01
April
2020
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08:34
Australia/Melbourne

Update on COVID-19: What you need to know

Summary

The challenge posed by coronavirus (COVID-19) is evolving rapidly, as are the protocols provided by government and other public authorities. That’s why Bupa is taking decisive action to help protect our people, our customers and our aged care residents at this difficult time.

 

Detailed below are some facts about COVID-19 and what it means for Bupa customers.

Updated 26 May 2020

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold, to more severe conditions such as pneumonia, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The strain of the novel (new) coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)) that has caused the outbreak originating in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China causes a disease now named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 for short).

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms caused by this coronavirus are like those you would have with the flu and can include:

  • fever (high temperature)
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat

In more severe cases the virus can cause pneumonia and death. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with respiratory disease.

When should I seek help?

If you have travelled from overseas in the last 14 days or you have had contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19, and you are experiencing flu-like symptoms (such as fever, coughing, sore throat or shortness of breath), seek medical attention immediately.

In Australia, please ring and let your doctor know about your symptoms and your travel or contact history or call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 for further instructions.

In New Zealand, please self-isolate and contact the dedicated COVID-19 Healthline number (for free) on 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs. They will provide you with further instructions.

How can I protect myself?

Actions that can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 are also similar to those taken to combat the seasonal flu and include:

  • Keep a distance (more than 1.5m) from others, especially from anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing
  • Respiratory etiquette i.e. coughing and sneezing into tissues or your upper sleeve. Dispose of tissues immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
  • Performing hand hygiene i.e. regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using alcohol-based hand rubs if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Where can I find out the latest information?

The Australian Government’s Department of Health and the New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Health are the best places to get the latest information on the coronavirus.

Information for Bupa customers, residents and their families, and our people

At Bupa, we are also closely monitoring government advice and regularly updating our teams so they can assist customers and residents if needed.

We are also preparing for future developments, should they occur, to ensure the health and safety of our people, our residents and our customers are prioritised.

Health Insurance

For our health insurance customers, Bupa has frozen premium increases for all customers (read more here). We will also be providing more than $50m in assistance for customers suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19. All Bupa customers with a hospital policy will be covered for COVID-19 related claims, irrespective of the terms of that policy (read more here).

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bupa temporarily closed the majority of its retail stores from 5pm Saturday 4 April. Retail store staff are continuing to help customers through phone or online channels and by processing financial hardship applications.

Seven stores across Australia remain open to service customers, these locations include:

  • Collins Street (VIC)
  • Swanston Street (VIC)
  • Chatswood (NSW)
  • Barangaroo (NSW)
  • Brisbane CBD (QLD)
  • Perth CBD (WA)
  • Rundle Mall (SA)

As a result of temporary store closures and the widespread adoption of physical distancing practices, we are seeing more customers calling contact centres. This is leading to short delays at times and we ask for your patience as we respond to customer queries.

From 1 June, we will gradually re-open all of our 75 retail stores with the health and safety of our customers and staff our number one priority. These openings will take place on a state-by-state basis as follows:

Monday 1 June: Retail stores in QLD, ACT, SA and NT will re-open

Tuesday 2 June: Retail stores in WA will re-open

Tuesday 9 June: Retail stores in NSW will re-open

Monday 15 June: Retail stores in VIC and TAS will re-open

To ensure the safety of our customers and staff, we will implement strict hygiene and social distancing measures to minimise the risk of exposure. If you:

  • Have had contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Have arrived in Australia from overseas in the last 14 days
  • Are feeling unwell with flu like symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat

We ask that you please do not visit our store and instead call us on 134 135 or visit bupa.com.au to resolve your enquiry. As the situation evolves, these measures and list of open stores may change as deemed necessary and we will keep you updated as required.

Aged Care

For our aged care residents and their families, we are very mindful of the need to take every possible step to protect our aged care residents from coronavirus (COVID-19). We have strong infection control measures in place across our care homes and have introduced new rules to limit visits to care homes to help protect the safety of our residents and employees. Read more on the latest Bupa Aged Care updates here.

We also want to help our residents feel connected during this time. See how you and your family can get involved by sending letters and pictures to our residents here.

Dental

For our Bupa Dental patients, in line with the latest clinical and regulatory advice to the dental profession, we’re open and again able to take appointments for all your dental care needs, whether a preventive dental check-up, or treatment that you were mid-way through or would like to commence. 

Bupa has implemented a number of safety measures to help minimise risk of COVID-19 exposure within our dental practices. These include:

  • Standard infection control procedures to reduce the spread of any infection;
  • The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all treatments such as standard level 2 surgical masks, protective eyewear and gloves;
  • Strengthened cleaning procedures, including actively promoting the regular use of antibacterial hand sanitiser and surface wipes;
  • Stringent personal hygiene measures for our people;
  • Requesting patients reschedule their appointment if they are or have recently been unwell, or are experiencing any flu-like symptoms; and
  • Touch free temperature checks for our patients.

If you have an enquiry, please call your local Bupa Dental practice.

Optical & Hearing

For our Bupa Optical & Hearing customers, we are reopening the 25 Bupa Optical & Hearing stores that temporarily closed. A staged approach to reopening has been adopted to reflect the different circumstances and Government guidelines in each state.

Stores in Queensland and South Australia recommencing trade on Monday 25 May, followed by stores in New South Wales (Monday 1 June) and Victoria (Tuesday 9 June).

Hearing services will also resume when each store reopens (for those stores with Hearing services).

We have increased our cleaning and hygiene measures to ensure our stores are safe for you and our team, including:

  • Hand sanitiser
  • 1.5 metre physical distancing
  • Limited customers instore
  • Increased cleaning.

Find out more about which stores are open here. Customers can also purchase our full range of contact lenses online, as well as selected sunglasses and prescription glasses. Visit our Bupa Optical website.

Bupa Medical Visa Services

For customers who either require or have booked a visa medical examination, please refer to our Bupa Medical Visa Services website for the latest update.

Our people

In our corporate offices, we have encouraged all office-based employees to work from home. Whilst there are some exceptions to this approach, such as our customer contact centres and key technology support roles, we’re doing our best to make sure the work environment is as safe as possible by minimising hot desking, introducing additional cleaning services, and ensuring social distancing protocols are observed.

We have also introduced additional special leave provisions for full-time, part-time and casual employees to access up to two weeks’ of COVID-19 paid discretionary leave, depending on their individual circumstances.

Read more from Hisham El-Ansary, CEO, Bupa ANZ here.