GP plea - Please stop sending children to get ‘Corona Free’ certificates for ECEC
Sector > Quality > In The Field > GP plea – Please stop sending children to get ‘Corona Free’ certificates for ECEC

GP plea – Please stop sending children to get ‘Corona Free’ certificates for ECEC

by Freya Lucas

March 05, 2020

In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, GPs called on schools, childcare centres and sporting clubs to stop the practice of sending a child or family to their practice to ask for a certificate declaring them free of COVID 19 – commonly referred to as coronavirus – saying it is not possible to categorically rule out infection. 


Royal Australian College of General Practitioner chief executive Harry Nespolon was quoted in the Herald as saying “I can’t write a letter to say you don’t have coronavirus, (as there is) no way we can rule it out, the test is not definitive as it will take at least three to seven days before you have the antibodies.”


At time of press, Australia has reported 52 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2 fatalities, with the bulk of cases present in New South Wales.  


Current Health Department guidelines at time of press consider those who have transited through, or arrived from, the following countries to be at higher risk of infection: 

  • Mainland China
  • Iran 
  • Italy
  • Republic of Korea 


Those who are returning from Mainland China or Iran have been asked to isolate themselves from the community for 14 days after returning to Australia. Those who have travelled from the Republic of Korea on or after 5 March 2020 have been asked to self isolate for 14 days from the time of leaving the Republic of Korea. 


Those arriving in Australia from Italy must present for health screening at the border as directed, and have not been asked to self isolate, unless they work in healthcare or aged care. The advice above should be read in conjunction with the What you need to know’ and ‘Isolation guidance’ information sheets.


In a webinar held to support colleagues, Dr Nespolon, a practicing Sydney GP, warned against handing out certificates stating someone was clear of the virus, specifically citing early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings as being one of the main requesters of such clearances.


“The problem is, childcare centres will say ‘go and get a letter’,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.


For up to date information about dealing with COVID 19 in ECEC settings, please refer to the health department relevant for your state. Global updates may be accessed through the World Health Organisation, here


To read the original coverage of this story, as published in The Sydney Morning Herald, please see here. 

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