Chief Health Officer Update 16/03/2020

Chief Health Officer Update 16/03/2020

What’s new?

  • There is a significant shortage of swabs and reagent kits for COVID-19 testing.
  • It is critical that clinicians limit testing to patients who meet the suspected case definition and use only one swab when testing.
  • Please provide clinical details on request slips so high-risk patients and healthcare workers can be prioritised.
  • As of 0930 16 March 2020, Victoria has 71 total confirmed cases, and no deaths.
  • The Victorian Government declared a State of Emergency in Victoria on Monday March 16.
  • The State of Emergency provides the Chief Health Officer with powers to enforce 14-day isolation for all travellers entering Australia and to do whatever is necessary to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the risk to the health of Victorians.
  • Mass gatherings of more than 500 people will be cancelled. This includes cultural events, sporting events and conferences.
  • This daily update will replace the stakeholder newsletter from today. Subscribe here.
  • Screening clinics are up and running in Victoria
  • New Chief Health Officer video here

What’s coming up?

  • We’re working hard to source swabs (which are usually made in Milan), and testing kits, and appreciate your patience while this occurs.
  • RACGP are running a number of webinars in the coming week – check the link for details.
  • Case and contact management teams are being scaled up rapidly – many of the team are still learning, so please bear with us.
  • A dedicated clinician hotline for any queries outside of notifying cases will be live from 9am Wednesday, watch this space.
  • Got questions or suggestions? Please send them to with ‘Clinician FAQ’ in the email title – we’ll add them to the website in the next few days under FAQs for clinicians.

Key information

  • Notification of suspected cases to the department is now only required for healthcare workers and residential aged care workers or residents. Notification is no longer required for all other suspected cases.
  • Notification is required by telephone immediately for all confirmed cases via 1300 651 160, 24 hours per day.
  • We will no longer be providing summaries of public exposure sites due to the large volume of exposure sites.
  • All close contacts of confirmed cases will be contacted by the department and told to home quarantine for 14 days.
  • Self-assessment guidelines are available for the public together with guidelines for healthcare and residential care workers on the Coronavirus section on the DHHS website.
  • See the Victorian COVID-19 website for current case definition, guidance and testing recommendations

More information

Clinical information

Health services and general practice – coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Consumer information

About Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for the general public

World Health Organization – health topic – Coronavirus

Smartraveller website


A public information hotline is provided by Nurse-on-Call – 1800 675 398.

Medical practitioners needing clinical information or to notify suspected or confirmed cases can contact the Department of Health and Human Services Communicable Diseases Section on 1300 651 160 (24 hours).

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