Currently, the world is dealing with a global pandemic caused by a virus called Covid-19 or a new or ‘novel’ Coronavirus. A pandemic occurs when a new contagious disease emerges, that no-one has immunity to and it is spread across the globe. Covid-19 is in Australia and cases are increasing very quickly. It is really important that we all listen to the advice of experts and follow restrictions imposed by the Chief Health Officer – such as the cancellation of big events, and the home isolation of returned overseas travellers.
We thought it would be good to let you know what’s happening at our level, to keep us all healthy and well. There are a lot of children who come through the practice. We love their smiley little faces. Where we have said “you” below, we also mean your kids. There is a lot being said about children not being effected by Covid-19, but this really does involve us all.
How could it effect you?
In the main, Covid-19 causes mild cold and flu symptoms, or no symptoms at all. Its key symptoms are fever and sore throat, but you could also have a cough, headache, aches and pains & diarrhoea.
Covid-19 is a potentially deadly disease to those who are older, particularly over 80, or who have other medical conditions. If you have asthma, COPD, other chronic lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer or smoke, you are particularly at risk.
How is it transmitted?
Covid-19 is transmitted by droplets that are released into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be acquired by touching a surface that is contaminated with droplets, and then putting your hand to your face. It is extremely helpful to WASH YOUR HANDS regularly.
When you cough or sneeze, droplets can travel for up to 1.5 metres. Please keep a distance between you and others if you are coughing or sneezing. It’s really helpful if you are sick to wear a mask and always COVER YOUR MOUTH AND NOSE WHEN YOU SNEEZE.
What should I do if I think I have been exposed to Covid-19 or I have returned from overseas and have cold and flu symptoms or a fever?
If you have had close contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19 or you have returned from overseas and have fever and respiratory symptoms, you should phone the practice for advice.
You will be asked to remain in your car or outside the waiting room until the doctor is ready to see you. You will be required to wear a mask. One will be provided if you do not have one. Please remember we have very limited supply.
When the doctor is ready, you will be met at your car, or seen in an isolation room whichever is available at the time. You will be given information regarding testing, and you are required to self-isolate, at home, until the test result is back. If you are very unwell, you may need to present to hospital.
If you aren’t able to comply with these requests, we aren’t able to see you.
What should I do if I have cold or flu symptoms?
If you have cold and flu symptoms, but have no confirmed contact or travel history, you should treat your symptoms in the same way as you would usually, with an additional degree of attention to preventing spread.
If you would usually come to the doctor because of your symptoms, you should do that. If you have mild symptoms that you would usually manage at home, you do not need to come to the doctor as a precaution.
Because all colds and flu’s are viral infections, there is limited medical treatment and antibiotics do not help uncomplicated cases. Our immune system does the heavy lifting here, so rest and fluids will help most. Paracetamol, and other cold and flu remedies, can help you feel better but will not shorten the duration of your illness.
You should come to see the doctor if you are worried, if you have other medical conditions, you have trouble breathing, high fevers, severe headache, severe ear or throat pain.
If you come, it would be ideal to wear a mask, if you have one. We have very limited supply, but may be able to supply you with one. You are also welcome to wait in your car or outside, and phone to let us know you have arrived.
You may even qualify for a telehealth consultation, please call reception for further information.
Why can’t everyone with a cold or flu be tested?
There is a worldwide shortage of testing kits. If we do unnecessary tests, we will not be able to identify cases when it counts.
Currently, the only people who should be tested are people with fever and cold and flu symptoms, who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; and any health care worker with symptoms of pneumonia.
What is our practice doing to keep us all safe?
Like you, we don’t want to get sick. So, we are all pulling together to get through this. However, we are also trying to keep things very much business as usual. People have been coming to the doctor with colds and flu’s since doctors first opened their doors. We are happy to continue seeing patients that are sick and for other routine and preventive health care.
Saying that, it is vital that we limit the spread of respiratory illness during this period. We are being extra vigilant with cleaning surfaces in the waiting room. You will notice our toys, books and magazines have been retired for the time being. You are welcome to bring your own reading material and toys for your own children (NB: Sharing is not caring at the moment!).
If you have cold and flu symptoms, it is ideal to wear a mask when out in public. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, dispose of tissues after one use, and wash your hands. It’s helpful to try and keep a distance between you and others. 1.5 metres is great. You are also able to wait in your car or outside the waiting room, and notify us that you have arrived. We are happy to call you straight through to see the doctor.
The decision to stay home from work, or keep children from school or day care, isn’t clear cut. Your child’s school or day care will advise you, but in general children who are sick, coughing or sneezing, should not go to school. If you are coughing or sneezing, you should avoid public spaces as much as possible.
I’m still really worried…….
It’s totally understandable to feel worried. If you have questions or concerns, please call or make an appointment. You are welcome to wait outside the waiting room, no matter what the reason for your visit if you feel more comfortable. Please remember that if you are starting to feel very anxious or developing worries that seem out of proportion with what’s happening, we are here to help you.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands frequently
- Stay home if you are sick
- Phone ahead if unsure – 07 3914 2188 or 13 HEALTH
- You may also call the dedicated National Coronavirus Health line for advice on 1800 020 080
- Things are changing all the time, be cautious and patient
- Our reception staff are doing an amazing job in tough times
- Be kind to yourself and each other
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Blog by Dr Bernadette Nixon