COVID-19 Primary Care Update 16/05/2022

16 May 2022

Good evening,

Dedicated Medical Advice Phone line for COVID Community Response: 1800 313 090

We are happy to be able to advise that the Clinician Medical Advice phone line is now active and available to support GPs and other medical specialists with COVID-19 management in the community.

Please call 1800 313 090 to speak with the GP Assessment Team Duty Doctor from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, 7 days. Outside these hours, the phone will be answered by the COVID Response Care Team nursing staff.

Please note this phone line is for clinician use only and should not be accessed directly by patients.

Patients in the community requiring support when their GP is unavailable should continue to be directed to the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080. The helpline will refer patients directly into the CRCT if required.

If you need specific advice regarding prescription of COVID oral antiviral medications, please contact the expert pharmacists at DATIS (Drug and Therapeutics Information Service) on 7425 8444 (Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm)

COVID-19 Update and Practical Prescribing Webinar

SA PHNs in conjunction with SA Health are providing a COVID-19 update for Primary Health Care providers.

The webinar, held on 25 May 2022 from 6.30 pm to 8.00 pm, will be facilitated by Dr Emily Kirkpatrick, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Melanie Smith, GP Liaison COVID-19 Project and Operations, SA Health. It will cover the topic Tips, tricks and practical advice on how to safely prescribe oral antivirals for your patients: a case-based discussion with our expert, experienced panel with resources to make this a safe, efficient and practical process for community GPs.

Guest speakers include: 

  • Deb Rowett and Joy Gailer from DATIS 
  • Dr Jackie Yeoh, Medical Lead for CALHN COVID Care Centre 
  • Dr Jenni Goold, Clinical Lead for GP Assessment Team

Register in advance for this webinar and please bring along your specific questions or cases that you would like to address with the panel.

You can also catch up on the recording of the most recent COVID Update webinar from 12 May 2022 about Vaccination and Paediatric Guidance

iCCnetSA: Remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients in the community

Do you have a COVID-19 patient in the community who is clinically unwell or at risk of deterioration but not currently requiring inpatient admission? If so, consider referral to iCCnetSA for home monitoring during their illness.

For more information please see the iCCnetSA website: https://www.iccnetsa.org.au/covid-19.aspx

SARS-CoV-2 Serological Testing

We have received a number of enquiries regarding use of COVID-19 serology testing.

This test is available and Medicare rebateable without specific criteria, but careful consideration should be given to its use. SA Pathology SARS-CoV-2 antibody assays detect high-affinity antibodies (IgM, IgA, or IgG) to the spike protein (S) and nucleocapsid protein (N).

Anti-S antibodies are detectable post-vaccination and post-natural infection while anti-N antibodies are only detectable post-infection.

Confirmed detection of only anti-S antibodies is consistent with immunisation with Pfizer, AstraZeneca or another S sub-unit vaccine. Presence of both anti-N and anti-S antibodies may reflect past infection or immunisation with an inactivated whole-virus vaccine (e.g. CoronaVax/Sinovax used in China, Indonesia and elsewhere).

After natural infection, serology cannot distinguish whether someone has or has not been vaccinated.

Anti-S Antibody

  • Post-Vaccination (in Australia)

Anti-N Antibody

  • Post-Natural infection (with or without vaccination)

Detectable SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies after Vaccination and Natural Infection

The sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 serology assays is dependent on timing post-onset of COVID symptoms, with poor sensitivity within 2 weeks of symptom onset. After 14 days post-onset of symptoms, sensitivity is high but may decrease over time.

Most importantly seropositivity does not indicate immunity to SARS-CoV-2

As detailed above, SARS-CoV-2 serology has low sensitivity in acute COVID-19 and is not recommended for the diagnosis of acute infection. PCR is the gold-standard test for diagnosis of acute COVID-19.

SARS-CoV-2 serology testing may be used to confirm past infection within three months of an acute illness compatible with COVID19 infection, e.g. in a patient where PCR testing was not performed at the time of acute illness. However, it should be noted that a negative antibody test does not exclude prior infection, especially if a long period of time has elapsed between acute infection and serology testing or in the elderly/immunocompromised.


Please forward this update to any colleagues who may not have received it and contact us at Health.COVID-19GPLiaison@sa.gov.au to be added to our mailing list or with any other enquiries.

Dr Emily Kirkpatrick
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Department for Health and Wellbeing