Update on COVID-19: What you need to know
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 3 April 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)
- 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?
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.
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 will temporarily close the majority of its retail stores from 5pm Saturday 4 April. Retail store staff will continue helping customers, but through phone or online channels and by processing financial hardship applications.
Seven stores across Australia will 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)
The health, safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff is our utmost priority. As the situation with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has evolved, we will continue to implement precautionary measures in these stores, 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.
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.
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 minimise 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.
For our Bupa Dental patients, in line with the latest clinical and regulatory advice to the dental profession, and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, we’re postponing all non-urgent routine dental treatment until after the pandemic has been controlled.
Our dental practitioners will continue to play a vital role in safely treating and caring for patients who have urgent and essential dental needs, as well as managing those in pain and dental emergencies.
If you have an enquiry, or need urgent and essential dental care, please call your local Bupa Dental practice.
Optical & Hearing
For our Bupa Optical & Hearing customers, we believe it’s our duty of care to temporarily close a number of our Bupa Optical & Hearing stores. Stores will close from Friday 3 April. The last day for appointments in those stores will be Thursday 2 April and the closure will initially last for 4 weeks to Friday 1 May.
- For stores that are temporarily closing, appointments scheduled after Thursday 2 April and before Friday 1 May will be cancelled and rescheduled at a later date.
- Some stores will remain open to provide urgent eye care. You can find out which stores are open here. If you have needs that can’t wait, you can also contact us on 1300 664 142.
- Customers can purchase our full range of contact lenses online, as well as selected sunglasses and prescription glasses. We’ll also offer extended returns – up to 90 days. Visit our Bupa Optical website.
Bupa Medical Visa Servcies
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.
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.