COVID-19

The Australian Medical Association (WA) has always put the health of our community first. Our stand on COVID-19 has been no different.

The AMA (WA) is working for the community and is at the forefront of action to contain and manage the spread of COVID-19.

Our doctors are working with government and other experts to provide guidance and strategic advice supporting our health workforce and the community at large.

It is at times like these that AMA (WA) members play a crucial role as trusted sources of information and care.

The AMA (WA), led by President Dr Andrew Miller, will continue to help guide Western Australia as we respond to COVID-19.

The situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve and advice is subject to change at short notice. We strongly recommend all members continue to visit the WA Health COVID-19 website for the most recent updates.

All medical practitioners should regularly check for the most up-to-date clinical guidance, which can be found at: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus/COVID-19-clinical-alerts

Clive Palmer should ‘read the room’ over legal challenge to WA’s coronavirus hard border, doctors say – ABC News – 31 July 2020

Doctors warn it’s just a matter of time before a coronavirus outbreak hits WA – 7 News – 30 July 2020

FIFO worker travel bubbles – The West Live – 20 July 2020

Coronavirus: WA ‘healthy paranoia’ has lessons for whole country, says top doctor – 9 News – 10 July 2020

AMA WA President says Victoria “as dangerous” as any other country – 6PR – 6 July 2020

AMA WA president Andrew Miller tells WA not ‘drop the ball’ as COVID-19 restrictions ease – The West Australian – 9 June 2020

“The community is getting a wake up call with what it would be like if we didn’t have vaccines” – 6PR – 26 May 2020

Doctors’ lobby warns on social distance, hygiene – The West Australian – 15 May 2020

WA doctors call for more community spread testing as COVID-19 restrictions lift – WAtoday – 10 May 2020

‘There’s a lot of touching and hugging in football’: Top WA medico slam dunks AFL – WAtoday – 8 May 2020

‘Vulnerable’ regions should remain off-limits to Perth travellers: AMA –  WAtoday –  7 May 2020

Social distancing ‘will become a way of life in Australia’ in the future – Sky News Australia – 6 May 2020

Mining companies keen to drive widespread testing and research for coronavirus –  ABC News – 1 May 2020

WA urged to boost testing as Premier takes swipe at NSW – Australian Financial Review – 27 April 2020

Connections, nimble strategy key for sourcing China’s PPE – Business News – 20 April 2020

Dr Andrew Miller discusses COVID-19, mental health, PPE and more – The West Live – 16 April 2020

Doctors say ‘clock is ticking’ to prepare WA’s regional hospitals to deal with further COVID-19 outbreaks – ABC – 15 April 2020

It’s time to start talking about which, if any, restrictions could be lifted in WA – 6PR – 13 April 2020

Flu Vaccine – 6PR – 10 April 2020

WA preparing well: AMA – Business News – 7 April 2020

‘Morale boosting’ PPE worth millions arrives in Perth to protect frontline workers – WAtoday – 6 April 2020

Dr Andrew Miller, “Thanks For The Love & Support, We Will Repay That In Spades In The Coming Months” – Mix 94.5 – 1 April 2020

Doctors back private hospitals over WA cruise ship fiasco – WAtoday – 31 March 2020

Govt must step up as ‘morale on the frontline is terrible’ – Sky News Australia – 31 March 2020

Flashpoint – Channel 7 – 30 March 2020

Pandemic: The fight to contain coronavirus – ABC Four Corners – 30 March 2020

COVID-19 cruise patients to Joondalup Hospital – Business News – 30 March 2020

Coronavirus Australia: Doctors’ desperate plea over ‘out of control’ virus – news.com.au – 23 March 2020

AMA (WA) President slams government response to coronavirus, calls for schools to close – 9News – 19 March 2020

Exclusive – Doctor of explosive letter to Government – The West Live Podcast – 17 March 2020

‘Politicians need to leave coronavirus treatment to the doctors’ – Sky News Australia – 11 March 2020

Coronavirus crisis: WA schools will close according to Australian Medical Association (WA) president Andrew Miller – The West Australian – 10 March 2020

Tens of thousands could be hospitalised with coronavirus in WA – 6PR – 28 February 2020

 

WA Health provides up-to-date COVID-19 information for health professionals.

We recommend you review the most up-to-date clinical alerts, testing criteria and clinical guidelines on a regular basis. All medical practitioners should regularly check for the most up-to-date clinical guidance which can be found at: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/en/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus/COVID19-information-for-health-professionals

As at 14 July, new information relating to testing is available. Please refer to the Clinician Alert #29: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/-/media/Corp/Documents/Health-for/Infectious-disease/COVID19/COVID19-Clinician-Alert-WA-29-14-July.pdf 

As at 27 March 2020, COVID-19 testing is ONLY to be done at COVID clinics in metropolitan Perth. In country areas, testing can only be undertaken by hospitals, COVID clinics, health centres and remote health clinics operated by the WA Country Health Service, Silver Chain, Aboriginal Medical Services or RFDS.

The AMA (WA) continues to lobby Federal and WA governments on your behalf to:

  • to further expand telehealth under the Medicare Benefits Schedule;
  • expedite COVID-19 testing for health professionals; and
  • expand the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to GP clinics

Useful resources for Private Practice dealing with the fallout from COVID-19:

The Australian Government’s economic response to coronavirus (ATO)

Economic response to coronavirus – Early release of superannuation (ATO)

Support measures to assist those affected by COVID-19 (ATO)

Economic Response to the Coronavirus – Cash flow assistance for businesses (The Treasury)

Supporting Australian workers and business (Prime Minister of Australia)

Economic Stimulus Package (Prime Minister of Australia)

What the Australian government’s $17bn coronavirus stimulus package means for you (The Guardian)

Banks announce Small Business Relief Package (Australian Banking Association)

Australian Banking Association small business relief package (ACCC)

Majors detail their COVID-19 support packages (Australian Broker)

Guide to The JobKeeper Scheme April 2020 (Workplace Express)

JobKeeper Package – Questions and Answers (Tax & Super Australia)

COVID-19 Stimulus Package – Technical Team Special Commentary (Tax & Super Australia)

COVID-19 Communication – Summary of Changes

24 April 2020 – PIP and WIP – Updated COVID-19 Business Continuity Arrangements

 

The AMA (WA) has prepared a number of resources for GPs managing COVID-19 which AMA (WA) members can access below:

The AMA (WA) recognises the unique challenges faced by doctors working in Private Practice. PPE shortages, limited access to telehealth items and the prospect of a dramatic reduction in clinical activity with all elective surgery (outside urgent electives) in both public and private health systems being postponed, means many Private Practices face difficult decisions in relation to how they continue to operate.

The AMA (WA) continues to advocate on behalf of private practice, and supports WA’s private health system.

Useful resources for Private Practice dealing with the fallout from COVID-19:

The Australian Government’s economic response to coronavirus (ATO)

Economic response to coronavirus – Early release of superannuation (ATO)

Support measures to assist those affected by COVID-19 (ATO)

Economic Response to the Coronavirus – Cash flow assistance for businesses (The Treasury)

Supporting Australian workers and business (Prime Minister of Australia)

Economic Stimulus Package (Prime Minister of Australia)

What the Australian government’s $17bn coronavirus stimulus package means for you (The Guardian)

Banks announce Small Business Relief Package (Australian Banking Association)

Australian Banking Association small business relief package (ACCC)

Majors detail their COVID-19 support packages (Australian Broker)

Guide to The JobKeeper Scheme April 2020 (Workplace Express)

JobKeeper Package – Questions and Answers (Tax & Super Australia)

COVID-19 Stimulus Package – Technical Team Special Commentary (Tax & Super Australia)

 

The AMA (WA) has prepared a number of resources for private practices managing their response to COVID-19 which AMA (WA) members can access below:

Doctors employed in WA’s public health system, including doctors working at SJOG Midland Public Hospital, Ramsay’s Joondalup Health Campus and WA Corrective Services, face a number of challenges related to COVID-19. The AMA (WA) continues to support public sector doctors to ensure their safety and industrial rights are a priority at this time.

Your employment terms and conditions, negotiated on your behalf by the AMA (WA), remain unchanged at this time.

AMA (WA) members are encouraged to contact the AMA (WA) Workplace Relations Team to seek expert advice and guidance on issues they have, relating to their employment or wellbeing.

WA Health – Advice for use of personal protective equipment for workers in community settings
WA Health – Advice for use of personal protective equipment for professional first responders
WA Public Sector Labour Relations – Leave Arrangements for COVID-19
WA Public Sector Labour Relations – Leave Arrangements for Term 2, 2020
WA Public Sector Labour Relations – Workforce Arrangements
Workers Compensation & Coronavirus (COVID-19)
COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Claim Impacts

 

The AMA (WA) has prepared a FAQ document for Public Sector Doctors which AMA (WA) members can access below:

The AMA (WA) is committed to supporting medical students and doctors in training with the challenges COVID-19 presents.

The AMA (WA) is working with relevant stakeholders to facilitate the voluntary employment of medical students.

The AMA (WA) is assisting GP registrars who have their employment threatened and doctors in training with industrial matters including flexible working arrangements.

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training (AMACDT) has developed an online resource to support current and aspiring specialty trainees to keep up to date with the status of College responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource and further information can be found on the AMA website.

A number of resources have been prepared by the AMA for medical students and doctors in training:

Members with queries relating to COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the AMA (WA) at covid19@amawa.com.au.

 

Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 first originated in humans after being transmitted from animals and can now be transmitted from human-to-human via droplets.

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is spread by:

  • droplets being transmitted directly from an infected person to the mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose) of an uninfected person; or
  • droplets being transmitted from the respiratory system of an infected person onto an external surface and subsequently picked up by an uninfected person and transferred to their mucous membranes (usually when they touch their face).

The virus can survive on external surfaces for approximately 48 hours at room temperature. The incubation period (the time between exposure to the virus and the appearance of symptoms) is estimated at between 2 to 14 days.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to the symptoms people experience with a common cold. The most common symptoms are:

  • Fever; and
  • A dry cough.

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Muscle aches;
  • Runny or stuffy nose;
  • Sore throat;
  • Shortness of breath; and
  • In some cases, breathing difficulties.

Approximately 80% of people with COVID-19 will only develop a mild infection. However, about 14% of people with COVID-19 will require hospitalisation, and 6-8% will require intensive care.

To check your symptoms visit the Healthdirect online symptom checker.

How do I protect myself and others?

  • Hand and general hygiene
    Practising good hand and general hygiene is one of the most effective methods of slowing the spread of COVID-19. This includes washing hands frequently before and after eating; after going to the bathroom; and after returning home. Appropriate handwashing should take at least 20 seconds and involve washing all surfaces on the hands. Commonly missed areas include fingertips, thumbs, in between fingers, and the back of hands. Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue or elbow, and tissues disposed of immediately. Hands should be washed with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser after blowing the nose or touching the face.
  • Avoid touching your face
    Avoiding touching your face is an important way to slow the spread of COVID-19. The infection can be spread when you pick up virus-containing droplets from an external surface with your hands, and then transfer them onto your mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth).
  • Social distancing
    Social distancing is a proven method of stopping or slowing the spread of COVID-19 and involves reducing contact between people in both public and private spaces. Social distancing has proven a simple, powerful and effective tactic to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Social distancing includes cancelling public events and large gatherings, reducing visits to public spaces like shopping centres and working from home. The idea is to only leave home for essentials – food and other provisions, medicine or health care and exercise. When people do interact in public and private spaces, maintaining physical distance between each other can also make it harder for the virus to spread. Current advice from the Australian Government recommends maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 metres where possible. Avoiding handshakes or kissing as a form of greeting others is another important way to reduce physical contact.
  • Physical isolation
    Physical isolation or ‘self-isolation’ is when you remain in your home or accommodation and avoid contact with other people. This is very important if you are a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. Most people who need to self-isolate will probably be advised to do so for 14 days. It is important that you follow the advice of health authorities and seek medical attention if you start to experience sever symptoms.

What should I do if I’m vulnerable?

Several groups of Australians are at a higher risk than the general population of being infected with COVID-19, and a higher risk than the general population of developing severe symptoms once infected. The following people should take extra precautions against becoming infected, including staying at home if possible:

  • Older Australians: starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease, and this risk increases with age. The highest risk of serious illness and death is in people older than 80.
  • People with compromised immune systems and/or existing chronic health conditions: these existing conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and autoimmune conditions, can make it harder for people’s immune systems to fight the virus.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: are at a higher risk because of the higher rate of chronic conditions in these populations.
  • People living in group residential settings: such as detention facilities and aged care facilities, where infections can spread quickly.

Other things to remember

  • It’s OK to be feeling concerned, anxious or distressed about COVID-19. These are normal responses to an unprecedented and rapidly changing situation. Acknowledge and monitor your feelings and try to manage your mental health and psychosocial wellbeing during this time. If you need support, you can contact services like Beyondblue and Lifeline.
  • Find a healthy balance of media coverage. Consuming a constant stream of media about COVID-19 can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it is important to stay informed, it is also important to have periods of time away from media that can be upsetting. Make sure the information you’re accessing is accurate and from credible sources. Here are some helpful links: Australian Government COVID-19 Health Alert, HealthDirect Coronavirus COVID-19 and World Health Organisation Coronavirus.
  • Sleep, physical activity and diet are all really important – now more than ever. Make sure you look after your mind and body.
  • Prioritise things that bring you joy. When you’re not at work, take the time to do some gardening, read a book, cook some new recipes, build something, play games with your kids/partner/housemates or just listen to music.
  • Avoid unhealthy coping strategies such as using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen your mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Maintain a routine where possible.

We have provided some more helpful links below:

Healthy WA – Health Information for Western Australians
COVID-19 Factsheet 
Tobacco use and COVID-19
Healthdirect online symptom checker