27 May 2020
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that the legal requirement on GPs to alert Public Health England (PHE) of any "suspected" cases of Coronavirus, which was listed as a "notifiable" disease at the beginning of March, remains in force.
The Government's instructions on notifiable diseases state that registered medical practitioners (RMPs) have a statutory duty to notify the "proper officer" at their local council or local health protection team (HPT) of suspected cases of certain infectious diseases. It states that "accuracy of diagnosis is secondary" and clinical suspicion of a notifiable infection is all that is required.
Earlier this week, the UK’s Chief Medical Officers added anosmia, the loss of taste and smell, to the list of symptoms that should prompt people to self-isolate due to possible COVID-19.
GPs have, meanwhile, raised concerns over the practicality of the arrangements when the Coronavirus has become so widespread in the community; latest figures show more than two million people were tested for suspected Coronavirus in the UK, of which over 250,000 were found to be positive.
Primary Care Network Clinical Director and East London GP Dr Farzana Hussain told "Pulse" magazine that reporting suspected, rather than proven, cases did not make sense especially as symptoms of COVID-19 are too wide-ranging. She said that, with Coronavirus so widespread in the community, GPs may be struggling to follow PHE's requirement "robustly".