27 July 2020

RACGP recommends all NSW and ACT GPs mask up during consults

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]


27 July


  • From TMR’s Felicity Nelson and Penny Durham: The RACGP is recommending that all GPs in NSW and ACT wear masks during patient consultations.
    The update came out on Friday after NSW Health mandated that all healthcare workers in public hospitals and community health settings must wear surgical masks if they are within 1.5 metres of patients. Patients have been advised to wear masks where possible.
    The College could not mandate the wearing of masks but recommended in its Friday broadcast that GPs wear masks during patient consultations even if they didn’t expect to come within 1.5 metres of a patient, Associate Professor Charlotte Hespe, a GP based in Sydney and the current chair of the RACGP NSW and ACT faculties, told The Medical Republic.
    “Unlike with NSW Health where they have mandated [mask-wearing] for their staff, we can only say we would recommend that that’s what GPs do,” said Professor Hespe.
    “From my perspective, if you look at the practicalities of it when you’re doing face to face consultations, you should be wearing a mask because you don’t know at what point you may or may not be approaching that 1.5 metres,” she said.
    “You may or may not have to examine their ears, feel their tummy, do all of those sorts of things. So, it’s practicality wise is much easier to just say, ‘wear a mask’.”
    The recommendation for GPs to wear masks also included rural and regional areas of NSW and ACT because COVID outbreaks could happen anywhere at any time, said Professor Hespe. Professor Hespe said there were currently supplies of masks available and the RACGP was talking with the Department of Health and the PHNs to ensure that every practice had access to those supplies.
    Some practices would choose to buy their own supplies, she said.
    “It is about forward planning,” said Professor Hespe. “Certainly, my practices has done that and just get what we can from the PHN. I’d rather that we have the supplies for our staff.”
  • Wondering where things are at with SARS-CoV-2 vaccines? The World Health Organisation has published a document listing the 166 vaccine candidates in development, 25 of which are in clinical trials and the remainder are in pre-clinical development.
  • E-scripts are go in Queensland, with one of the first to be sent today. Queensland is the last state to launch e-scripts, with all other Australian states making e-scripts available from mid-July.
    E-scripts will allow prescribers to generate an electronic script that is then sent to the patient, or their carer, by text or email. Patients can then forward their unique token to the dispensing pharmacy of their choice, or present it in person. GPs have to upgrade their patient management system to a compatible version in order to use e-scripts, and the dispensing pharmacy must also have the relevant e-script software.
  • While those seeking an exemption from wearing a mask in Victoria are not currently obliged to provide a medical certificate, the RACGP notes that Victorian GPs are receiving requests from patients for documentation to this effect, and has developed a template letter for GPs to use.
  • The weekend has delivered more bad news for Victorians, with nearly one thousand new infections reported – including a record-breaking 532 new cases just in the last 24 hours – and 16 more lives lost in the past two days. The highest numbers of active cases are in the Melbourne regions of Wyndham and Brimbank.
    A grim-faced premier Dan Andrews has pleaded with Victorians not to go to work if they have any symptoms, but to get tested and isolate themselves. More than 1.5 million tests have now been conducted in the state in the pandemic.
    In New South Wales, a public health warning has been issued for the Thai Rock restaurant in Potts Point in Sydney – which is connected to Thai Rock in Wetherill Park in south-west Sydney – after a staff member tested positive. Anyone who visited the restaurant between 15-25 July for more than two hours is urged to get tested and self-isolate, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
    The state recorded 28 new cases over the weekend. Some cases were linked to the Wetherill Park Thai Rock restaurant, some to church and funeral services in south-west Sydney, and there were also a few positive tests in returned travellers in quarantine.
    Western Australia recorded four new cases over the weekend: two historical cases linked to overseas travel earlier in the year, and two recently returned travellers in quarantine.
    Around Australia, here are the confirmed COVID-19 infection numbers, to 9pm Sunday:
    National – 14,403, with 155 deaths and 241 hospitalised
    ACT – 113
    NSW – 3668
    NT – 31
    QLD – 1076
    SA – 447
    TAS – 229
    VIC – 8181
    WA – 658
COVID-19 live update