Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology

COVID-19 Updates

A message from the President on COVID-19 – Updated 4 April 2020

The ANZSN continues to closely monitor the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak recognising our Society’s membership is part of the medical efforts being put in place to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The wellbeing of our patients, our colleagues and the broader community is foremost in our minds and our thoughts go out to all affected by and working on the front line to manage the response to the virus. 

If Members have any questions or would like access to planning documents, then please contact the ANZSN Office at anzsn@nephrology.edu.au.

What’s new

ANZSN COVID-19 Dialysis Preparedness Checklist
The ANZSN COVID-19 Dialysis Preparedness Checklist is for use by renal unit senior management teams in Australia and New Zealand to assist them in considering key components of COVID-19 contingency planning for their units.
The checklist has been adapted for Australian and New Zealand renal units from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outpatient Dialysis Facility Preparedness Assessment Tool.
The topics in this checklist are intended to cover major themes that should be considered.
The checklist is for general information only and is not a list of mandatory requirements. It is recognised that each unit will have specific circumstances and challenges that will require local solutions.
You can find the checklist here.
Thank you to the COVID-19 Working Group for preparing the checklist, in particular, Drew Henderson, Nick Gray, Kevan Polkinghorne and Jonathan Hosking who led on the initiative.

ANZSN and TSANZ COVID-19 Forum #3 – 1 April 2020
Thank you to everyone who joined our third COVID-19 Forum on 1 April.
It was great to welcome representatives from the Renal Society of Australasia and also from Kidney Health Australia and Kidney Health New Zealand
Key matters discussed at the Forum:

Discussion at the Forum highlighted areas for the Working Group to focus on, including Workforce and PPE (as priorities) along with AKI and K+ chelators.
The next ANZSN COVID-19 Forum will be held on Wednesday 8 April at 5.30pm AEDT.
Zoom details will be provided to Members via email. Please contact the ANZSN Office via email: anzsn@nephrology.edu.au if you need to dial in details.

Letter to the Australian State, Territory and Federal Ministers for Health – Suspension of elective surgery
On 1 April, the ANZSN wrote to the RACP and the Australian State, Territory and Federal Ministers for Health about the Federal Government’s mandated temporary suspension of surgery the implications for renal patients. 

The letter requests that renal patients requiring surgery to insert peritoneal dialysis catheters or create vascular access for haemodialysis be classed as Category 1 patients. A copy of our letter to Minister Hunt can be found here.

ANZSN COVID-19 Working Group
Thank you to all those who applied to join our COVID-19 Working Group. You can view the membership here.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)
A list of the initiatives that the RACP is leading on behalf of its Members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.

ANZSN Office Staff – Contact Details
The ANZSN staff are working from home and are contactable on M:0447 118 585.

Working with Governments to ensure a coordinated response
The ANZSN has written to the Commonwealth Minister for Health and the New Zealand Minister for Health, offering its expertise in supporting each jurisdiction provide a coordinated response to the management of patients with end stage kidney disease.

A letter has also been sent to every State and Territory Health Minister asking each jurisdiction to engage with local Nephrologists to develop a coordinated, regional based response in order to promote and support dialysis patients and staff.

Following the ANZSN COVID-19 Forum on 18 March, a follow-up letter was sent to all State and Territory Health Ministers and the New Zealand Minister for Health on 20 March urging the following actions:

On 1 April, the ANZSN wrote to the RACP and the Australian State, Territory and Federal Ministers for Health about the Federal Government’s mandated temporary suspension of surgery the implications for renal patients.  The letter requests that renal patients requiring surgery to insert peritoneal dialysis catheters or create vascular access for haemodialysis be classed as Category 1 patients. A copy of our letter to Minister Hunt can be found here.

Working with Industry to secure dialysis supplies
We are in the process of writing to all the major suppliers of dialysis fluids and consumables to encourage them to review and secure their supply chains in readiness. Operational updates from Baxter Healthcare and Fresenius are regularly being received and reviewed. We will ensure that significant issues will be relayed to the membership.

TSANZ - Communiques
The TSANZ’s National Transplantation and Donation Rapid Response Taskforce Weekly Communique No 3 can be found here.

The Taskforce will meet every Tuesday to review what is happening in the transplantation and donation space, and we will provide updates as they come to hand.

Supporting ANZDATA in Tracking Patients 
The ANZSN has extended its support to ANZDATA which will be collecting real time cases of COVID-19 affected end stage kidney disease patients commencing Monday 16 March 2020.

ANZDATA will liaise directly with Heads of Department to establish the data collection, which will allow the epidemiology of cases in Australia and New Zealand to be tracked.

As at 1 April, ANZDATA has recorded four COVID-19 positive patients (three transplant patients and one haemodialysis patient).

Impact on the Society’s Operations and Activities
As a Society we are working to assess and monitor the range of possible impacts on our day to day operations and particularly activities such as our conferences and education courses.

Appropriate adjustments and decisions will be made as required and any changes that may affect Members will be detailed and communicated via direct email, our Weekly Update and on our website as soon as possible.

Postponement of our 2020 ASM
The ANZSN remains committed to holding its Annual Scientific Meeting in 2020 and we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in order to take a measured approach.

The safety of our Members remains our priority, and with this in mind, a decision has been taken to postpone the 2020 ASM.

The meeting will now be tentatively held in Hobart, from 28 November – 2 December 2020, the COVID-19 situation permitting. A final decision will be made in June 2020.

We will continue to review the situation, but at this time remain hopeful that the ASM will proceed at this later date.

We believe it is important that as a Society, we do everything we can to provide Members with an opportunity to come together to learn, network and celebrate our achievements in basic and clinical science.

The ASM website will be updated as soon as possible, and the dates for the submission of abstracts and early bird registration extended accordingly.

Thank you to the members of our Scientific Program and Awards Committee and the 2020 ASM Local Organising Committee, without whom our ASM would not be possible.

Organising a meeting as large as the ASM is complex and demanding, and we greatly value the significant contribution that our volunteer Committee members make to the meeting’s success.

2020 New Zealand Chapter Meeting - Cancelled
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the severe and likely to be extended restrictions on gatherings in place, the New Zealand Chapter Meeting set down for October 2020 has been cancelled. Thank you to the Local Organising Committee who will now focus on the planning of the 2021 event in Auckland.

Postponement of our 2020 Basic and Advanced Courses
In view of the rapidly changing environment, including increasing COVID-19 travel and other restrictions, the Advanced Course (9-10 May, 2020) and the Basic Course (20-21 June, 2020) have been postponed.

Our aim is to reschedule these two courses for dates to be advised in November or December 2020.  

We are in discussion with the RACP about any potential consequences on the training requirements of our Advanced Trainees should the two education courses not proceed this year.

Those affected by the decision to postpone the courses have been contacted directly by the ANZSN Office.
  
Keeping abreast of developments
As the situation with COVID-19 continues to unfold we encourage our Members to keep abreast of developments, particularly within your own jurisdiction. 

It is recommended that you refer to your local health department website (links below) to ensure that you are accessing the most recent resources, updates and information.

Australia
https://www.health.gov.au/
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/australian-capital-territory-department-of-health
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/new-south-wales-department-of-health
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/northern-territory-department-of-health
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/queensland-department-of-health
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/south-australian-department-of-health
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/tasmanian-department-of-health
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/victorian-department-of-health
https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/western-australian-department-of-health

Launch of the COVID-19 app and WhatsApp feature

Search “Coronavirus Australia” in the Apple Store and on GooglePlay for the latest information from the Australian government on the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealand
https://www.health.govt.nz/
https://covid19.govt.nz/

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)
A list of the initiatives that the RACP is leading on behalf of its Members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.

Other information

Australia – Significant expansion of telehealth items announced
Following extensive advocacy by the RACO, the Commonwealth has announced whole of population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services to support the response to COVID-19. Find out more here.

Information for patients and carers
Kidney patients and their carers can find information on COVID-19 at the following websites: