Hi. I'm Dr Lucas De Toca, from the Department of Health and Aged Care, speaking from Ngunnawal dhawura, Ngunnawal country. Today, I want to talk to you about COVID-19 oral treatments, the ones that you take as a tablet or capsule, especially for First Nations people and people living in remote communities. COVID-19 treatments are for all Australians at risk of severe illness, not just those in cities. The government has worked in partnership with Aboriginal Health Services to preplace supplies of COVID-19 medicines in every corner of the country. We have also worked with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and local pharmacies to help ensure supply to some of the most remote parts of Australia. COVID spreads fast, and as COVID-safe and travel restrictions have eased and borders have opened up, the risk of COVID infection and unfortunately even reinfection to those who may have had it before, has grown. And while for most people, symptoms are mild and manageable, there are groups in the community which are at risk of serious disease. It's those groups which will benefit the most from oral treatments.
Let's look at who is eligible. If you are over 65 or you're a First Nations person over 50, or if you are over 18 and have a health condition like diabetes, chronic health disease, lung disease, kidney disease, or if you live in an area with reduced access to health care, you may be eligible. So the take-home message is: Treatments are for people most at risk. And if you are an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person, that means being over 50 and having two risk factors like living far away from a major hospital or having diabetes, kidney or lung disease. The other point to remember is timing. If you are eligible for treatment, you must start the tablets or capsules within five days of your first symptoms when you test positive.
So if you get cold or flu symptoms, this is not the time to muck around. Test early for COVID-19, so you can start treatment early. Along with vaccination, that is the best way to stay out of hospital and recover faster if you do get sick. The medicines will not work properly if you wait a week or more before taking them after your positive test. If you're a First Nations person over 50 and have one or more risk factors, talk to your doctor, health care worker or local nurse to find out more about these treatments. They can also help you get access to PCR testing or rapid antigen tests so that you and your family have them at home in case someone gets sick. Remember, test early and treat early. And if you have that conversation with your health care provider beforehand, so that you know you're eligible for these treatments, then they can get the script for you as soon as you test positive or have symptoms. For more information, go to health.gov.au as always, and thank you for watching.
Top 3 questions:
- Who is eligible to receive oral treatments for COVID-19?
- When should you start taking oral treatments?
- How you can access these treatments in rural or remote areas?