Coronavirus (Covid-19) Updates and Useful Information

All information provided here is current from the 04/08/2020 but this may change given the rapidly evolving situation.  The team at Victoria Harbour Medical Centre will endeavour to update information on a regular basis and thank you for your understanding.

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 how you should get tested. 

COVID-19 testing is now recommended if you feel unwell with the following symptoms:

  • fever / chills / sweats

OR

  • new onset respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or loss of smell or taste)

You can make a Telehealth appointment with us online or by calling the medical centre on (03) 9629 1414.  If you need urgent medical care always call Emergency 000 (Triple Zero).

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 Testing

Click here for a list of COVID-19 assessment and testing centres in Victoria.

Refer to “What if you need COVID-19 testing?” link below.

Coronavirus worker support payment

Click here for information about how to access financial support if you are a Victorian worker who is self-isolating or quarantining.

Face masks and face coverings 

Please wear a face mask when attending the medical centre.

Face coverings are now mandatory whenever you leave home – wherever you live in Victoria.  This is because of the higher number of COVID-19 cases currently occurring due to community transmission.

All adults and children aged 12 years or older are now required to wear a face covering when leaving home unless you have a lawful reason for not doing so.  A face covering needs to cover both your nose and mouth.  It could be a face mask or shield.  Even with a mask, you should keep 1.5M distance between you and others.  Click here for important information from the Victorian Department of Health about face coverings or refer to our Clinic News.

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 to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread ?

  • Stay home if you are unwell.
  • Wear a face covering if you leave home.
  • Good hygiene like coughing and sneezing into a tissue or your elbow and regular hand washing.
  • Social (physical) distancing like keeping at least 1.5M distance between yourself and other people.
  • If you have a COVID-19 swab test go straight home and stay at home until you have your test results.

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.

Face coverings are now mandatory whenever you leave home – wherever you live in Victoria.  This is because of the higher number of COVID-19 cases currently occurring due to community transmission.  If you are aged 12 years or older, it is now mandatory that you wear a face covering when you leave home.

Refer to current restricted activity directions issued by the Victorian Department of Health.

The COVIDSafe app can speed up contacting people exposed to COVID-19.  For information on the COVIDSafe app go to the RACGP Fact Sheet or 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.  Dorevitch Pathology collection services remain open.

Safe in-person (face-to-face) appointments or Telehealth phone appointments are available.  Book an appointment online or by calling the medical centre on (03) 9629 1414

It is now a Department of Health requirement that you wear a face mask when attending the medical centre.

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.

Our already strict infection prevention and infection control procedures have been enhanced with more frequent environmental cleaning and surface disinfection.  Please observe all patient alert signage.  Aerosol generating procedures eg: spirometry (lung function testing) have been temporarily suspended.  Other changes you may notice include:

  • Pre-entry screening: Read door signage and follow instructions
  • Hand sanitisation stations: Perform hand hygiene upon entry/exit
  • Reception: Screens are in place to help safeguard you and our team
  • No cash payment: Contactless payment only accepted via EFTPOS
  • Waiting room: Spaced seating. Magazines and toys have been removed
  • Physical distancing: Respect the space around you and keep 1.5M apart from others
  • Face Masks & PPE: All staff will be wearing face masks and other approved PPE when needed

Booking an appointment

You can do this online or by calling reception during business hours on (03) 9629 1414.

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/sweats OR
  • have respiratory symptoms with or without fever/chills/sweats 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

You can book a Telehealth phone consultation online or by calling reception team on (03) 9629 1414.

Telehealth phone 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 phone 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 investigation requests
  • 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?

Click here for a list of COVID-19 assessment and testing centres in Victoria.

Remember, you must GO HOME immediately after your test and self-isolate until you have your test result. You must wear a face covering on your way home.

Our medical centre is unable to offer routine COVID-19 testing due to a limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).  The closest COVID-19 hospital screening clinic to us is:

If you have a Medicare card there is no fee for the test at a public health facility, mobile testing centre or a GP clinic offering bulk billing pathology.

If you do not have a Medicare card (visitors from overseas, migrant workers and asylum seekers) and you choose to have a test collected at our medical centre Dorevitch Pathology will charge you a fee.  However, if you have symptoms, you can receive a free test at any of the following Victorian locations:

  • A Hospital Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Assessment Clinic
  • A Community Health Centre Respiratory Assessment Clinic
  • A mobile drive-through clinic in a retail setting
  • A regional walk-through clinic

COVID-19 testing clinics will ask you for a form of identification and contact details.  If you don’t have a Medicare card, please bring one form of identification (eg: driver’s licence, passport, transport concession card or student ID).  The testing clinic does not need to know your visa status.

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.  You must to GO HOME and self-isolate until you have your test result.   If you test positive for COVID-19, whether or not you have symptoms, you need to self-isolate.  You will be contacted by a public health worker for advice on the next steps.

If you have been tested at a drive-through testing site and have been waiting more than five days for your result, please call the dedicated Onsite Doctor Results Hotline on (03) 8669 0255. This hotline operates Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm, for as long as there are drive-through testing sites operating.

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

Click here for information about how to access financial support if you are a Victorian worker who is self-isolating or quarantining.

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 24/7 professional counselling services are available via CAREinMIND

For urgent help 24/7 call:

If you are experiencing an emergency always call 000.

Click here for a full list of mental health support services listed on our Clinic News.

For people experiencing family violence

If you are experiencing family violence or know someone who is experiencing family violence refer to Safe Steps or call 24/7 the family violence response phone line on 1800 015 188.

Information for people with a disability and their carers

Information and considerations specific to people with a disability and people caring for them is available here.  You can also refer to the NDIS.

COVID-19 information for Aboriginal communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are considered at higher risk for COVID-19, making it even more important to get tested – even if there are only mild symptoms.  We encourage you to click on the links to check out the messages encouraging COVID-19 testing for the Victorian Aboriginal community:

Refer to the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) COVID-19 info hub here.

You can also refer to the Victorian Department of Health resources here or the Australian Department of Health resources here.

Supporting older people during COVID-19

Older people are at greater risk of more serious illness from COVID-19, so it is important for them to take extra steps to protect themselves.  Find more information on support services for your older patients on the Department of Health website.

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

For translated resources to support culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities during COVID-19 refer to these links:

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

Available via the WHO website. The WHO includes a Myth Busters section which may assist in addressing misinformation about COVID-19.

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.

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