Dr Matt Harvey Explains COVID-19 Preparedness and importance of self-isolation

We asked Dr. Matt Harvey to respond to some of your Coronavirus FAQ…

1. Are we safe to visit?

Yes, you are safe to visit us. We have increased cleaning and made some changes in the practice to improve safety for our patients and for our team. The waiting room looks a bit different, and the people on the front desk might direct you to sit in a particular place, and they will ask you to wash your hands and maintain safe spaces between yourself and other people in the waiting room.

If you, your child, or someone you’re caring for are unwell with fever or cough or breathing problems, please phone us first on 3207-7744 before coming in. We might need to ask you to wait in your car before a doctor sees you. To maintain safety, we have designated doctors and staff members to see unwell people on different days, so you may not get to see your usual doctor, but rest assured that all of our doctors will take good care of you, and they all work together as a team. They can speak with your usual doctor to clarify and longstanding issues if needed.

2. Should I be tested for COVID-19?

The Government currently has in place strict testing criteria that determine who can be tested. This is to preserve the testing resources needed to manage the pandemic in the longer term. The Government will change the testing criteria from time to time as needed. If you’re well, you don’t need to be tested. If you have any symptoms, please ring us to discuss your concerns. You might be eligible for a telephone consultation with one of our doctors.

3. Should I reschedule my routine appointment?

If you are well, there is no need to reschedule your appointment. The pandemic is going to be around for several months. In that time, it’s really important to attend to your routine health care to stay well.

If you are unwell at the time of your routine appointment, please call us ahead of time to discuss whether you need to reschedule or change the purpose of your appointment,

4. Should I delay immunizations?

If you and your children are well, there is no need to delay immunizations. In fact, it is more important than ever right now to make sure all of your own and your children’s immunizations are up to date, especially for Influenza, whooping cough and pneumococcal disease.

If you or your children are unwell, please call us to plan what needs to be done.

5. When can I have a flu injection & will this protect me against COVID-19?

Our stocks of flu immunizations have just started to come in and our priority in the next couple of weeks is getting people with more severe health problems to be immunized first. If you have heart or lung conditions, immune system problems, cancer, or you are over 65 years old, we want to see you soon! If you’re otherwise well it’s still ok to wait a little while and book in with us after Easter.

We will be running immunization clinics regularly. In those clinics, the doctor will also talk to you about any other immunizations that you might need.

Unfortunately, the flu immunization won’t protect you against COVID-19. But it’s really important to still get the flu needle this year because it’s possible to be infected with influenza and coronavirus at the same time, and we need to prevent that from happening to anyone.

6. My family member has been tested, should I self-isolate?

Yes.

Please self-isolate until the test results are known. If your family member tests negative then you can re-enter the community. If your family member tests positive then you will need to self isolate for 14 days. Please call us if you start becoming unwell or have any other concerns during that time. You will be eligible for a Medicare-funded telephone consultation with your doctor.

7. I have a cough, but nothing else. Should I come in?

No, not yet. The best thing you can do right now stays home, rest, stay well hydrated and well-nourished. If you have asthma or any other lung or heart conditions please call us for further advice. If your symptoms are getting worse rather than better after 2 or 3 days, please call us for further advice.

8. When should I self-isolate?

If you are unwell with cough, fever or other cold and flu symptoms. If you have a health condition that puts you at risk of severe complications from COVID -19, eg. heart and lung conditions, immune system problems, cancer, and advanced age.

Please remember if you are self-isolating because you are at risk, it is still important to attend to your regular health care needs. It is still safe to come out to see us, but please phone us first to choose the best time.

9. When should I stop my parents from visiting my children?

Now.

We know that children who catch coronavirus generally only experience mild symptoms, so the risk to children individually is generally considered to be low at this stage. Older adults tend to experience more severe symptoms and are at higher risk of dying from coronavirus. Younger children often find it difficult to understand the need for maintaining safe distances and older children may forget to maintain safe spaces, wash their hands, cough into their elbows and so forth.

10. How do we stay sane and healthy during this time?

These are difficult and uncertain times and quite stressful for most of us. It is important to maintain the connection with friends and family over the phone, online and with video platforms like Skype or Zoom. If you have to self isolate, make sure you plan and stick to a routine throughout your day. Pick up an old hobby you used to enjoy, or try something new! It’s safe to go outside and go for a walk with the dog, do some work in your yard, take the kids to the park and so forth, just as long as we all remember to maintain safe spaces from one another.
If you are experiencing severe mental distress, you can speak to your GP and ring services like Lifeline or Beyond Blue. Some psychologists may also be able to provide support over the phone.

11. Should I go visit friends?

You can visit friends if everyone is well with no fever or respiratory symptoms and if everyone maintains safe spaces. It’s best to try to find an outdoor space where you can meet, and keep the gathering small.

12. Can we go outside?

Yes, absolutely! We should all be getting some outside time for fresh air and exercise. If you’re unwell, you can still go out in your yard or on a balcony. If you have no access to an enclosed space and have to use communal spaces, maintain a good distance from other people and wear a mask if possible. If you’re well, you can go outside to public spaces as long as the area isn’t too crowded and you can easily maintain a 2-meter space from other people.
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This information is of a general nature only. It may not apply to your individual circumstances. It is not intended to substitute for medical advice. For further information and specific advice please contact Sunstate Family Practice on 3207 7744 or after hours, the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080