Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for GPs


You can find all RACGP COVID-19 resources in a central location on the RACGP website. For vaccine information visit the COVID-19 vacccine information for GPs webpage.

The information on this page was last updated on Wednesday 15 September 2021, 3.00 pm AEST.
Recent updates include:

For local information, see your state or territory department of health website. 

Access specific information for your state or territory



Current Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots are defined on the Department of Health website.
 

Accessing PPE in Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots

General practices in Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots can access personal protective equipment (PPE) from the National Medical Stockpile via their local Primary Health Network (PHN).

Contact your PHN to request PPE. 

 

Telehealth in Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots

Telehealth ‘existing relationship’ rule – Exemption for Commonwealth-declared hotspots

People living in hotspots who wish to access MBS-subsidised telehealth are exempt from the requirement to have seen their GP face to face in the last 12 months.

Visit this page for more information.
 

Longer telephone consultations reinstated in COVID-19 hotspots

Medicare-supported telephone consultations lasting more than 20 minutes are again available to people in Commonwealth-declared COVID-19 hotspots.

MBS rebates for Level C telephone consultations with a GP took effect on Friday 16 July. A new MBS item was introduced for a phone attendance by a GP lasting at least 20 minutes, if the service is performed for a person who is in:

  • a COVID-19 Commonwealth-declared hotspot
  • COVID-19 isolation or quarantine because of a state or territory public health order.

The item is equivalent to MBS items for Level C attendances conducted face to face or via video conference, with a rebate of $75.75. An MBS item for Level C phone attendances by other medical practitioners is also available. 

Visit MSB Online for more information

GPs should treat and test suspected COVID-19 patients in line with the advice from their local public health unit.  
Practices should not conduct consultations or carry out testing on suspected patients if they do not have the appropriate PPE.  Refer these patients to a local GP-led respiratory clinic or testing centre. 


Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the context of COVID-19 was released by the Department of Health on 10 June 2021. The recommendations were developed with advice from the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Infection Prevention and Control Panel (IPC Panel) . The Taskforce have developed a new decision aid to help you determine the most appropriate respiratory and eye protection. 


Initial assessment

Consider initial screening of patients via a phone or video consultation using the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce flowchart: Assessment for suspected COVID-19 (V4 Published 1 July 2021).   

Only follow up with a face-to-face assessment if a diagnosis of moderate or severe illness cannot be confidently excluded via telehealth assessment. Patients who meet the criteria and who require a face-to-face consultation, should be asked not to enter the practice until precautions are put in place. NB: Patients with severe symptoms suggestive of pneumonia should be managed in hospital. 

Further assessment and the use of PPE

Upon presentation of a person who is under quarantine or investigation, is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or has respiratory symptoms:

Specimen collection

Collect the specimen as as per the COVID-19 swab collection: Upper respiratory specimen infographic
  • To collect upper respiratory swabs, stand slightly to the side of the patient to avoid exposure to respiratory secretions, should the patient cough or sneeze.
  • Encourage the patient to maintain a slow breathing pattern and not hold the breath as this reduces the likelihood of gagging.
Self-collection of a nasal swab is acceptable, with appropriate supervision by a healthcare worker.


For a detailed description of methods of specimen collection for diagnosis of COVID-19 see: Public Health Laboratory Network guidance on laboratory testing for SARS-CoV-2

At the conclusion of the consultation

  • Remove PPE and perform hand hygiene
  • Room surfaces should be wiped with detergent/disinfectant by a person wearing gloves, surgical mask and eye protection.
  • Note that, for droplet precautions, a negative pressure room is not required and the room does not need to be left empty after sample collection.
 

If GPs and practice staff have worn PPE when dealing with a patient who is then confirmed as having the virus this is not considered a close contact so self isolation for 14 days is not required. 
 



The Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) National Guidelines for Public Health Units define confirmed, historical and suspected cases.

Please note that some states and territories have implemented different criteria. Please see your state of territory department of health guidance for further confirmation.


The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, of which the RACGP is a collaborating partner, has living guidelines on the management of adults with mild COVID-19. 

Access the clinical flowcharts for:

See all living guidelines.

The RACGP has develoved Home-care guidelines for adult patients with mild COVID-19 to help you support patients who test positive for COVID-19 in their home. A guide, action plan and symptom diary is available to share with patients.

You can also access the Caring for adult patients with post-COVID-19 conditions resource.
 

Restrictions on prescribing oral ivermectin

New restrictions on the prescribing of oral ivermectin are now in place following TGA concerns about the medicine being prescribed for prevention or treatment of COVID-19.

GPs are now only able to prescribe ivermectin for TGA-approved indications, such as scabies and certain parasitic infections.

Ivermectin is not approved for the treatment of COVID-19, and the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has issued a strong recommendation against the its use outside of randomised trials. Read the frequently asked questions on the taskforce’s recommendation.
 

Telehealth consultations requiring an interpreter:

The RACGP has released a guide to support GPs conduct telehealth consultations with patients requiring an interpreter

The Australian Government’s Translation and Interpreting Service (TIS) has a Doctor’s Priority Line, and as a GP you are eligible for a free TIS code. If not already registered, general practices can register by calling 1300 131 450 or by visiting the TIS website
 

Resources for GPs:

 

National multilingual resources:

  • Maridulu Budyari Gumal SPHERE – 36 multilingual fact sheets containing medical advice and instructions during COVID-19 covering Arthritis, Asthma, Cardiovascular Health, Diabetes and Stroke translated into Arabic, Chinese, Chinese (Standard and Simplified), Greek, Italian and Vietnamese
  • Etholink Information in your language - translated information from federal, state, territory and local government and the World Health Organization
  • SBS Coronavirus information in your language – news and information about COVID-19 in 63 languages
  • Department of Home Affairs COVID-19 in your language – information on the current outbreak in multiple languages
  • Department of Health Translated resources – fact sheets and posters on the current outbreak in multiple languages
  • MyAus COVID-19 App – a multilingual resource for CALD communities on COVID-19 and available supports
 

State and territory multilingual resources:

New South Wales:

Queensland:

Victoria:

The RACGP has compiled a summary of links to information and resources to support people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

Guidelines for the rights of people with disability during COVID-19

Guidelines have been developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission to support the rights of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The guidelines are designed to assist healthcare, disability services and support workers to take a human rights-based approach to decision-making during the pandemic. 

COVID-19 Health Professionals National Disability Advisory Service

GPs and other health professionals caring people with disability can now access a telephone advisory service being piloted to provide specialised clinical advice during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The COVID-19 Health Professionals National Disability Advisory Service (managed by Healthdirect Australia on behalf of the Australian Department of Health) provides specialised advice regarding the care of a person with disability diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Some people with disability may require reasonable adjustments to their healthcare to ensure they receive, either COVID-19 testing or treatment, with minimum distress. The Advisory Service can provide specific support required to address communication and management issues, such as behaviours of concern and the reduction of risk to the patient and staff involved in the process.

The Advisory Service is staffed by health professionals with disability service qualifications and experience working with people with disability. To access the service call 1800 131 330. The service is available between 7.00 am - 11.00 pm (AEST) seven days a week. 
 

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

 

NSW and Victoria NDIS participants can claim for personal protective equipment (PPE)

Victoria and NSW NDIS participants can recover the cost of purchasing PPE items if they receive an average of at least one hour a day of face-to-face daily living support. Previously, only participants who used PPE as a regular part of their support arrangements were able to access PPE through their NDIS funds.
Further information
 

Australian Government information/resources

 

Disability organisations

Disability service providers

 

 

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) resources

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) are leading a COVID-19 Taskforce (the Taskforce) which includes government and member representatives.

It is recommended that members monitor the NACCHO Coronavirus site for updates and subscribe to the NACCHO Communique for the latest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector news and information on COVID-19.


Recommendations for healthcare teams supporting prevention and management of COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The RACGP, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), Lowitja Institute and Australian National University (ANU) are working together to develop a series of rolling, evidence-based recommendations to assist healthcare teams with the prevention and management of COVID-19 in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and other primary care settings.

The guidance is available now through NACCHO’s online COVID-19 information hub and includes:


Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) resources

Access to information and resources from the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) from the AIDA website.   

AIDA are conducting twice-weekly peer support forums for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors. Please contact communications@aida.org.au for log-in details. 

 

Department of health resources

The Department of Health have released Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and remote communities.
 

Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations

The ‘Management Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Populations’ has been developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Advisory Group on COVID-19 and endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

The Management Plan outlines key issues and considerations in planning, response and management of COVID-19 that need to be addressed at all levels of governance, in collaboration with key partners and stakeholders, including impacted communities.
 

Caring for yourself

During events such as the current coronavirus situation, additional pressure may be placed on GPs and practice staff as frontline workers through increased patient attendance to the practice, responding to fear and anxiety amidst the community and staying up to date as the situation evolves.

It is important during such times that GPs and practice staff take time to care for themselves and take the opportunity to debrief with colleagues. If you require additional support, services are available, specifically developed for doctors.
 

The Essential Network (TEN) for frontline workers

This new online e-mental health hub, developed by the Black Dog Institute, connects frontline healthcare workers with services to cope with the stress of the ongoing pandemic.   
 

DRS4DRS

You can also access support via the DRS4DRS website and state/territory based helplines. DRS4DRS is an independent program providing confidential support and resources to doctors and medical students across Australia, by doctors. Confidential phone advice is available 24/7 for any doctor or medical student in Australia via each state/territory helpline and referral service.
 

RACGP GP Support Program

Should you need support, don't hesitate to contact the RACGP GP Support Program. This is a free and confidential psychological support service available to all members, delivered by LifeWorks by Morneau Shepell. Access the service by calling 1300 361 008 (24 hours/7 days).
 

Immediate 24/7 supports

Beyond Blue Support Service - 1300 22 4636
Lifeline Crisis Support - 13 11 14
 

Providing mental health and wellbeing support to your patients

 

GPs play a critical role in the ongoing mental health and wellness of their patients. 

The General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) has collated important information to help you support and care for the mental health and wellbeing of your patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes:

  • Mental health resources - resources, factsheets and guides
  • Telehealth consultations - information on MBS item numbers for the provision of telehealth (videoconferencing and phone) consultations by GPs with and without mental health training.

 

Aged Care COVID-19 Grief and Bereavement Service

Do you or your practice provide care in residential aged care or for home care recipients?

Aged care residents, home care recipients, their families, loved ones and staff affected by loss or trauma as a result of COVID-19 can now access free grief, loss and bereavement support services.

Tailored, easy-to-access support is available via the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement, including in-person help when possible.

Call 1800 222 220 or visit the Aged Care COVID-19 Grief and Bereavement Service website for help, or to download the MyGrief app. All services are inclusive, confidential, and eligible for the Translating and Interpreting Service and Auslan.
 

 

 

RACGP COVID-19 resources

You can now find all RACGP COVID-19 resources in one centralised location on the RACGP website. These resources cover:


National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce resources

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce (of which the RACGP is a member) supports Australia’s healthcare professionals with continually updated, evidence-based clinical guidelines and resources. 

These include:

You can also access frequently asked questions on the use of certain medications in the context of COVID-19 including hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin
 

CPR during the pandemic

The National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce (of which the RACGP is a member), in partnership with the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG), have published clinical flowcharts to guide clinicians and trained first aid responders in delivering potentially lifesaving CPR as safely as possible.

 

The John Murtagh Library: COVID-19 evidence and research resources

The John Murtagh Library has curated some resources on COVID-19 to help you find reliable evidence and research literature. These resources include evidence summaries, updated ebooks and texts, ‘live’ literature search links, research portals, and more.  

Access the library's COVID-19 subject portal

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