Thousands of people are queuing for coronavirus tests as the disease spreads. But the exact locations of the 100 fever clinics remain a mystery.
Thousands of people are queuing for coronavirus tests as the disease spreads. But the exact locations of the 100 fever clinics remain a mystery.

Where are the 100 coronavirus fever clinics?

The exact locations of the Department of Health's pop-up fever clinics remain a mystery and many may not exist until May.

The delay in setting up the clinics comes as people are being told they can't get an appointment at a private testing lab for over five to 10 days.

GPs are furious they still have no information on where to send patients who need testing as thousands of people queue for testing at public hospitals as the coronavirus spreads.

Hospital staff assist people waiting in line to be screened for COVID-19 outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Picture: Getty Images
Hospital staff assist people waiting in line to be screened for COVID-19 outside the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Picture: Getty Images

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are working with the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners to identify GP practices capable of managing the appropriate infection control arrangements for the proposed coronavirus clinics.

In the meantime, state governments have begun to establish their own fever clinics to deal with the demand with some operating drive through facilities to minimise the risk of infection spreading.

The Victorian Government has set up four attached to hospitals, nine private pathology companies are providing tests in NSW, there are four public and one private testing clinic in South Australia and Queensland has also moved to establish clinics.

GPs want telehealth items to apply to more patients.
GPs want telehealth items to apply to more patients.

General practitioners are also upset the new Medicare rebates for telehealth consultations are too restricted and won't allow GPs to deal over the phone with anyone who has cold or flu symptoms and fears they have the coronavirus.

To contain costs, the Department of Health says telehealth will only be available for people isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner because they meet criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation with a COVID-19 hotline, a registered medical or nursing practitioner or COVID-19 trained health clinic triage staff.

Telehealth will also be provided for people aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50, people with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised and parents with new babies and people who are pregnant.

"We are still seeking clarity regarding the criteria for telephone consultations," Royal Australian College of General practitioners president Dr Harry Nespolon said.

"What we don't know for sure is whether anyone with cold or flu like symptoms who is concerned they might have COVID-19 will be able to access these services," he said.

"Facilitating more phone consultations makes sense rather than having sick people turn up in a crowded GP clinic waiting room where they can spread the virus to others."

Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone said: "Broad access to telehealth means that we can engage doctors who may not be able to be involved in assessing COVID-19 patients because of practice infrastructure issues and underlying health restrictions, including doctors who themselves may have to self-isolate for 14 days."

Coronavirus is stretching GPs. Picture istock.
Coronavirus is stretching GPs. Picture istock.

Meanwhile the nation's medicines regulator is cracking down on dodgy coronavirus medical products warning companies who claim their product can prevent or cure coronavirus they could be breaking the law unless they have scientific proof.

Companies promoting medicines, vitamins and disinfectants as being able to prevent coronavirus could be breaking the law and must have scientific evidence to back their claims, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said.

"Any representation made in the advertising of therapeutic goods which refers to novel coronavirus (explicitly or by implication) is a 'restricted representation' and cannot be used without prior approval from the TGA," the regulator warned.

Members of the public could be putting themselves in danger if they inhale antiseptic products to prevent coronavirus, the TGA said.

"We have received reports of topical antiseptics and other products being promoted for inappropriate uses (such as inhalation) in order to prevent novel coronavirus infectionsm" the TGA said.

"Using products in a way that differs from the directions or instructions on the label can be dangerous."

Using hand rubs, wipes and disinfectants, in accordance with the directions on the label, can be part of good hygiene practice and was the primary defence against coronavirus the TGA said.

However, it warned medicines and supplements promoted as protecting against novel coronavirus are unlikely to be effective in preventing an infection.

"The TGA is also not aware of any medicines or supplements available without prescription that will prevent or assist with recovery from a novel coronavirus infection," the regulator said.

People who became unwell and who suspected they had coronavirus must seek medical attention, it said.


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