What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19)


Last updated on 25 May 2020, 8:30am


The Pulsecheck survey is currently closed but we will be collecting your responses again in the very near future, stay tuned...

Alternatively, if you have any questions you'd like answered by our Nurse Support Line, email us and detail what your concerns are: nursesupport@apna.asn.au

See the Pulsecheck results (live) at the end of this page


Latest news


New resources

COVID-19 website for patients: Don't put your health on hold during COVID-19 and beyond. Assisting patients with what to do and where to go for assistance during COVID-19

COVID-19 education and training


Key resources and links

 National information: 

Coronavirus national hotline: 1800 020 080 

State information:

ACT: 02 5124 9213 (or 02 9962 4155 after hours)

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals
COVID-19 case definition

NSW: 1300 066 055

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals
COVID-19 case definition

NT: 08 8922 8044 | remote communities hotline: 1800 518 189

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals

COVID-19 case definition

SA: 1300 232 272

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals
COVID-19 case definition

 

TAS: 1800 671 738

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals
COVID-19 case definition

VIC: 1300 651 160

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals
COVID-19 case definition

QLD: 13 43 25 84

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals
COVID-19 case definition - see your local healthpathways for the latest evidence-based information on the assessment and management of COVID-19 

WA: 08 9328 0553

Latest news
COVID-19 information for health professionals
COVID-19 case definition

 

 

Find your PHN

Use the map here to search for your local PHN using your workplace address

Other resources

RACGP – includes telehealth MBS items

IT resources to assist during COVID and beyond:

Global resources


Good news stories you might have missed...


Pulsecheck live survey results:

Coronavirus Q&A

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • dry cough

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.

Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Suspected cases

If the patient satisfies epidemiological and clinical criteria, they are classified as a suspect case.

Epidemiological criteria

  • Travel to (including transit through) a country considered to pose a risk of transmission in the 14 days before the onset of illness. OR
  • Close or casual contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 1 https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdna-song-novel-coronavirus.htm Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) 2

Clinical criteria

  • Fever OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath or cough) with or without fever.
  • It is recommended clinicians consider testing people, with a clinically compatible illness, who have travelled to some other countries, in the 14 days before onset of symptoms, based on the volume of travel between those countries, Australia and China, and/or the current epidemiology of COVID-19.  

Clinical and public health judgement should be applied.

Sources:

Videos to review and share:

Vulnerable/isolated patients are those where at least one of the following apply:

(a) the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but who is not a patient of a hospital; or
(b) the person has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC); or
(c) the person is considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being a person who is:

  • at least 70 years old; or
  • at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
  • is pregnant; or
  • is a parent of a child under 12 months; or
  • is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised.

Source: Australian Government Department of Health

Australian Indigenous health

Asthma and respiratory disease resources

Aged care

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

Cancer and immunocompromised patients resources 

Cardiovascular disease

Diabetes

End of life care and advance care planning

Ensure you review, know or implement advance care directives for your patients.

Pregnancy and childern

For patients with HIV, viral hepatitis, other BBVs and sexually transmissible infections

General

The Department advised service providers that in order to conserve supply, PPE should not be used if providers don’t have patients with COVID 19, gastro-enteritis or other infectious disease outbreaks. 

PPE innovations

 

 PPE is to be used with:

Suspected cases

If the patient satisfies epidemiological and clinical criteria, they are classified as a suspect case.

Epidemiological criteria

  • Travel to (including transit through) a country considered to pose a risk of transmission in the 14 days before the onset of illness. OR
  • Close or casual contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19. 1 https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdna-song-novel-coronavirus.htm Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) 2

Clinical criteria

  • Fever OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath or cough) with or without fever.
  • It is recommended clinicians consider testing people, with a clinically compatible illness, who have travelled to some other countries, in the 14 days before onset of symptoms, based on the volume of travel between those countries, Australia and China, and/or the current epidemiology of COVID-19. Refer to https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdna-song-novelcoronavirus.htm for details.

Clinical and public health judgement should be applied.

Cleaning product availability

APNA wouldn't usually do this but we've been told the below suppliers may have stock (not 100% guarantee though)...

  • Universal and detergent clinell wipes
  • Hand rub suppliers:
  • CH2 - 1300 720 274
  • Team Medical – 1300 224 450
  • EBOS / Vital Medical – 1300 557 651
  • Warner & Webster – 1300 556 917
  • McFarlane Medical – 03 9836 777
  • SSS Australia - 1800 777 518

What is it?

Telehealth services use information and communications technologies (ICTs) to deliver health services and transmit health information over both long and short distances. It is about transmitting voice, data, images and information rather than moving care recipients, health professionals or educators. It encompasses diagnosis, treatment, preventive (educational) and curative aspects of healthcare services and typically involves care recipient(s), care providers or educators in the provision of these services directed to the care recipient.

Video-conferencing is one of the main ways in which telehealth is improving access to healthcare services for patients.

How to use?

  • Getting started with telehealth 
  • Latest advice is to not use the free versions of telehealth software such as Go to Meeting. These free versions do not meet the privacy and data saftey requirements for health care use.
  • Workplaces should ensure which ever softwear is in use that it meets the privacy law requirements

MBS items available?

Using email

My Health Record

Information in My Health Record supports front line healthcare professionals in these circumstances such as these. Ensuring people and their clinicians have access to their medicines in situations where they were unable to attend their regular GP or pharmacy is more cructial than ever.

The Shared Health Summary is a key source of this information, and nurses can upload a SHS for their patients who have a My Health Record as we battle the current COVID-19 crisis. This may assist general practice nurses, GPs, pharmacists and hospital staff who are managing people in isolation and undergoing Telehealth consultations.

Don't forget to upload them where possible. My Health Record may also contain important summary information on things such as pathology results, medicines, allergies and other health conditions as they encounter patients who are new to their practices or hospital emergency departments.

The government is working to accelerate electronic prescribing to complement new COVID-19 Telehealth MBS item numbers; with the pathology sector to enhance digital systems that can provide people with access to COVID-19 pathology test results in a timely manner, reducing pressure on general practices, emergency departments and hospital outpatient services who are undertaking screening for the disease.

Should I still run them?

  • If anything, it's even more important to ensure patients are immunised against influenza.

How are workplaces running flu clinics?

Each workplace needs to undertake a risk and needs assessment based on:

  • How will your flu clinics will run in the current climate i.e. do you have enough dedicated resources to do this in terms of space and/or staff?
  • How will you ensure a safe space for your patients post vaccination?

Some options to consider:

  • Dedicated 'flu clinic only days' within your workplace to reduce stress on staff and patients
  • Offsite clinics ensuring you have the correct staff and medical equipment to do so
  • 'Drive through' flu clinics and/or CDM clinics
  1. We recommend you allocate someone in your workplace to keep up to date and communicate regularly to all staff on:
    • Evidence-based health messages
    • Your organisation’s plan for COVID-19
  2. Ensure staff know about your infection control policy:
    • What it is
    • Where to find it and
    • How to implement it
  3. Use and apply/remove PPE as per guidelines:
  4. Do not come to work with a sore throat or sniffle (unless the sniffle is an allergy).
    • We know you’re all heroes, but your sore throat can become a pneumonia in your transplant or dialysis patients or older people.
  5. Have a reminder for using hand rub for staff. Maybe there’s a reminder to use it on the hour as well as when clinically indicated.
  6. Look at what can be done in your workplace environment. Remove all potential virus spreading removable surfaces (within reason). This includes:
    • Waiting room germ spreaders like magazines, books, toys, etc. We all know how much children love to put things in their mouths…
    • Wipe over high touch surfaces regularly – increasing this activity to more than just once or twice a day. Use your disinfectant wipes but leave the surface wet for a minute at least. This is a pretty easy virus to inactivate.
    • Remove linen and paper sheets.
      • Concentrate on doing a fantastic job using your wipes to wipe down the bed or couch each time (unless you have loads of time and money).
      • Patients will appreciate a damp clean bed rather than a tatty old bit of whatever that was, that has been used all day.
  7. We are told not to touch our faces – good luck trying to stop as it’s a reflex. Reach for the alcohol more often knowing you do this.

With thanks to Margaret Jennings from Marjen Education Services for providing some of these handy tips and tricks

  1. Ask patients to call ahead if they have symptoms/meet advice criteria.
  2. Ask every patient to use the hand rub while you ask them if they have any of those symptoms regardless of COVID-19.
  3. Consider triaging walk-in patients outside (you know the ones who turn up at the desk despite the millions of signs) to check they haven’t recently returned from overseas or have cough, runny nose, sore throat, etc.
  4. Pretty up your outdoor area (if you have time/capacity to do so). Get some chairs outside if it’s nice or else send those with any symptoms back to their car (so long as they’re not having a heart attack or any other emergency!); reception staff can ask for help if unsure. Buy a nice pot plant with the boss’ petty cash this weekend and help your local nursery at the same time.
  5. Look at rescheduling non-urgent appointments before demand overwhelms your capacity.
  6. Use new telehealth item numbers for patients in home isolation.
  7. Provide clear information for patients, carers or visitors. Ideally this is easy to find and visible on your website and near the entry to your building. See APNA's example here you can download and use or CDC’s poster.
  8. Give staff a prepared script to use, e.g.:
    • Have you travelled to, including transit through, a country considered to pose a risk of transmission in the 14 days before the onset of illness? Currently China, South Korea, Iran and Italy – but consider any international travel worth investigating and check daily for updates.
    • Do you have fever or acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath or cough, sore throat) with or without fever?
    • Have you had close or casual contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
  1. Work out your system for monitoring patients presenting with sniffles, sore throat or cough before they enter the building. Provide a mask and plan how to isolate.
  2. Provide symptomatic patients with PPE.
  3. Ensure staff safety – no standing on the road to assess patients.
  4. Where possible, use alternate entrances for those with symptoms and meeting advice criteria.
  5. Taking a swab? Consider doing this outside if you can, and if you can’t use the correct sequence of PPE for donning and doffing. We know that incorrect use of PPE leads to staff becoming infected.
  6. For patients presenting with likely pneumonia, off to hospital with them where they can be swabbed and tested there. Those with pneumonia are more infectious and shedding higher numbers of viral particles.
  1. Stay up to date – check out good resources such as the WHO
  2. Look after yourself and each other:
  3. Eat healthy food and stay hydrated (this may include switching to the drinkable version of alcohol if you wish but don’t overdo it, as we need you to be rested!)
  4. Get enough rest and exercise
  5. Limit exposure to distressing media information (like the toilet paper crisis)
  6. Seek help via NMBA Nurse Support Line 24/7 service: 1800 667 877 or www.nmsupport.org.au
  7. Check out the resources and links found at: 

Advocacy

APNA is actively monitoring what COVID means for our nurses working in primary health care and is always seeking feedback from you directly. This is inclusive of potential job losses and the need for nurses to access telehealth items. APNA is actively advocating directly with the federal government and other peak bodies to ensure the importance of the nursing role during this time is not lost or forgotten. We know nurses are vital the the continuation of healthcare in Australia, especailly in primary health. We want to ensure that Government and other peak bodies don't underestimate the impact nurses have on the health of the community.  

 Insurance

Worried about COVID-19 and your insurance cover?

The good news is, if you purchased your insurance with your APNA membership, which includes Medical Malpractice Combined Liability, then you are covered when working within your scope of practice and registration requirements as a health practitioner. There is no specific exclusion on your policy for infectious diseases including coronavirus (COVID-19).

There is even cover for Good Samaritan Acts, so if you happen to be present by chance at the scene of a medical emergency you are covered. See your policy for more details.

General advice warning:

This advice has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should therefore consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of your objectives, financial situation or needs before following the advice.

Please obtain a copy of and consider the product disclosure statement (PDS) applicable to the general insurance product before making any decision.

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