Health workers particularly in emergency departments and those who are primary and community health workers are being urged to follow recommendations made by the Australian Government Department of Health on how to respond to the coronavirus.
The Department has published information sheets on its website which outline symptoms of the disease and what actions to take.
The points include considering the presence of coronavirus infection in patients with fever and respiratory symptoms who recently travelled to anywhere in China, especially Wuhan, transferring patents with severe respiratory illness to EDs for investigation, and contacting state and territory public health units or communicable disease branches for advice on suspected cases.
The Information Sheets also list epidemiological and clinical criteria to help health professionals classify a patient as a suspected case.
The criteria includes a patient having travelled to Wuhan or an area with evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission in the past 14 days before the onset of illness, in conjunction with sudden and severe onset of respiratory infection requiring hospital admission.
In taking action for patients who meet criteria for the coronavirus, health professionals are directed to place a surgical mask on the patient, place them in an isolated room, and use standard and contact transmission precautions including disposable fluid resistant gown, gloves and eye protection while reviewing the patient
Further, Emergency Departments are instructed that if a patent is in respiratory distress, hypoxaemia or shock, to immediately give supplemental oxygen and empirical antibiotics and for those not in distress, to provide early supportive therapy as required.