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Coronavirus (COVID 19) : Advice for General Practitioners

Testing for novel Coronavirus (COVID 19) is indicated for patients who have:
• Travelled to (including transit through) mainland China in the 14 days before the onset of illness OR
• Have had contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of Coronavirus (COVID 19) AND
• Presented with fever OR acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath or cough)
Contact your local pathology collection service to check they are able to take specimens from mildly unwell patients. Sicker patients should be referred to the local ED, but call ahead.
Situation update:
• Most Coronavirus (COVID 19) cases have been in China, mainly in Hubei Province but increasingly in other provinces
• Infection can cause severe acute respiratory illnesses, but there is a spectrum of disease
When a patient with suspected Coronavirus (COVID 19) infection presents:
• Ask them to wear a surgical mask and place them in a separate room
• Notify your public health unit if they are very unwell
Arrange Coronavirus (COVID 19) testing:
• In patients who meet the case definition above
• Private pathology companies are building capacity to take specimens from patients suspected to have Coronavirus (COVID 19) referred by their GP. To arrange testing:
- refer the patient to the local pathology collection service, but first check to see if Coronavirus (COVID 19) testing is currently available there
- request Coronavirus (COVID 19) testing and screening for routine respiratory pathogens
- ensure the patient’s travel history, symptoms and date of onset of symptoms is noted on the laboratory request form
- if your local service cannot collect the samples, refer the patient to their local emergency department, but call ahead so the ED can prepare-provide the patient with a surgical maskto wear to the collection centre or ED
• Very unwell patients (e.g. shortness of breath or severe cough) should be referred to the local ED
If taking samples on patients with mild symptoms:
• Use standard, contact and droplet transmission precautions: long sleeved gown, gloves, protective eye wear/face shield, and surgical mask
• Recommended specimens are:
- two combined nose and throat viral swabs, or nasopharyngeal viral swabs
- lower respiratory specimen (sputum) if obtainable
• As for other pathology test requests, you are responsible for informing the patient about their test results
Advice to patients about home isolation
• Patients must self isolate until they have received their Coronavirus (COVID 19) test result
• Provide them with a face mask and a fact sheet on home isolation
• If you have concerns about the ability of a patient to self-isolate, for example if the patient lives in a residential facility, please call your public health unit

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