A new telephone helpline to assist patients with suspected Covid-19 opens tomorrow, Friday 20 March at 6am. The service will coordinate enquiries from members of the public and streamline the process of assessing symptoms and sending individuals for testing.
The line is a clinical not a general helpline and people are urged to first complete an online assessment on www.gov.im/coronavirus which will determine whether or not they should call 111. This means only those people with symptoms associated with Covid-19 - a new continuous cough and a fever - should call, after completing the online triage form.
Staff working in teams will take calls on 20 lines initially and the service will be open between 6am and 10pm seven days a week. Outside those times, people should call the Manx Emergency Doctor Service (MEDS) and in a medical emergency they should call 999. The line is for Covid-19 issues only and is not set up to deal with any other medical enquiries.
Call handlers will refer those whose conditions need further assessment to a clinician, who will decide if a test needs to be carried out. From tomorrow, people needing tests will be directed to a mobile unit where swabs will be taken. Where a test isn’t applicable, people may be asked to self-isolate, and advice will be given on what the patient and their family should do next.
The call centre has been developed in little over a week, thanks to a unique collaboration between government and the private sector, where IT expertise and call centre modelling skills have been pooled. Staff from the Department of Health and Social Care are being deployed to answer phones at the call centre, having been trained in the response and pathways to follow.