Reports emerging of patients refusing to self-isolate

Doug Hendrie

17/03/2020 5:24:57 PM

GPs have reported some possible or proven coronavirus patients refuse to isolate or quarantine themselves – with some even being dishonest about their exposure.

Person leaving house
Many states now have hefty fines for possible or proven coronavirus cases refusing to self-isolate – and GPs say the problem is real.

The news comes as states and territories move to introduce heavy fines of up to $50,000 for people breaching self-isolation.
Self-isolation is set to spike after the Federal Government required everyone arriving in Australia to quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Police in New South Wales have already been called to a situation where someone was refusing to comply with medical directives. And GPs are now reporting that some patients are refusing to take the situation seriously.
A patient came to Dr Rob Hosking’s clinic in Bacchus Marsh, outside of Melbourne, last week. Her GP advised to self-isolate, given that she had minor symptoms and had recently returned from a country with a rising coronavirus risk.
That week, however, the patient went to two large social events with a high number of older people – the demographic most at risk amid the coronavirus outbreak.
And, as is often the way of many small towns, the news got back to her concerned doctors.
‘She totally disregarded the advice from her doctor,’ Dr Hosking told newsGP.
‘I can’t believe she would have done it. She was obviously just not convinced.
‘She didn’t believe the advice she’d been given.’
Police in states like Queensland are now conducting spot checks to see if people are staying isolated as required and warning people if there is a breach. 
GPs concerned about a non-compliant patient may be able to report the issue to local police or the state public health unit.
Other GPs have expressed similar frustrations with non-compliant patients, with Melbourne’s Dr Todd Cameron even moving his clinics to telehealth only in the wake of an issue with a patient concealing their potential exposure.  
‘I’ve seen many GPs complaining that patients are not self-isolating, or even lying [to reception staff] by saying they haven’t had any exposure only to disclose it to their GP,’ Dr Hosking said.
‘There can be a feeling among the community that health practitioners are immune [to viruses], that they don’t have any responsibility towards us.
‘Many GPs would feel outraged and want to report people who were knowingly breaching self-isolation. We’re trying to deal with the fallout of people transmitting the virus unnecessarily.
‘This is about slowing the progression and protecting the vulnerable. It’s not just older people – it’s young people on immune-suppressing drugs, those with severe asthma, smokers.
‘People don’t fully understand.’
The Department of Health has prepared official guides for people asked to self-isolate, which can be printed and given to patients.
A Tasmanian man who went to work in a hotel despite being asked to self-isolate led to the State Government flagging harsher penalties.
In the US, a man with coronavirus refusing to self-isolate has been kept under armed guard
The RACGP has more information on coronavirus, including self-isolation, available on its website.
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Dr Kirsten   18/03/2020 8:08:34 AM

Whilst I don't agree with China's methods, one can see that at the opposite end of the scale, Australia has no means of managing the population or individual actions other than appealing to people's "better nature" so we will see this happening a lot.

Dr Noraliza Binti Mohd Ariffin   18/03/2020 8:35:43 AM

What about our responsibility to 'mandatory' report this?

Dr George Al-Horani   18/03/2020 10:18:23 AM

In Jordan .. the government booked all 5 stars hotels at the Dead Sea resorts , and used them to quarantine all arrivals , then stopped all flights in and out the country ( except of the Cargo ones ) .
So to do a proper quarantine it has to be monitored.

Dr Brenda Elizabeth Steedman   18/03/2020 8:38:28 PM

With regard to the new Telehealth and telephone item numbers, they are a good idea, being targeted at at risk patients who may either have a potential infection with Covid 19 or are at risk of severe disease if they are infected. But what about at risk doctors? It appears we are only allowed to use the item numbers to protect patients but what about protecting vulnerable doctors? Some of US have chronic diseases and I certainly don’t want to pit my depressed immune system against this disease but apparently the Telehealth item numbers don’t apply to me?