UPDATE 25 March - Coronavirus COVID-19
March 25, 2020
NEW Public Health Alert - Case definition and testing criteria updates
Queensland Health have released a new Public Health Alert detailing updates to the case definition and testing criteria for COVID-19 from the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA).
The changes include:
- criteria broadened to include returned travellers from cruise ships
- lower thresholds for testing suspected cases from residential facilities, correctional facilities, some Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and rural and remote communities, as well as other geographical areas with elevated risk of community transmission
- healthcare workers (including residential care workers) will now be tested if they have fever OR acute respiratory infection.
Read the full Queensland Health Public Health Alert dated 25 March 2020.
Read the update CDNA Guidelines - includes updated ‘probable’ and ‘suspect’ COVID-19 case definitions (page 5).
- If you are sending a patient for testing with a suspected case of COVID-19, ensure you call ahead to the pathology centre and ensure the patient is masked, goes directly for testing and then straight home to self-isolate.
- Patients should self-isolate until they obtain their results.
New restrictions on prescribing hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19
To help maintain the supply of hydroxychloroquine in Australia and discourage inappropriate prescribing, effective from 24 March 2020 the TGA is implementing changes to the Poisons Standard to place restrictions on the medical specialists who can initiate prescribing of the medication. Initiation of hydroxychloroquine is restricted to the following medical specialties as per the Medical Board list: dermatology; intensive care medicine; paediatrics and child health; physician; and emergency medicine.
- From 24 March 2020, GPs and other medical practitioners (e.g. hospital Resident Medical Officers (RMOS) and doctors in training) can continue to prescribe repeats for hydroxychloroquine to patients in line with the registered indications only for patients in whom the medication was prescribed prior to 24 March 2020.
Read TGA's article with more information about prescribing hydroxychloroquine.
Influenza Vaccinations in 2020
There are two rollouts for flu vaccine this year as follows:
- The 1st rollout commenced on 23 March and will only include Fluad Quad® for the 65 years and over group.
- The 2nd rollout will take place following the completion of the 1st rollout, will follow the same VSP delivery order as the 1st rollout and will contain Fluad Quad®, Fluarix Tetra® and Afluria Quad®.
- Qld Health Flu Information 2020
- Flu Communique 2020
- Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advice on seasonal influenza vaccines in 2020
General resources for clinicians
- Queensland Health webpage for clinicians
- Department of Health resources for clinicians webpage
- RACGP Website
- Brisbane South PHN has worked with RACGP QLD to develop some triage flowcharts for
receptionists and other practical resources for general practice
Darling Downs and West Moreton HealthPathways have been updated to include information about COVID-19.
Contacting your local Public Health Unit
PLEASE NOTE GPs are asked to notify their relevant Public Health Units of 'suspect cases' of COVID-19.
- For Darling Downs Health, please use this DDH Public Health Unit Notification Form.
- For West Moreton Health, please use this WMH Public Health Unit Notification Form.
Please discuss any cases of concern with your local Public Health Unit immediately so that appropriate actions and testing can be organised.
- Darling Downs P 07 4699 8240 (business hours) P 07 3646 1699 (after hours)
- West Moreton P 07 3818 4700 (business hours) P 07 3176 2111 (after hours, ask for public health)