance Policy and any abuse will NOT be tolerated. Our frontline staff are working hard and putting their lives at risk to ensure all our patients are protected and cared for. If you do abuse our staff, you will be terminated by the Practice immediately. Thank you for your co-operation.
What you can do now:
1. Look after yourself AND your community
- Stop smoking – ask your doctor for help with this if you are struggling to quit. Smokers are more likely to get a more serious illness if they are infected with the virus.
- Eat healthily. There is plenty of food available and it is important not to hoard essential items as this will make it harder for everyone. The outbreak is likely to take months to settle down and so we will all need to make regular trips to the shops.
- Look after your mental health. This can be a very anxious and worrying time and you should consider reducing the amount of time you listen to the news or read social media. Avoid both before bedtime. Get plenty of sleep. Maintain your fitness levels
- Help those in need – consider your vulnerable neighbours who may need help with shopping and other household activities. If your friends or family members are frontline staff and have children in school, consider helping them during the Easter break so that they can attend work.
2. Reduce the spread of the virus
- Social distancing: avoid crowds and try to keep a distance of 1.5metres from people. No shaking hands or hugging. This includes our waiting room and consulting rooms.
- Do not touch the door handles in the practice.
- Hand washing: use soap and water or hand sanitiser, especially before eating or preparing food.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hand: use a tissue or your elbow and wash your hands after.
- If you are told to self-isolate, please follow the instruction. This is for the protection of everyone.
3. Seek medical help when needed
- If you are very unwell (such as breathlessness) and need urgent medical help call 000.
- If you think you need to see your usual doctor call ahead and make an appointment. If you are unwell, you will be asked to wait in your car instead of the waiting room and to wear a face mask when seen by the doctor.
- You may qualify for a Telehealth or Telephone consult with your usual GP practice. Call the reception of your usual GP practice to find out more.
What if I think I have Coronavirus?
Currently, you can be tested for Coronavirus at dedicated COVID-19 Clinics in Perth if you have a fever, upper respiratory symptoms such as a cough or sore throat and have been overseas recently or in contact with a known case of Coronavirus. You will need to show evidence of any travel. Healthcare staff with symptoms can also be tested at these clinics. You can check your risk using the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Risk Assessment Tool https://healthengine.com.au/covid19/
Do I really need to see a doctor?
Most coughs, colds and the flu will get better within a week with simple measures such as keeping hydrated and taking regular paracetamol. All GPs are feeling the pressure at the moment and so please consider do you really need to come in or can you wait a few days to see if you will get better.
There are other viruses around at the moment that can give us very similar symptoms to Coronavirus. These include flu viruses. We can reduce our chances of becoming unwell with some of the flu viruses by getting vaccinated. This year we are running dedicated flu vaccine clinics and will aim to vaccinate the most vulnerable patients first.
During this clinic, we will try to minimise your contact with other patients and you will be taken straight to a consulting room rather than waiting in the waiting room.
Please help us by arriving at your appointment time rather than early or late.
These will be busy clinics and we will be unable to address other issues or provide scripts during this time. Your cooperation is appreciated.
You will be able to call up or book online for these dedicated flu clinics.
Protect the vulnerable, your doctors, nurses and receptionists!
We are separating patients who are unwell and are only seeing unwell patients after 3pm so that we can limit the spread of the virus. If you are asked about flu-like symptoms, coughs, fevers etc, please be honest and understanding. If you book a morning appointment and have symptoms such as a cough, you are putting our staff and other patients at risk. Once again, your cooperation is appreciated at this difficult time.
We have introduced a new policy for patients that DID NOT ATTEND (DNA) their appointments. All patient who miss an appointment without cancelling at least 24 hours in advance will be charged $50 and will not be allowed to book another appointment with us until this is paid. There will be great pressure on healthcare over the coming months and it is unacceptable to waste an appointment that could have been used by someone else in need.
Doctors are unable to provide patients with COVID-19 clearance
As per government advice and guidelines, resources must be conserved for patients who are both unwell and fit strict testing criteria and this means that testing for COVID-19 outside of the strict medical criterion cannot and should not be done.
This is to preserve precious healthcare resources, such as testing kits, laboratory facilities, protective equipment and health care workers.
At this time, doctors are therefore unable to:
- Provide clearance for people who have returned from overseas. These patients need to self-isolate for 14 days. Once 14 days have passed, if the person shows NO symptoms, they are fit to return to work.
- Provide clearance for well people who have had contact with unwell people (specifically, if the unwell person has NOT been formally diagnosed with COVID-19). Our advice to everyone is to self-isolate if and when they develop any symptoms of a respiratory tract infection.
- Provide testing for patients with MILD illness symptoms, with no COVID-19 close contacts or travel risk factors. These people are to take ‘sick leave’ as usual for a cold or flu, and are able to return to work once their symptoms have fully resolved.
We have attached a letter that you can given to an employer or school/day care if a clearance is requested: