The British Medical Association have created a guidance resource for doctors on the Wuhan novel coronavirus now officially renamed by the World Health Organization as Covid-19.

The web resource aims to provide key information from PHE (Public Health England) and the DHSC (Department of Health and Social Care) about treating patients - to be read in conjunction with official guidance. It also links to the most up to date official guidance for patients and provides advice for GP surgeries in England around supplying information about preparedness to the government.

Guidance for GPs on Covid-19

PHE have advised GPs to do the following if a patient presents at a practice with suspected symptoms:

  • identify potential cases as soon as possible
  • prevent potential transmission of infection to other patients and staff
  • avoid direct physical contact, including physical examination, and exposures to respiratory secretions
  • isolate the patient in a room, obtain specialist advice and determine if the patient is at risk of Wuhan novel coronavirus infection
  • inform the local Health Protection Team (HPT), or in Wales, the Public Health Wales Health Protection Team on 0300 00 300 32.

Currently, if 2019-novel coronavirus infection is seen in the UK, it is most likely to occur in travellers that have recently returned from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, or Thailand. Therefore, an accurate travel history is an important part of identifying potential risk. 

If you suspect Covid-19 during a consultation

Public Health England guidance says if Covid-19 becomes a possible diagnosis once a consultation is already in progress, doctors should:

  • Withdraw from the room, sensitively explaining to the patient why this is necessary.
  • Leave the patient in the room with the door closed.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • The patient should not be allowed to use communal toilet facilities, they need to be instructed to not touch anything on the way to the toilet and should thoroughly wash their hands after use.
  • Belongings and waste should remain in the room.
  • If a clinical history still needs to be obtained or completed, do this by telephone.
  • Advise others not to enter the room.
  • If you have air conditioning, turn this off.

They should also seek further specialist advice, such as from a local microbiologist, virologist or infectious diseases physician as above.

How prepared are you for Covid-19?

CCGs in England (on behalf of NHS England and Improvement) are asking GP practices for information about their preparation for coronavirus. They do not have to provide this information unless the Secretary of State issues a direction.

Doctors are advised to keep up to date with the situation through the following official resources: