COVID-19: What you need to know

The APA is working hard to keep these FAQs current and reflective of the rapidly evolving advice.

If you do come across FAQs that require attention please email Advocacy Team

The World Health Organisation has declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic requiring a global coordinated effort.

There is currently no vaccine available for this new virus and symptoms can include fever, flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue and/or shortness of breath.

The information on this page contains specific advice to support APA members and their patients. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide our members with relevant up-to-date information as it becomes available. We urge our members to be vigilant for signs of the virus.

For the latest information about the Coronavirus, visit the Department of Health website. Also, visit APA advocacy during COVID-19 for detailed information about our work.

This page was last updated on Wednesday 8 April 2020

Steps to take immediately:

  • discuss a plan of action with your staff/colleagues
  • ensure that all clinical and non-clinical staff have a good understanding of infection control principles
  • know the signs of the coronavirus and be vigilant
  • place information posters in your clinic or workplace
  • consider advising patients to reconsider/delay treatment if they have flu like symptoms or have travelled to internationally known hot spots in recent weeks
  • use preventative measures to limit the spread of virus.

COVID-19 response update for Allied Health Practitioners Webinars

These webinars, hosted by Principal Medical Advisor, Professor Michael Kidd AM, is specifically for Allied Health practitioners from the Department of Health. View the recordings of the webinars here:

In your workplace

Staff

It is imperative that all clinical and non-clinical staff have a good understanding of infection control principles. Ensure that you also take note of important Work (Occupational) Health and Safety (WHS) considerations during this time.

Within practices, there is a WHS obligation to do everything reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of anyone who enters the workplace (this includes workers, patients, carers etc.). This includes limiting the spread of illness (including coronavirus) wherever reasonably possible.

If you or your staff have travelled or have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, special restrictions apply, including isolation.

To help limit the spread of coronavirus, you must isolate yourself in the following circumstances:

  • if you have travelled overseas you must isolate for 14 days
  • if you have been in close contact with a proven case of coronavirus, you must isolate yourself for 14 days from the date of the last contact with the confirmed case.

For more information refer to the Department of Health Information Sheet.

Other preventative measures to limit the spread of the virus include*:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet;
  • when cleaning, wear gloves and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser before and after wearing gloves
  • if unwell, avoiding contact with others (including touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact); and;
  • coughing or sneezing into your elbow

*Information for health and residential care workers provided by the Department of Health.

You may also consider disinfecting items such as communal computers/phones, reception desks, waiting areas etc.

It is important to remember that you cannot act in a discriminatory manner towards your patients or staff members and that any action taken must be considered reasonable to fulfil your WHS obligations.

As in normal circumstances, if any of your employees are noticeably unwell (i.e. not fit for work) they should remain at home until they are fit to return to work (with medical clearance).

Practice owners

The APA appreciates this is a concerning time for many private practices and their patients. We encourage you to maintain vigilance with practice hygiene and infection prevention measures and consider advising patients to delay treatment if they have flu like symptoms or have travelled to internationally known hot spots in recent weeks.

We strongly recommend that you take some time to consider business continuity measures for your practice should the situation escalate. Information and assistance on business continuity planning can be found here.

We have been in contact with our insurer, BMS. Their previous advice in relation to Business Interruption cover was that until the disease was defined as ‘quarantinable’, the policy would respond to provide cover. This relied on the definition of Quarantinable Disease within the 1908 Quarantine Act. The 1908 Quarantine Act was replaced by the 2015 Biosecurity Act which has no definition for Quarantinable Disease.

Given the COVID-19 situation is constantly changing, we have now received further advice from BMS that they have amended their position, and their policy wording will be updated to reflect this.

There is no coverage under the BMS Business Insurance Policy for any loss resulting from COVID-19 . The definition of Quarantinable Disease is considered to be superseded by Listed Human Diseases which are subject to quarantine-like actions by the government and as such is deemed to be quarantinable by all reasonable interpretations.

The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent effects on our community are unprecedented, and BMS will continue to support members as much as possible during this time. Members should seek further advice about their business interruption or any other insurance matters by contacting BMS directly at apa@bmsgroup.com or 1800 931 068.

If your insurance policy is with another provider you should check directly with them for advice specific to your situation.

For practices that work with the aged care sector, the Federal Health Department has provided this letter containing further information and fact sheets.

Residential aged care

The following information and resource links may be useful for your consideration:

Surgical masks

With the emergence of COVID-19 across many countries, there is a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), including surgical masks and P2/N95 respirators. As a first step in releasing PPE from the National Medical Stockpile, the Australian Government has provided a limited supply of surgical masks and P2/N95 respirators for general practices (including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services) and community pharmacies with a demonstrated need.

Further guidance on the use of surgical masks can be found on the The Department of Health website.

Stay at home and resticted activities

The Department of Health and Human Services developed at series of FAQ that address the current restrictions in Victoria

More information

The World Health Organisation’s advice to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection include:

  • frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • when coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissues away immediately and wash your hands
  • avoid close contact with anyone that has fever and cough

For more information on the Coronavirus, you can contact:

  • Coronavirus Health Information Line, Department of Health on 1800 020 080 (operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
  • the Public Health Information Line on 1800 004 599