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Barwon Health / Barwon South West Public Health Unit

(03) 4215 4000

Antivirals and treating COVID-19

Barwon Health now has a dedicated hotline for people in the Barwon South West region to contact if they have concerns about their health status and are not able to get hold of their GP.

Call 1300 942 241 between 8:30am and 4:30pm, 7 days a week.

What are antivirals?

Antiviral medications reduce the risk of severe disease, hospital admission and death. They may also reduce the risk of you passing on COVID to your household.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive antiviral treatment if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, and meet the eligibility criteria.

How can I access antivirals?

Antiviral medications are available for COVID-19 positive people at risk of severe disease.
The eligibility criteria for receiving the COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments have now been expanded with effect from 11 July 2022.

You may now be eligible to access antiviral medication.

Antiviral medications reduce the risk of severe disease, hospital admission and death. They may also reduce the risk of you passing on COVID to your household.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive anti-viral treatment if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, and meet any of the following criteria*:

  • People who are moderately immunocompromised
  • People aged 50 years or older; or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 30 years or older
  • People with chronic medical comorbidities
  • People with significant physical or intellectual disabilities requiring residential care

*Every indivual aged 70 years or over who test positive to COVID-19, with or without symptoms, are able to access these oral antivirals on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

If you are eligible, treatment needs to start as soon as possible within 5 days of your symptoms starting.

Children with significant medical comorbidities and pregnant women are also advised to contact their GP.

The best way to quickly get access to this medication is by arranging a tele-health appointment with your GP and discussing this with them. Prior to becoming unwell, the Barwon South West Public Health Unit also recommends discussing your COVID treatment plan with your GP, should you be diagnosed with COVID.

If you are unable to contact your GP, you can contact a Respiratory Clinic for a telehealth appointment on (03) 9975 8401.

For any other concerns phone 1300 942 241.

For general information on antivirals and the type of medications available check out the Victorian Department of Health website here.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Many people who contract COVID–19 will suffer only mild symptoms. However early indications are that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.

The most common coronavirus symptoms reported include:

  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties such as breathlessness
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste.

I am feeling unwell, what should I do?

If you are in any of these risk categories and begin to feel unwell and develop a fever or shortness of breath, a cough or respiratory illness you should seek immediate medical attention.

Call ahead to your GP or emergency department so they can prepare appropriate infection control measures.

If you have serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, call 000 and ask for an ambulance and tell the operator your recent travel history.

I have been asked to isolate, what does this mean?

This document has been developed for people who have been asked to isolate due to COVID-19. 

If you are concerned please call the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 or the Barwon Health hotline on 1300 942 241 between 8:30am and 4:30pm, 7 days a week.

What can I do to reduce my risk of coronavirus infection?

  • Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
  • Stay at home if you feel sick. If you take medication make sure you have enough.
  • Phone your doctor or the hotline – 1800 675 398 – if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.
  • Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep.

COVID-19 and family violence

It is important that anyone experiencing family violence knows that this is never okay, no matter the circumstances or the situation. With the impact of physical distancing rules, isolation and stress on families, there has been a spike in reports of domestic violence in the broader community. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence and need help or support, please seek help. 

Call 000 for police if you are in immediate danger.

To find local services near you and phone support lines: Barwon Health Family Violence resources

Last Modified: Thursday, 21 July 2022