Coronavirus (COVID-19) information – Updated 1 April 2020

UPDATED 1 APRIL 2020

We are currently experiencing a high demand for appointments and our phone lines are very busy. We appreciate your patience while we give each of our patients the time they need.

What is it?

As you are aware, there is a worldwide novel (new) coronavirus outbreak known as COVID-19, with most cases in Wuhan, China. Exported cases are now reported in many countries around the world including Australia, with confirmed cases in Tasmania increasing.

Image result for spread of coronavirus from china march 2020

Coronavirus is the virus that causes the common cold. This virus raised concerns because it did not match any other known virus and because we had limited knowledge of how it spread, its incubation period, how to treat it and how it affected people. Our knowledge over time has increased substantially.

The Tasmanian Public Health Service has an excellent summary of coronavirus here.

Since it is a coronavirus, it will cause upper respiratory (nose and throat) symptoms, including cough, sore throat, fever, and shortness of breath. For people who have a lowered immune system (pregnant, certain medical conditions and the elderly) coronavirus can present as a lower-respiratory tract illness like pneumonia. Some people may have a severe respiratory infection requiring admission to hospital.

What to monitor for

  1. Fever
  2. Respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, fever and shortness of breath)
  3. Severe acute respiratory infection requiring admission to hospital
  4. Recent interstate or overseas travel
  5. Exposure to a person with confirmed infection with COVID-19.

You can protect yourself and protect others by following these instructions. If you are well, you do not need to wear a face mask.

What to do?  

If you are concerned you may have been exposed to COVID-19:

  1. It is important you minimise contact with other people to prevent the spread of the virus. It is important you tell health professionals if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19. 
  2. If you think you might have COVID-19 because of recent travel or contact with a confirmed case, phone the Tasmanian Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738.
  3. If you need an ambulance, call 000. It is important you tell them if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
  4. If you are well enough and do not need an ambulance, you can contact the practice by phone. You will speak to one of our Registered Nurses who will triage you.
  5. We may ask you to stay isolated at home or ask you to come to the practice. If you come to the practice, we will isolate you in a separate room.
  6. If we think you have coronavirus based on your symptoms and other criteria, we will refer you to Public Health for testing.
  7. If you do not contact the practice by phone beforehand and arrive at the practice, it is important that you let reception know if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 – we prefer that you wait outside if possible.

What are we doing at Huon Valley Health Centre?  

We are taking a number of steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community and to protect our vulnerable patients. These include:

  1. Asking all patients screening questions about symptoms and travel history – and if the answer is yes, asking them to wear a face mask. You may be asked these questions multiple times – we thank you for your patience
  2. Installing hand hygiene and mask stations around our waiting rooms and entrances
  3. Removing self check in kiosks in order for our receptionists to complete their screening questions
  4. Removing all non-essential items from waiting rooms to reduce the risk of surface transmission of viruses
  5. Ordering extra influenza vaccinations – the estimated time of arrival of flu shots is early to mid April 2020
  6. We are able to offer telehealth consultations (a phone or video consultation with a doctor) to all patients. You are able to book telehealth consultations online or over the phone. We are also beginning to follow up your test results with you over the phone – you may receive a text message prompting you to make a telehealth appointment.

For more information, please visit the daily COVID-19 update page on the Australian Department of Health website, or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line 24/7 hotline on 1800 020 080.

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