Letter to General Practitioners and Primary Health Organisations from Ministry of Health National Health Coordination Centre
Kia ora e te whanau,
It has been another busy week – thank you for your hard work and support. Some updates:
Laboratory capacity and swabbing supplies are at critical levels. Please continue to apply this case definition when considering whether a patient requires swabbing for investigation in any setting (i.e. general practice, urgent care, or CBAC). There is no indication to swab asymptomatic people, irrespective of their travel history, contact history, workplace or profession.
The NZ Microbiology Network has revised their swabbing protocol. Please see below from the Network.
Swabbing procedure when testing for COVID-19
On the basis of available scientific information and in the interest of preserving resources, the New Zealand Microbiology Network (NZMN) recommends the following swabbing procedure when testing for COVID-19.
PPE in primary care includes gloves, gown, medical/surgical mask and eye protection.
There is pressure on our PPE resources. We expect to be able to provide new guidance on the rational use of PPE this week. Note that the PPE calculator sent to Primary Health Organisations last week to guide the volumes required for General Practices will also be revised over the coming days.
General practitioners and healthcare workers with respiratory or influenza-like symptoms who are in close contact with patients (i.e. less than 2 meters distance for more than 15 minutes) should be tested for COVID-19 and other potential causes of their illness.
There is guidance on the interpretation of results in the ‘Updated Advice For Health Professionals’ document.
We recognise this may be ethically and logistically challenging for many, and ask that you work together to share ideas and support your community healthcare partners. The RNZCGP, Ministry of Health, District Health Boards, and Primary Health Organisations are all working hard to be able to provide various tools, software, hardware, and pathways to support you.
To note, we understand that in some regions people with COVID-19 symptoms are being directed to CBACS or designated testing centres in the first instance, in order to reduce the presentation of these patients to general practices. Please familiarise yourselves with the local protocols and provide this information to your patients.
Finally, can we pass on our gratitude to you all for your commitment to your patients and the community at this time. The last week has required significant effort from general practice, public health units, Primary Health Organisations, District Health Boards, and other community practitioners (including nurse practitioners, urgent care, and rural healthcare providers). Thank you for your teamwork in this response.