Be Prepared for COVID-19: A Handy Guide

Taken from an article written by Dr Kat McLean, MBChB FRACGP FRNZCGP and Dr Wendy Burton MBBS FRACGP (Hon)


This advice is of a general nature only. For information specific to your needs, please ask your GP (information is being updated day by day)

If you are unwell and may have contracted COVID-19, please know that

1. GPs across Australia are working out how best to take care of you, while reducing the risk to others in our waiting rooms.

2. Most cases of Covid-19 are mild, and we will usually be able to give advice and organise testing over the phone, this may be in the GP clinic, or at another designated testing location.

3. Testing is being done at a variety of dedicated pathology labs or hospitals, and some GPs may be able to test in their clinics if they have an appropriate isolation area and access to the personal protective equipment (at Your Family Doctors we presently don’t have access to enough Personal Protective Equipment to safely provide this service)

4. Medicare does not pay for phone calls and while many GPs have been and are earning less while doing more to try and help, we cannot continue to pay our staff, overheads and ourselves if we don’t charge, there may come a time where you will be asked to pay a private fee for phone consultation

5. If you are feeling sick (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and have returned from overseas in the past 14 days, please call the surgery first, we will have a doctor assess you over the phone and advise the procedure to follow. You may be advised to go to the emergency department. In an Emergency call 000.

If you need testing:

1. Wearing a mask helps to reduce the risk of you passing on the infection when you leave the house

2. If you don’t have a mask at home, can someone get one for you? Perhaps from the GP clinic, pathologist or hospital? (Be aware that stocks are low, and they may have none to give)

3. PHONE the practice first so that testing can be coordinated, it may be more appropriate to get testing at a location other than the surgery – this will be determined on the phone

4. After the test you will be sent home to wait for the result (1-3 days)

5. It is important that you head straight home following any assessment or testing

6. If you are extremely unwell, you may be asked to go hospital

If you are WELL, but concerned you may have been exposed COVID-19

1. You may be advised to ‘self-quarantine’ for a period of time if you have potentially been in contact with a patient with COVID-19

2. Self-quarantine

  • is when healthy people who have been exposed to a contagious disease are separated from others
  • allows close monitoring with early testing and treatment should you become unwell
  • helps to slow the spread of disease

3. If you are asked to self-quarantine, public health will be in regular contact with you

4. You will need to stay at home or, if away from home, to stay in your accommodation or move to dedicated accommodation. Additional support will likely also be offered

5. If you are well, we cannot test you. The test is not likely to be positive and there is just not enough capacity in our health system to test well people

6. However, if you become unwell, please PHONE and testing will be organised

If you are UNWELL with COVID-19, or we suspect you may have COVID-19, you will need to isolate yourself for a period of time

1. Isolation is important as it helps to prevent or limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus

2. Isolation ‘puts the brakes’ on things and helps prevent a large number of people becoming unwell in a short period of time

3. This helps keep all of us safer

Plan ahead

How will you fill the time if you are sick or have to isolate yourself for 2 weeks?

While in quarantine

STAY HOME and USE THE PHONE to let others know if you need anything

1. See if you can work or study from home

2. If you have children, ask their school if they can complete schoolwork from home

3. Maintain connection with friends and family – there are so many options, including phoning a friend

4. Keep active – consider ways to do this from home e.g. spring clean or organise the house, download an exercise app, check out YouTube exercise or dance classes. Movement matters

5. Try to limit how much you follow the news, be aware that there are some weird suggestions out there and be mindful of the effect it can have upon children. Checking in once a day is enough!

6. Catch up on that series you’ve been meaning to read/listen to/watch

7. Dust off the board games and playing cards. Be creative

Don’t be scared. Be prepared.

Taken from an article written by Dr Kat McLean, MBChB FRACGP FRNZCGP and Dr Wendy Burton MBBS FRACGP (Hon)

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