COVID-19 is challenging the capacity of our nation to respond to serious illness in a never before seen way.
We answer your questions about the impact of COVID-19 on your work, training, education, and wellbeing as a medical professional.
AMA priorities during COVID-19
The AMA is working tirelessly to campaign for doctors on sufficient PPE provision, the importance of usual care continuing, fast track telehealth access, economic support for practices, and private hospital guarantees.
The AMA has released a communique from its most recent Federal Council meeting, held on 26 September, which was dominated by the global pandemic.
“We have seen different strategies adopted by different States and Territories, with differing results,” AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, said.
“What we need to see now is national leadership, that ensures that all Australians understand the challenges that we are facing as a nation, and one single strategy that will lead us all out of this pandemic.
“This is how we get back to normal.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) has agreed to a series of new measures that apply to medical practitioners. These include updates to CPD, interns, IMGs and retired doctors.
If you're having difficulty securing PPE or other consumables, first, please make sure you and your practice are safe. The health of our medical and health workforce is a key priority for the AMA. If you are a GP, please contact your PHN for supplies. If you do not have access to the correct PPE do not treat or conduct testing on patients with potential COVID-19. Contact your local public health unit for advice on where to direct patients. If the issue is not resolved, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doctors and medical students are working under extraordinary and challenging circumstances and need to look after their health and wellbeing.
You may find strategies that worked for you previously provide the best approach for you. Whatever your circumstances, we have identified some information and ideas that can support you to cope and be your best personal and professional self.
DRS4DRS promotes the health and wellbeing of doctors and medical students across Australia.
If you are concerned about isolation from colleagues, family and friends during this difficult time and would like to talk to a friendly colleague at your State/Territory doctors’ health service, contact DRS4DRS
- COVID-19 novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus affecting humans.
- Disease severity ranges from an illness akin to the common cold through to more severe illness similar to that seen with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MARS).
- Knowledge of illness phenotypes, transmission and treatment are still evolving.
- People of all ages can be affected.
- Elderly people and those with prior illness (e.g. asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc) are more vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
- Australian Governments monitoring situation carefully and coordinating planning and resource allocation to manage greater infection rates if they occur in Australia.
- The Commonwealth Government activated the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on 27 February 2020.
- Cleaning hands with soap or alcohol-based hand rubs.
- Covering nose/mouth with flexed elbow or tissue when coughing/sneezing.
- Avoid contact (especially close contact such as touching) with anyone who has fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, dyspnoea.
- Stay home if unwell
- 94% of deaths have occurred in people >50 years old. All had a severe, significant illness prior to death.
- Infection doubling rate is 6-8 days, equating to approximately 10 weeks from point of undetected infection to exponential growth.
- Mortality rate 2-3%
- Transmission is from person to person via droplet, mucous membranes, faecal-oral and via fomites (doorknobs, tables, cutlery etc).
- Virus sheds in asymptomatic people (but no confirmation of transmission from asymptomatic patients in Australia, perhaps one case in North America).
- One infected person is estimated to potentially infect 2-4 other people.
- Incubation period 5-14 days (possibly longer).
- Illness peaks day 9-13 (with hospitalisation requirement evident by day 5).
- Virus survives for 48 hours on surfaces at room temperature.
- Healthcare staff caring for affected, isolated patients and those performing procedures on suspected/infected patients e.g. intubation or swab collection, should wear appropriate personal protection equipment. Local hospitals will have information on correct procedures for their use.
- Nasopharyngeal swab for PCR testing – very sensitive test now widely available. Serological blood specimens also being routinely collected for later use.
- There is no treatment for COVID-19.
- Vaccine development underway (including at the University of Queensland) but timeframe likely 12-18 months.
- Remain informed.
- Vigilance for potential cases i.e. patients with typical respiratory symptoms who in the last 2 weeks have been in China, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan (and other areas with the sustained person to person transmission has occurred) or have known contact with someone who has travelled to these areas.
- Upon presentation, to a health care setting of a person who is under quarantine or investigation or is a suspect case:
- Immediately give the patient a surgical mask and ensure they put it on correctly.
- Direct them to a single room, whether or not respiratory symptoms are present.
- If this is the first contact with a health care provider, contact the local public health unit or state/territory communicable disease branch for advice if you are uncertain about the need for testing.
- Promote flu vaccination in all eligible patients this year to reduce combined infections.
- PCR testing available at no cost to the patient, in an array of public and private pathology laboratories across the country.
- MBS funded general practitioner consultation for clearance to work if required (not mandatory after appropriate isolation and recovery).