Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19

Patient results and notification

GPs might become aware of one of their patients being diagnosed with COVID-19 through the receipt of:

  • notification by the patient or their carer following a positive at-home rapid antigen test (RAT)
  • a positive result following GP-initiated testing
  • notification from the local public health unit/state or territory Department of Health after testing initiated by another agency
  • a local health service seeking to arrange home-based care
  • discharge notification regarding a patient hospitalised with COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a notifiable disease in all states and territories. Pathology providers who process the SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal testing are responsible for notifying the local public health unit (or relevant authority) of a positive result. The methods of notification of a positive result to a patient and their GP vary significantly across states and local services. 

Where a patient notifies the practice of a positive result, the patient or their carer should be educated on how to report the positive result. If the patient or their carer is unable to make the report, this can be done on their behalf by the practice (or another individual at their request).

State / Territory Reporting process
Australian Capital Territory Register online or by calling 02 5124 6500
New South Wales Register online or by calling 1800 490 484
Northern Territory Register online or by calling 1800 490 484
Queensland Register online or by calling 13 42 68
South Australia Register online or by calling 1800 253 787
Tasmania Register online or by calling 1800 671 738
Victoria Register online or by calling 1800 675 398 
Western Australia Register online or by calling 13 268 43

Patients might be distressed when they test positive to COVID-19.

Delivering, or providing counselling for, a positive COVID-19 test result should be undertaken in a similar manner to delivering other bad news – by building rapport and using clear and empathic communication.

Investigate the meaning of a positive diagnosis for your patient and their household to manage your patient and their potential close contacts.

For patients with a trauma or custodial history, the need to isolate could trigger significant mental distress. A trusted therapeutic relationship and a sensitive explanation of the reasons behind isolation are important when engaging with these patients.4

Mental health support is available through the National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080), Head to Health and local channels.

If an interpreter is required for consultations, practices can use the Australian Government’s Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) Doctors Priority Line. GPs are eligible for a free TIS code. If not already registered, call 1300 131 450 or visit the TIS website. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed a fact sheet to provide guidance on, and support with, providing telehealth consultations with patients who require an interpreter.