Coronavirus Declared a Notifiable Disease

The Novel Coronavirus has now been declared as a notifiable condition in all States and Territories in Australia, placing notification requirements on doctors, nurses, hospitals and laboratories for suspected cases.

This training brochure applies to organisations that provide health services and/or pathology services.  

Public Health (Coronavirus (2019-nCov)) Amendment Regulation 2020

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (the Novel coronavirus) has now been declared as a notifiable condition/disease in all States and Territories in Australia. In most jurisdictions doctors, nurses, hospitals and laboratories are required to notify the relevant health department of a suspected novel coronavirus patient, within a specified timeframe and via telephone. A failure to notify will result in penalties.

Overview (State specific)

Australian Capital Territory

On 3 February 2020 the Public Health Act 1997 (ACT) (the Act) and the Public Health (Reporting of Notifiable Conditions) Code of Practice 2017 (ACT) (the Code of Practice) was amended by the Public Health (Novel Coronavirus –Temporary Notifiable Condition) Declaration 2020 (ACT) (the Declaration), to include the novel coronavirus as a transmissible notifiable condition. All cases and suspected cases of the Novel coronavirus must be reported by doctors, authorised nurse practitioners, pathologists and hospital managers to the ACT Chief Health Officer to fulfil notification obligations under sections 102, 103 and 104 of the Act. The notification requirements are outlined in the Code of Practice under group A conditions. All suspected cases (i.e. cases undergoing testing) and confirmed cases must be notified within 24 hours by calling the Communicable Disease Control Section (CDC) on 0262052155 during business hours or (02) 9962 4155 after hours. A failure to notify will incur a maximum of 5 penalty units (currently $826.10).

New South Wales

On 21 January 2020 the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) (the Act) was amended by Public Health Amendment (Scheduled Medical Conditions and Notifiable Diseases) Order 2020 (NSW) (the Order) to add Novel Coronavirus 2019 to list of notifiable diseases. Under section 54 and 55 of the Act, doctors and pathology laboratories are required to notify NSW Health of all people suspected or confirmed to have the infection, including after conducting a post-mortem examination. Case notification should be initiated within 24 hours of diagnosis or within 72 hours after a pathology request is made. The Public Health Regulation 2012 (NSW) (the Regulation) requires notification for a category 1 and 2 condition to be given by completing the Doctor/Hospital Notification form under Regulation 37. A failure to notify has a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units (currently $5,500).

Northern Territory

On 5 February 2020, the Notifiable Diseases Act 1981 (NT) (the Act) was amended with the Declaration and Notification of Notifiable Disease Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection (the Declaration), made under section 6 of the Act, with the Novel coronavirus made a notifiable disease. Sections 8 and 16 of the Act require a medical practitioner or pathology to urgently notify the Chief Health Officer of a notifiable disease by telephone. Information to be given to the Chief Health Officer is outlined in schedule 1 for medical practitioners and schedule 3 for a laboratory in the Declaration. A failure to notify will incur a fine not exceeding 8 penalty units (currently $1,256) or imprisonment for 6 months.

Queensland

On 30 January 2020, the Public Health (Coronavirus (2019–nCoV)) Amendment Regulation 2020 (Qld) (the Amending Regulations) amended the Public Health Regulation 2018 (Qld) (the Regulation) under the Public Health Act 2005 (Qld) (the Act) to add Novel coronavirus to the list of notifiable condition. Under section 70 of the Act and regulation 32 of the Regulation, a medical practitioner must notify the Chief Executive officer of a local government (Chief Executive) if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a patient has a notifiable condition. Notification can be by telephone, email, fax or other electronic means, as soon as practicable after the examination, pathological examination or receipt of the request, or within 48 hours. Section 72 of the act requires pathology services to (in short) notify the Chief Executive of a test result that indicates that a person has or may have a notifiable condition. Section 73 of the Act requires notification to the Chief executive if the pathology receives a request for a pathological examination of a notifiable condition. A failure to notify the Chief Executive incurs a sanction of 20 penalty units (currently $2,669).

South Australia

On 28 January 2020 the Public Health Act 2011 (SA) (the Act) was amended by a Declaration under section 63(2) of the Act to include the human coronavirus as a notifiable and controlled notifiable condition. Doctors and diagnostic laboratories are required to notify the CDCB Medical Officer on call of any suspected cases on 1300 232 272 (24/7), within 3 days of that suspicion being formed. A failure to notify will incur a maximum penalty of $10,000 fine.

Tasmania

On 5 February 2020, the Public Health Act 1997 (Tas) (the Act) was amended by order of the Director of Public Health, acting pursuant to section 40 of the Act, to declare Novel coronavirus a notifiable disease for the purposes of the Act. Pursuant to section 184 of the Act, the minister has issued the Guidelines for Notifying 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (the Guidelines). Section 46 of the Act and Part D and E of the Guidelines, requires a person to notify the Director of Public Health (Director) of a notifiable disease as soon as practicable after becoming aware or suspecting that a person they are attending has evidence of the Novel Coronavirus or by reason of a test carried out or a test result received by the laboratory. The superintendent of a laboratory or a medical practitioner must notify the Director of Public Health or a Public Health Officer by telephoning 1800 671 738 immediately and (b) sending a facsimile to 03 6222 7744. This is effective from 6 February 2020. A failure to notify in accordance with the guidelines’ will result in a fine not exceeding 50 penalty units (currently $8,400).

Victoria

On 29 January 2020, the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 No.4 (Vic) (the Amending Regulation) amended the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (Vic) (the Regulations) to add ‘Novel coronavirus 2019 (2019-nCov)’ to the list of notifiable conditions in Part 1 of Schedule 3 of the Regulations. As a result, under section 127 of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic) (the Act) and regulation 93 of the Regulations, registered medical practitioners are now required to notify the Department of Health and Human Services (the Department) of all presumed or confirmed cases of the Novel coronavirus with the required notification details; by telephone, as soon as practicable, and in any case, no later than within 24 hours. Pathology services should be aware that the Amending Regulations have amended the Regulation to add the Novel coronavirus to the list of notifiable conditions in part 1 of Schedule 4 of the Regulations. This means that under section 128 of the Act and regulation 94 of the Regulations, the person in charge of a pathology service must notify the Department of a test result that indicates that a person has or may have the Novel coronavirus, with the required notification details by telephone as soon as practicable and in any case, no later than within 24 hours; and in writing within 5 business days. A failure to notify the Department incurs a sanction of 60 penalty units (currently $9,913.20).

Western Australia

On 29 January 2020, the Public Health Act 2016 (WA) (the Act) and the Public Health Regulations 2017 (WA) (the Regulations), was amended by the Public Health (Notifiable Infectious Diseases) Order 2020 (WA) (the Order) to include human coronavirus as a notifiable infectious disease and an urgently notifiable disease under Part 9 of the Act. Section 94 of the Act requires any medical practitioner or nurse practitioner attending a patient whom he/she knows or suspects has a notifiable infectious disease or a related condition has a legal obligation to report the diagnosis to the Western Australian Department of Health, Communicable Disease Control Directorate, on 9222 0255, within 24 hours for an urgently notifiable disease or 72 hours for any other notifiable disease. The same requirement exists under this section of the Act for a pathology laboratory when a sample indicates evidence of the Novel Coronavirus. A person who fails to notify the Chief Health Officer in accordance with section 94 of the Act commits an offence. The penalty for an offence is a fine of $10,000.

Conclusion

If your organisation provides health services or pathology, your organisation will need to ensure that relevant staff such as doctors, nurses, laboratory superintendents and other relevant staff are made aware of their new reporting obligations as discussed above and set out in detail in the following topics:

  • ACT – Diseases
  • NSW – Diseases
  • NSW – Diseases (Aged care)
  • NT – Diseases
  • QLD- Diseases
  • QLD – Public Health Issues
  • SA – Notification of Diseases
  • TAS – Notification of Diseases
  • VIC – Notification of Diseases
  • VIC – Special Notification of Diseases and Testing of Body fluids
  • WA – Diseases
  • WA – Health (Health Department)
  • WA – Special notification of Diseases and Blood Donation and Analysis

Contact

For further information please contact the Law Compliance team:

Phone: 1300 862 667

Email: info@lawcompliance.com.au

www.healthlegal.com.au                      www.lawcompliance.com.au

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