This is the first Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the COVID19 Plan). It is designed to guide the Australian health sector response. It should be considered a living document that will be periodically updated. As the Australian government learns more about the virus and its key at risk groups, and as potential treatments become available, such as antiviral drugs and vaccine, the government can target resources and public health interventions to most effectively protect the health of all Australians.
The novel coronavirus outbreak represents a significant risk to Australia. It has the potential to cause high levels of morbidity and mortality and to disrupt our community socially and economically. The national approach to this plan has been based on the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza (AHMPPI), noting that the response to the novel coronavirus outbreak is now in the Initial Action stage. Accordingly, the preparedness and standby stages have not been included.
Australia will approach this novel coronavirus outbreak by undertaking activities to:
- monitor and investigate outbreaks as they occur;
- identify and characterise the nature of the virus and the clinical severity of the disease;
- research respiratory disease-specific management strategies;
- respond promptly and effectively to minimise the novel coronavirus outbreak impact;
- undertake strategies to minimise the risk of further disease transmission; and
- contribute to the rapid and confident recovery of individuals, communities and services.
The activities required to support our community during this novel coronavirus outbreak will involve state and territory governments, the Australian Government and many other health sector parties. Coordination and communication at the national level will be particularly important during our current active response.