23 July 2020

COVID-19 tests rebatable for asymptomatic contact tracing

Communicable Disease COVID-19 Live blog

Welcome to The Medical Republic‘s COVID Catch-Up.

It’s the day’s COVID-19 news into one convenient post. Got any tips, comments or feedback? Email me at [email protected]


23 July


  • From TMR’s Felicity Nelson: Yes, GPs can charge Medicare for COVID testing of asymptomatic patients in areas where contact tracing is required, without attracting the attention of the Professional Services Review, according to a briefing by the federal Department of Health today.
    Speaking at the virtual briefing this morning, Dr Lucas De Toca, the acting first assistant secretary of the COVID-19 Primary Care Response at the Australian government Department of Health, said that screening tests were usually not Medicare rebatable.
    However, in areas where the jurisdictional Department of Health was indicating that contacts need testing for COVID, this would not be considered screening and GPs would be able to receive a Medicare rebate for the test, he said.
    Dr De Toca also said high volumes of GP services related to COVID will be considered exceptional circumstances and the PSR wouldn’t go after GPs under the 80/20 rule.
    The other message for GPs from the briefing today was don’t let your guard down in tea rooms, particularly if you’re in a region with higher COVID transmission rates.
    Dr James Ayres, a GP at Lakeview Medical Practice in the ACT, said staff were going to get together in tea rooms and communal areas so practices needed to set up a system to try limit the number of people in the same room and make sure commonly touched surfaces were cleaned regularly.
    More reports have been emerging about the risk of airborne transmission of COVID, but it was important to put this new research into context, said Dr De Toca.
    Every little bit of evidence gets picked up and magnified in the media and it is hard to keep up, he said.
    Right now, there was a lot of noise around airborne transmission of COVID, but GPs needed to remember that research showing COVID exists as in aerosols did not equate to infectivity, he said.
    We know the risk of transmission was lower outdoors compared with indoors, he said.
    Closed spaces with lots of people singing and generating droplets was going to be more risky.
    Risk assessment should be done based on the context rather than getting into the finer details on whether transmission was happening via the air or via direct contact, he said.
    If you follow the PPE instructions, you are doing the right thing but the evidence keeps emerging and we keep updating this, he said.
  • Five more lives have been lost to COVID-19 in Victoria, including that of a man in his fifties, and four children are now in hospital with the virus, according to the latest news from Victoria.
    NSW recorded 19 new cases on Wednesday, including three linked to the Crossroads Hotel, nine to the Thai Rock Restaurant, and three more returned travellers in hotel quarantine. Meanwhile, the number of tests performed has shot up, with 24,460 tests performed in the last 24 hours compared to 18,465 tests in the previous 24 hours.
    Here are the latest confirmed COVID-19 infection figures around Australia to 9pm Wednesday:
    National – 12,896, with 128 deaths and 214 hospitalised
    ACT – 113
    NSW – 3614
    NT – 31
    QLD – 1073
    SA – 446
    TAS – 229
    VIC – 6739
    WA – 651
COVID-19 live update