Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Information for primary health care providers

Gippsland Respiratory Clinics – Booking details below

You can get symptomatic testing at one of Gippsland’s six Respiratory Clinics

It is important for Gippslanders to continue symptomatic testing at our six Respiratory Clinics across the region. You need have only MILD symptoms to be tested.

Symptomatic testing is for people who HAVE respiratory symptoms such as fever or chills or a respiratory sickness (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or loss of smell). In addition, testing is recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (headache, muscle pain, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea).

In addition, people who are in close contacts to a confirmed case of COVID-19; who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; or who are healthcare or aged care workers should also be tested.
Now restrictions are being eased, it is more important than ever to continue testing so any community outbreaks can be detected.
Booking details for Gippsland’s six Respiratory Clinics are below:

  • Warragul Respiratory Clinic – 197-199 Sutton Street, open weekdays and Saturdays.
    Book online or phone at 5642 6666
  • Wellington Respiratory Clinic – 12 Inglis Street, Sale, open weekdays.
    Book online or phone 5143 7900 and 5143 7981
  • Foster Respiratory Clinic – 97 Station Road, open weekdays.
    Book online or phone 5682 2088
  • Wonthaggi Respiratory Clinic – 42 Murray Street (via Biggs Drive), open weekdays.
    Book online or phone 0492 036 568
  • Bairnsdale Respiratory Clinic – at 20 Forge Creek Road, Bairnsdale (via corner of Forge Creek Road and Payne Street), open weekdays.
    Book at  online or phone 4116 2014.
  • Latrobe Valley Respiratory Clinic – 185-189 Princes Drive, open weekdays and Saturday morning.
    Book online or phone 5191 9321.

Other testing facilities are also available (symptomatic and asymptomatic) at some hospitals and community health services including some outreach capacity.

Asymptomatic testing is for people WITHOUT symptoms. People without symptoms should not be tested except in special circumstances such as recovered cases wishing to return to work in a healthcare facility or aged care facility or where requested by the Department of Health as part of outbreak management or enhanced surveillance. This will usually occur in a hospital, Pop Up Clinic in a retail outlet or in work locations such as schools or an aged care facility.

Further details on testing, including locations, can be found at: or by calling the 24-hour coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.


Latest news


 Medical practitioners notifying of a confirmed case of COVID-19 are to call 1300 651 160, 24 hours a day.

The 1300 651 160 hotline has launched a call back service where medical practitioners seeking to notify of a confirmed COVID-19 case will be able to leave their phone number instead of holding on the line, and the call will be returned. 



Health professionals across Gippsland have responded to the call to help and support communities in bushfire-affected area and during the coronavirus pandemic, experiencing mental and physical issues.

It is also important that health professionals can identify when they too might need assistance.

There are a range of organisations who assist health professionals, including general practitioners, pharmacists and nurses, with day-to-day issues. All are also willing to help with any issues emerging from the East Gippsland bushfire emergency and the coronavirus pandemic.

Find out the details at

All aged care service providers are reminded that you must immediately notify the Commonwealth Department of Health of any COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.

Find out more at

  • Stay home and get tested if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) no matter how mild: including fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste. Go home straight after your test and self-isolate while you wait for the results. Go to the DHHS testing map for locations.
  • Wear a face mask or covering when you leave home, unless a lawful exception applies.
  • This is a difficult and uncertain time for all so support is vital and available. For more information about managing stress and support options, call the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Services on 1800 512 348.
  • For information on worker support payments, see Coronavirus (COVID-19) Test Isolation and Worker Support Payments.
  • Check our website for information and advice about current restriction levels in place including where stage 4, stage 3 and stage 2 restricted areas are, as well as the updated directions.
  • A factsheet has been created for the public on how to Reduce your risk of coronavirus (COVID-19), and has been translated into 49 languages.
  • A video from the Chief Health Officer showing our community ‘how to safely wear a mask’ has been dubbed into a variety of languages for the public – you can find them here

Current advice to clinicians

  • Practitioners should test any patients who meet the clinical criteria below:Fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation*
    Acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, anosmia or loss of smell or loss of taste)Note: In addition, testing is recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19)** AND who are close contacts of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19); who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; or who are healthcare or aged care workers.*Clinical discretion applies including consideration of the potential for co-infection (e.g. concurrent infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza)
    **headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
  • If referring your patients for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, a list of testing locations can be found on the getting tested for coronavirus page.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services will continue distributing masks to eligible Victorians. General practices can place orders for these masks. More information is available on the reusable face masks page.


For general practice and primary care services

From midday on Friday 20 March, medical practitioners seeking advice about COVID-19 (outside of testing and notification procedures) can call the DHHS Communicable Diseases Section on 1300 651 160 and choose the ‘Specialist Medical Advice’ option. Pending demand, you may be asked to leave a message for return phone call.

Please note: notification of suspected cases is no longer required.

If you have any questions about COVID-19 and how Gippsland Primary Health Network can support you, please phone 03 5175 5444 or

For the Gippsland community

If you suspect you may have the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), please call either the:

  • Dedicated DHHS hotline on 1800 675 398
  • National hotline on 1800 020 080

Both lines will connect you to a registered nurse if needed.

Please keep Triple Zero (000) for emergencies only.

If you do not have symptoms but need general information on COVID-19, please visit or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 (24 hours).


Stay informed

Log into HealthPathways Gippsland to access the COVID-19 pathways

This is a rapidly evolving situation. Health professionals and primary health care providers should ensure they are always informed about the current situation in Victoria.

To stay informed, please make sure your general practice or health service does each of the following:

  1. Subscribe to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Alerts at
  2. Follow DHHS on Twitter:
  3. Nominate someone in your practice or service to check the COVID-19 hub on the DHHS website each day to make sure you have the latest copies of the:
    • Quick reference guide and checklist
    • Guidelines for health services and general practitioners

Gippsland Primary Health Network (PHN) is providing localised support for regional primary care, including general practice. To stay informed with our updates, please make sure you:

  1. Visit our website
  2. Follow us on social media (links below)
  3. Sign up to read our newsletters, including the weekly Practice Support


Key information for health professionals



Gippsland health professionals can access the following COVID-19 pathways available on HealthPathways Gippsland

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19):

  • Practice Management  
  • Assessment and Management  
  • Aged Residential Care Assessment and Management  
  • Child Assessment and Management  
  • Mental Health (NEW) 
  • Referrals and Referral Advice 
  • Information  
  • Impact on Local Services  
  • MBS Items 
  • Telehealth 
  • Electronic Prescribing.  

These pathways are continuously being updated to reflect current guidelines.

If you need a login, contact the HealthPathways team at


Remote Patient Monitoring for COVID-19

The Remote Patient Monitoring for COVID-19 program is designed to keep patients connected to their general practice while in isolation or quarantine. The program provides patients with the confidence that their COVID-19 symptoms are being monitored by health professionals.

Patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 will be invited to participate in the program by the referring Respiratory Clinic.

The following resources have been developed to support patients involved in this program:

Frequently asked questions

How to register

How to record symptoms

Keep up to date

Nominate someone in your practice or service to check the COVID-19 hub on the DHHS website each day to make sure you have the latest copies of the:


A comprehensive range of current information and advice on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for health services, health professionals and the community is available from both Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Australian Department of Health (DoH).

It includes comprehensive guidelines specifically for general practitioners as well as information for the public including the use of masks.

This is a rapidly changing situation, so regular updates will be provided. Additional cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 are expected in Victoria as this illness continues to spread across the world.

DHHS has also released guidelines and a range of other resources specifically for hospitals, health services and general practitioners which can be found at the department’s novel coronavirus website:

The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the COVID-19 Plan) was endorsed by the AHPPC on 17 February 2020.

CDNA met on 3 March 2020 and discussed the definition of Health Care Workers in the Series of National Guidelines (SoNG). Noting the SoNG are intended for public health workers, they are still used more broadly by other health professionals. Members discussed risk profile assessment and agreed on the following:

  • these recommendations apply to workers who come into contact with those in residential aged care and other health care settings
  • health care workers are defined as workers who come into contact with patients in a hospital or residential care setting including aged care facilities
  • all healthcare workers should observe usual infection prevention and control practices in the workplace

Both DHHS and DoH are continuing to monitor the emerging information and evidence closely. It will work with jurisdictions, through key committees and other relevant experts, to adapt the COVID-19 Plan as new information becomes available.

For updated DoH information, go to

A hotline is available for the general public who have questions or concerns – 1800 675 398.

The new COVID-19 Telehealth MBS items can now be claimed (updated to include for services by obstetricians, midwives and nurse practitioners, with new short services for GPs and allied health).

COVID-19 Bulk-billed MBS telehealth Services – Overarching 200420

Visit MBS Online for the latest information.

MBS changes Fact Sheet 17 June


9:54am, 15 March 2020

Dear Clinicians

Thank you for your important role in responding to the current COVID-19 situation. We appreciate your efforts to protect the Victorian community at this critical time.

Please note there is currently a significant shortage of swabs for COVID-19 testing. As a result, it is critical that testing is limited to patients who meet the suspected case definition. This was recently revised by the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, and has been tightened to reflect this issue.

Case definitions will be available on the DHHS website later tonight, Saturday 14 March.

To be tested, it is important that patients fall into one of the three categories of suspected case below:

  1. Patients that have clinical and epidemiological criteria, which means: fever or acute respiratory infection AND international travel in the 14 days before onset of illness, or close contact in the 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Please note that casual contact is no longer a trigger for testing.
  2. Patients that have severe community-acquired pneumonia (who are critically ill) and no other cause is identified, with or without recent international travel.
  3. Patient is a healthcare worker with direct patient contact who has a fever (≥ 37.5) AND an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat).

Please do not test outside these suspected case categories.

Furthermore, please note when taking specimens:

  • Only one swab is now required for both nostrils and throat for each patient (i.e. a total of one swab per patient).
  • Please avoid doubling up and sending swabs to both private laboratories and the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) concurrently – testing is only required to be sent to your usual laboratory.
  • Please write clearly on the specimen request if the patient is a healthcare worker – mark the specimen request Urgent – Healthcare Worker.

To further assist with this issue, assessment centres will only receive a limited number of swabs in the coming days, to ration the remaining supply.

Thank you again for your valued contribution to this public health emergency.

Yours sincerely

Victorian Chief Health Officer
Victorian Chief Human Biosecurity Officer
Regulation, Health Protection & Emergency Management
Department of Health & Human Services | 14 / 50 Lonsdale St

Temporary increases to incentive payments for general practices will increase support for bulk billed services and ensure patients keep access to essential face-to-face care.

It is essential GP practices remain open and continue to provide vital primary care services to Australians during a very challenging time.           

The recent expansion of Medicare telehealth services will not replace important care that require face-to-face visits with GPs. Increased practice incentive payments will support general practices to maintain these critical services and ensure patients can continue to receive quality care.

Read the attached fact sheet about Primary Care Package – Practice Incentive Payments.

Fact sheet PIP QI

As part of the National Health Plan, Electronic Prescribing is being fast tracked.

Work to upgrade healthcare providers’ clinical software is well underway and is expected to be ready by May 2020. In addition, there are immediate options available for patients to receive medicines via telehealth services and have medicine sent directly to homes.

Doctors, nurses and mental health professionals are able to deliver bulk-billed services via telehealth until 30 September 2020 via phone or video conferencing.

Below are information guides for prescribers, dispensers and consumers.

A guide for prescribers – Fact sheet

A guide for dispensers – Fact sheet

A guide for consumers – Fact sheet

The Department of  Health and Human Services (DHHS) has provided the  most recent information in relation to Public Health Emergency Order #4 (PHEO #4).

Victorian Government Gazette – guidelines

The Department of Health is closely monitoring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health services.

It is important for people to keep seeing their healthcare provider for their cervical screening and any follow up investigations recommended.

If you have received a reminder about cervical screening and you have any questions or concerns, please call your doctor or healthcare provider to talk about your circumstances.

Read more

The Department of Health (DoH) has put together a range of resources to assist Home Care providers and Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) providers with the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.

This includes a fact sheet which covers a range of topics to assist providers in accessing government measures, support, advice and guidance for their workforce as well as many FAQs the department has been fielding about program flexibility and advice on supporting clients during this difficult time.

DoH has also released new resources designed to assist aged care workers and clients in aged care settings.

The PPE Resources Pack contains:

  • Information for in-home care clients – “Its ok to have home care” – is designed so carers can print off and distribute before entering their clients home to reassure them that it is ok to continue to receive care
  • Flowchart/poster that can be sent or distributed to you workforce on when to use PPE in aged care settings
  • PPE video which provides a demonstration on how to appropriately use PPE, is also a good resource to distribute to your networks.

See the fact sheets below:




For more information, go to


Download the form to order surgical masks by clicking here

Infection prevention

The following information is provided by Margaret Jennings of Marjen Education Services.

A microbiologist, infection prevention control educator and consultant to general practice, Ms Jennings provides infection prevention and control education and consulting to the non-hospital setting.

Her interest in infection prevention and control started many years ago when she reviewed the use of chemical disinfectants in hospitals. In 1994, the national standard for instrument reprocessing was released which attracted her interest for its application for office-based practice.

In 2014, Ms Jennings was invited by the Royal Australian College of General Practice to contribute to its fifth edition of Infection Prevention & Control standards.

As a former microbiologist, she has worked in clinical and research bacterial/viral/immunology laboratories and has been a lecturer/tutor/demonstrator at a tertiary level.


Guidelines for use of masks and personal protective equipment


Guidance from the Federal Department of Health on the supply of masks from the National Medical Stockpile through Primary Health Networks


Pharmacy limits on dispensing and sales

Community pharmacists are now required to enforce limits on dispensing and sales of certain prescription and over-the-counter medicines. 

It is important that all prescribers, dispensers and other health care professionals involved in medication management are aware and able to support consumers in navigating these changes.

These measures are in response to demand for medicines increasing markedly during the first two weeks of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new measures

·         Pharmacists will be required to limit dispensing of certain prescription products to one month’s supply at the prescribed dose, and sales of certain over-the-counter medicines to a maximum of one unit per purchase.

·         Pharmacists will be strongly encouraged to limit dispensing and sales of all other medicines to one month’s supply or one unit.

·         New controls will also be in place for the supply of salbutamol inhalers and paracetamol paediatric formulations.

Read more at the TGA website.

The COVID-19 National Health Plan includes the Home Medicines Service. This service will enable vulnerable people and people in self-isolation to order their PBS and RPBS prescriptions remotely and have their medicines home delivered to reduce their potential exposure to COVID-19.

While the details are still being confirmed, the most current information about this program is available here.

The case definition has been updated. Please refer to the DHHS website to ensure you have latest information.

Read the latest case definition

Cases meeting the suspected case definition for COVID-19 must be tested.

Please note: notification of suspected cases is no longer required.

The full plan is available on the health.vic website.

Victoria’s Pandemic plan has four stages of response, from initial containment to stand down and recovery. Victoria is currently in Stage 3.

  • Overall objectives (p.4)
  • Preparation and planning (p.8)
  • Maximising case detection (p.9)
  • Minimising transmission (p.10)
  • Managing presentations to general practice during stage 2 (p.16)
  • Acute Respiratory Clinics (p.16)
  • Personal protective equipment (p.20)

Note: The Victorian plan is intended as an overarching guidance document to inform more detailed planning at individual practice and institutional level. All health services should now develop or review local plans for pandemic preparedness, response and recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed a range of challenges for the prescribers, dispensers, and users of opioid replacement therapy (pharmacotherapy).

In response to these challenges, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed advice and clinical guidance resources (attached/below) related to working in the Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence (MATOD) sector.

The current advice moderates existing MATOD policy for prescribers and dispensers in relation to:

  • Takeaway doses
  • Third party collection
  • Suboxone prescribing caps

This information is intended to provide guidance and support for increased flexibility in clinical treatment during this time.

This advice was developed by alcohol and other drug experts and DHHS, and will be supported by ongoing work by the department to identify optimal pathways for vulnerable clients, including pharmacotherapy patients.

AOD – COVID19 – MATOD – 2 April 2020 CLEAN

Third Party Arrangements_260320 clean 20200330 (1)

Take Away Dose Guidance_260320_Clean – 20200330 (1)

If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 you can refer to the DHHS self-assessment tool to help you decide the best course of action.

Mask update from the Department of Health and Human Services

Reusable face masks are available for general practices and pharmacies, to order via DHHS using this online ordering form.

General Practices or ACCHOs needing Surgical or P2 masks and Pharmacies needing surgical masks: please continue to request these via this link.

Allied health and nurse practitioner owned or led primary care practices needing surgical masks: please continue to request via this link.

Remember, masks are supplied in the understanding that you have been unable to secure commercial supply. For all PPE, please ensure your stock is up to date. 

The surgical and P2 masks distributed by the PHN to general practices and pharmacies are not to be sold or distributed to the general public.


Posters for your practice (English but other languages are available)


Clinical resources

Posters and public service announcements in many languages other than English are being added to the Victorian DHHS website regularly.

EthnoLink Language Services are also regularly updating resources in many different languages from a variety of verified sources.

The Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations has developed a useful resource that answers some questions and shares tips and referrals for LGBTIQ and HIV communities.

In addition to its 24-hour coronavirus health information line, Healthdirect Australia is regularly updating its online channels in response to questions from the community:

Answers to frequently asked questions are available on the healthdirect COVID-19 website hub

Self assessment for risk of coronavirus

If you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 you can refer to the DHHS self-assessment tool to help you decide the best course of action.


Advice for health professionals and your asthma patients is available on the National Asthma Council website.

Mental health


It is a challenging and unsettling time for Australians and people across the world. COVID-19 has and will continue to impact us all as we rapidly adapt to new ways of life.

The National Mental Health Commission has combined resources that will help keep you informed with the latest health information as well as looking after your mental health and wellbeing.

We encourage you to check in with yourself and others and stay emotionally and socially connected, especially to those that are self-isolating.


Watch this video from the NMHC CEO, Christine Morgan.

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the significant media coverage may have you feeling concerned, anxious and uncertain. The following resources have been developed to support your mental health and wellbeing during this time.

WHO COVID-19 Mental Health Considerations for the public, health workers, parents and people in isolation.

Head to Health have a dedicated landing page for mental health information to help you and your loved ones cope with feelings resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.

Life In Mind and the National Mental Health Commission have developed a landing page consolidating resources available in to one spot. This will be updated regularly.

Beyond Blue has helpful tips on how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak and a video on how to talk to children about ‘scary stuff’.

RUOK? have shared a message on the importance of staying connected.

UNICEF Australia have developed resources and tips to support parents and teachers in talking to children about COVID-19.

Emerging Minds have resources for parents talking to children about disasters or traumatic events.

Phoenix Australia have tips for taking care of yourself and your family.

WHO Social Stigma Guidelines for COVID-19 outlines safe language to use when discussing and reporting on COVID-19 to avoid social stigma. For those reporting on mental illness, we encourage you to refer to the Mindframe Guidelines

Lifeline – Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak – “No one needs to face their problems alone. Help is available.”

Can’t sleep and feeling anxious about coronavirus? You’re not alone (what’s normal and when to get help) – The Conversation
Words for when to access GP

Accessing support and staying connected is really important during this time. We encourage you to seek further support should you need it.

The below support lines are available 24/7 if you need to talk.

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
  • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
  • MensLine 1300 78 99 78
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

If you are currently impacted by the Bushfires, you can access immediate free counselling and additional supports by contacting Services Australia 180 22 66.

If you need emergency assistance phone 000 for police, ambulance or fire services.

Services Australia – financial support for people affected by coronavirus


Support for small businesses affected by adverse events


Super Friend – booklet guide for people that have a colleague or workmate that is experiencing loss and grief (lost job, lost relationship, lost house)


National debt helpline – Support with financial crisis – 1800 007 007


Crisis accommodation and homelessness
To speak with a housing and support worker, if you are homeless, at risk of homelessness or escaping family violence, call 1800 825 955 – 24 hour, statewide, toll free number.


Family violence and relationship stress

Safe Steps – 24/7 family violence response phone line for women and children 1800 015 188


MensLine – for men experiencing emotional distress or relationship concerns – 1300 78 99 78


Legal support

Victoria Legal Aid – 1300 792 387

Education & training


Primary care providers can now access online COVID-19 infection control training at

Department of Health Infection Control Training Model

  • Health professionals can access online training on ‘’How to protect yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID-19”.

The Australian Department of Health is offering an Infection Control Training Model online for care workers across the primary care sector including general practice, pharmacy, allied health, Aboriginal Health Workers and other primary care workers.

The training model covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19 including:

  • COVID-19 – what is it?
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Keeping safe – protecting yourself and others
  • Myth busting

The module takes 30 minutes with a quiz at the end.

To register or find out more information

Check our website

To limit the spread of COVID-19 we will not be holding face-to-face education or training sessions until further notice.

All sessions will be webinar only (if possible).

Please keep updated with our newsletter and emails should the situation change.

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