18 Mar COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH ALERT NO.5
The Queensland Government has just released a public Health Alert for GPs:
Current modelling suggests that up to 25% of the Queensland population will contract COVID-19 in the next six months. It is estimated that 80% of these people will get mild symptoms. However, 20% will develop more severe symptoms, up to 1% will die.
There is a world-wide shortage of pathology consumables and the following testing advice is in place.
- COVID-19 testing should only occur if a person:
- Has fever OR acute respiratory symptoms; AND
* travelled overseas within the previous 14 days, OR
* had recent close contact (previous 14 days) with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Has severe community-acquired pneumonia requiring admission with no other identifiable cause.
- Is a health care worker with direct patient contact has a fever (>37.5) AND an acute respiratory infection (shortness of health, cough and/or sore throat)
- Patients who present with minor upper respiratory symptoms, who do not meet the above criteria, should NOT be tested for COVID-19.
- Health care workers with minor upper respiratory symptoms, who do not meet the criteria for testing, should remain at home until their symptoms resolve, at which point they can return to work.
- A full respiratory virus panel test should only be requested in assessment of vulnerable immunocompromised patients.
- If a patient is in self-quarantine and remains well, there is no benefit in testing. A negative test result will not shorten the quarantine period as tests will remain negative until the person develops infection. This may take up to 14 days.
- If the clinician has a strong index of suspicion of COVID-19 and a positive case would have significant public health implication (e.g. an index case in a RCF) then testing outside the case definition may be considered.
Interim advice has been released for Residential Care Facilities. See CDNA National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities in Australia available at https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidelines-for-outbreaks-in-residential-care-facilities
For the latest version of the CDNA National Guidelines for public health units, visit https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/cdna-song-novel-coronavirus.htm
For more information on infection prevention and control guidelines, PPE and how to assess and manage patients with suspected COVID-19, visit https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/novel-coronavirus-qld-clinicians
Dr Heidi Carroll, Public Health Incident Controller
Communicable Diseases Branch Incident Management Team