Members will be well aware of the ongoing global outbreak of the novel Coronavirus infection (COVID-19). Please see the overview below of the College’s activities and how we will mitigate the risks, in particular to our examinations, the latest government advice, clinical research, and measures to mitigate the risk of infection. The College’s approach is to align to Australian and New Zealand government advice and to support our trainees, IMGs and members in this uncertain time. This continues to be an evolving situation and advice will continue to be updated in the coming days and weeks. We will communicate any significant developments as needed.
IMG Assessments The College will be contacting all International Medical Graduates who are scheduled for an assessment in the first half of 2020 to advise them that their assessment may be affected (including cancellation) by the developing containment measures of the Australian and New Zealand Governments. Assessments may need to be rescheduled. Additional precautions will be used during face-to-face assessments.
College Examinations The College will be advising all candidates who are scheduled for an examination in the first half of 2020 that the situation around COVID-19 is developing quickly and is subject to change.
All candidates and examiners attending a face-to-face assessment will be required to sign an undertaking confirming that they have not travelled to COVID-19 affected countries which have had community transmission in the 4 weeks prior to the examination. This period may be subject to change as more information about the virus becomes available.
The College will accept applications under the Special Circumstances Policy from candidates who have influenza-like symptoms, have travelled in COVID-19 affected countries that have reported community transmission prior to examinations and/or if there are other issues (related to COVID-19) that impede their participation in the examination. This application under the Special Circumstances Policy will not penalise the trainee’s examination opportunities.
Any candidate that exhibits flu-like symptoms on the day of their examination will not be allowed to sit the examination and will be required to apply for deferment under the Special Circumstances Policy. A number of precautions will be put in place for face-to-face assessments including limited physical contact such as hand-shaking or touching of materials such as X-rays during the assessment.
Committee Meetings and Other Events College committee members who are scheduled to attend the College for meetings should attend via video link or phone link if they have influenza-like symptoms, have travelled in COVID-19 affected countries that have had reported community transmission recently or if their family members have recently travelled to a country affected by COVID-19. We will be taking physical precautions and will be in touch to those attending upcoming events/meetings.
Cancellation of Exams, Courses and Meetings The College’s approach is to align to Australian and New Zealand government advice and to support our trainees and members in this uncertain time. It is possible that a pandemic may be declared, and that the Australian and New Zealand governments will require that large gatherings are cancelled. Also, health practitioners may be recalled to their home hospitals or clinics.
If this is the case and the College is required to cancel our examinations, courses or events, participant fees for cancelled events will be refunded and/or the event will be offered at an alternative time, as may be appropriate. In the case of examinations, if only certain parts of the examination are cancelled, then the College will permit candidates to carry forward their component passes.
The College will monitor the situation closely and communicate directly with those of you who may be affected.
College Staff Some members were worried about the wellbeing of College staff. The following is already in place at the College offices:
Government Advice The Australian and New Zealand Governments are providing daily updates on the latest medical advice and official reports on their websites. These pages include a collection of useful resources for health professionals and the public in general. You can access this information at the below links.
Australian Government Department of Health
New Zealand Ministry of Health
Clinical Research and Presentation COVID-19 has potentially far-reaching public health ramifications. Radiologists play a key role in diagnosis of disease and I encourage you to closely monitor the scientific publications to keep up to date on emerging literature and evidence. The College is considering some of the literature emerging in this space and will put links on our website to the relevant publications. However, you are all encouraged to closely follow the advice of your local Health Departments.
How to Mitigate the Risk of Infection Self-quarantine
In Australia and New Zealand, the people most at risk of getting the virus are those who have:
Those who have left, or transited through, mainland China in the last 14 days, or those who have been in close contact with a proven case of coronavirus, must isolate themselves for 14 days. Individuals who have only travelled in Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan do not need to isolate themselves. Those with confirmed cases need to isolate themselves to prevent it spreading to other people.
Evidence suggests that the virus is most likely spread through close contact with an infectious person, contact with droplets from an infected persons’ cough or sneeze, or by touching objects or surfaces that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face. Everyone should practice good hygiene to protect against infections. This includes: