Coronavirus (Covid-19) Updates and Useful Information
All information provided here is current from the 24/05/2020 but this may change given the rapidly evolving situation. We will endeavour to update information on a regular basis. The team at Victoria Harbour Medical Centre thank you for your understanding during this public health emergency.
If you think you have COVID-19 or you have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 first make a Telehealth appointment with one of our GPs to find out if you should get tested. COVID-19 testing is now recommended if you feel unwell with the following symptoms:
- fever / chills / sweats
- new onset respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or loss of sense of smell)
COVID-19 Information Hotlines
Both lines operate 24/7 and will connect you to a registered nurse if needed. For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.
COVID-19 Online Resources
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious respiratory illness caused by a new (novel) coronavirus. It is spread person-to-person from close contact with an infected person or from surfaces contaminated by a person with the infection. Given COVID-19 is a new disease there is no existing immunity in our community. This means that COVID-19 can spread widely and quickly. There is currently no vaccine available.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath. It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to show after a person has been infected. Most people will suffer only mild symptoms. Elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions may experience more severe symptoms.
What are the risk factors of COVID-19?
Anybody can get COVID-19 if they have had close contact with an infected person. Use this interactive tool to help you better understand your risk of COVID-19 and precautions you need to take based on your personal circumstances.
How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?
Social (physical) distancing and good hygiene can help reduce your risk of COVID-19 infection. Follow the standard precautions advised by the Victorian Department of Health and the Australian Government Department of Health. This is the best source of advice on how to keep yourself safe and will be updated daily.
Refer to current restricted activity directions issued by the Victorian Department of Health.
The COVIDSafe app can speeds up contacting people exposed to COVID-19. Further information on the COVIDSafe app can be found on the RACGP Fact Sheet or via the COVIDSafe app FAQs page. The Australian Government COVID-19 WhatsApp channel or the Coronavirus Australian app can also help keep you informed on the latest on Australia’s response to COVID-19.
What if I am patient at Victoria Harbour Medical Centre?
Our medical centre is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all patients and staff. We are here to help and have temporarily changed our service model to better manage your healthcare needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you are worried about symptoms of COVID-19 or any other type of health problem our GPs are still on hand to help.
Pre-screening questions will be asked when you book or attend an appointment. You will always be informed of your options when you make an appointment.
Infection prevention and control procedures have been enhanced. If you attend the medical centre:
- Pre-entry screening will be conducted – please read door signage and follow all instructions
- You must carry out hand hygiene using our hand sanitisation stations upon entry and exit
- Observe all waiting room patient alert signage and respect social (physical) distancing
- Reception screens and enhanced environmental cleaning and surface disinfection
- Spirometry (lung function testing) has been temporarily suspended
- Contactless payment will now only be accepted via EFTPOS
Booking an appointment
If you have risk factors for COVID-19 OR if you have respiratory symptoms you will first be offered a Telehealth phone consultation. During this phone consultation your GP will provide you with further advice. This advice may be to not attend our medical centre but to manage your symptoms at home OR to attend one of the COVID-19 screening clinics for COVID-19 assessment and testing.
You must CALL BEFORE attending our medical centre, especially if you:
- have a fever/chills OR
- have respiratory symptoms with or without fever/chills OR
- have been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR
- have been in close contact with someone who is awaiting results to confirm COVID-19 OR
- have had international travel in the last 14 days OR
- have been in close contact with a returned international traveller in the last 14 days
Telehealth consultations will help you access non-urgent but essential healthcare from your home. This will support social (physical) distancing, quarantine and self-isolation policies to reduce your risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread. Refer to this MBS Telehealth Fact Sheet or the RACGP Fact Sheet for more information about Telehealth.
Our GPs are currently offering Telehealth consultations via 15-minute phone appointments. Please note calls from your GP may come from a Private Number (No Caller ID). Your GP will call you as close as possible to your Telehealth appointment time. Make sure your phone is charged and that you are available to take the call in a quiet and private place. Your consent and identity will be confirmed by your GP before your consultation begins.
Common conditions appropriate for a Telehealth phone consultation include:
- COVID-19 related health questions
- Non-life threatening respiratory illness
- Referral letters
- Medical certificates
- Discussing test results
- Repeat prescription medication
- Repeat pathology investigations
- Minor illness which can be managed at home
- Routine PrEP and asymptomatic STI screening
- Mental health consultations including mental health care plans and psychology referrals
- Management of chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, COPD, blood pressure and heart disease
Your GP will discuss with you the most appropriate course of care and if a clinical in-person face-to-face appointment at the medical centre is needed.
Refer to our Patient Information section on our website regarding fees for this service.
What if you need COVID-19 testing?
The COVID-19 test is free for everyone. This includes people without a Medicare card, such as visitors from overseas, migrant workers and asylum seekers. Our medical centre is unable to offer routine COVID-19 testing due to a limited supply of personal protective equipment. The closest COVID-19 screening clinic to us is:
- The Royal Melbourne Hospital: 300 Grattan St, Parkville
- The Royal Children’s Hospital: 50 Flemington Rd, Parkville
Click here for a full list of COVID-19 assessment and testing centres in Victoria.
The test of choice in Australia looks for the COVID-19 virus from a swab which is collected from the back of your throat then nose. The test usually takes less than a minute. The swab is then sent to a laboratory. Test results can take up to 72 hours. Your doctor or the clinic where you were tested will contact you with your result. If you have been tested at a metropolitan retail testing site you can call the dedicated Onsite Doctor Results Hotline on (03) 8669 0255 if you have been waiting more than five days for results. This hotline operates Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm until the 5th June 2020.
You will need to self-isolate until you have your test result. If you test positive, whether or not you have symptoms, you will need to self-isolate. You will be contacted by a public health worker for advice on the next steps.
What does self-isolation and quarantine mean?
Information on self-isolation and quarantine is available here. Self-isolation and quarantine means staying at home or in your hotel room for 14 days. This is to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 to other people. This means:
- you do not leave your home or hotel room unless it is for medical care or it is an emergency
- you do not let visitors in – only people who usually live with you should be in your home
- you do not go to public places such as supermarkets, shopping centres or parks
- you do not go to work, childcare, school or university
- you do not use public transport including taxis or rideshare
Clearance medical certificates
There is currently no public health requirement for a clearance medical certificate to return to work, childcare, school or university. COVID-19 testing guidelines are set by the Department of Health. There is no current recommendation to test outside of these guidelines in the community. Therefore, a definitive clearance medical certificate for COVID-19 cannot be provided for people presenting with non-COVID-19 viral respiratory symptoms. For those who present with these symptoms, the current recommendation is to stay home until your symptoms fully resolve. We encourage employers to keep updated with current local public health guidelines found here. Information can also be found on the Department of Health website or the Fair Work website.
How do I get a prescription if I have a Telehealth consultation?
This fact sheet outlines how you can get your medicine if you are confined to home due to COVID-19.
Home medicines service
The Home Medicines Service is available for people in home isolation and for vulnerable patient groups who wish to limit their potential exposure to COVID-19 in the community. This service supports the use of home medicines delivery options available through pharmacies enabling patients to have their Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescriptions delivered to their home. For information about the Home Medicines Service click on this fact sheet.
Caring after your mental health
It is important to look after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you reside in the north, central or western Melbourne area, free professional counselling services are available via NWMPHN CAREinMIND. For additional resources refer to:
For people experiencing family violence
Information for people with a disability and their carers
COVID-19 information for Aboriginal communities
COVID-19 and people living with HIV
There is no evidence so far to suggest that people living with HIV, who are on effective anti-retroviral therapies with undetectable viral loads, are at increased risk of getting COVID-19 infection or developing severe disease. However, as HIV infection can result in suppression of the immune system and other comorbidities, people living with HIV should be considered a higher risk group than the general population. Older people living with HIV who have pre-existing medical conditions and advanced immunosuppression are likely to be more at risk. Refer to Thorne Harbour Health and the WHO website.
Translated news and information on COVID-19
Information for travellers arriving in Australia
Information for international travellers arriving in Australia is available here.
Information if you are considering travelling
Refer to the Smart Traveller website.
International COVID-19 updates
Expert Advice Matters
We encourage you to continue consulting your regular GP for any health matter. Safe in-person face-to-face consultations are still available. Refer to the RACGP Expert Advice Matters website for more information.