Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19

We know it's a challenging time and that you may have questions about COVID-19 and your cancer treatment.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions which may assist you.

If you have further questions are on active treatment please call your Patient Navigator and if you're not on active treatment you can get all your questions answered about COVID-19 and cancer by specialist cancer nurses at Cancer Council Australia. 

You should still attend your appointments and we’re taking steps to ensure Peter Mac is a safe place for our patients, visitors and staff.

You are asked to help by practising social distancing, to not stay any longer than is necessary and by travelling to Peter Mac via the most direct route.

Please carry with you a letter from your doctor or other evidence of your appointment – in addition to your personal ID, like a drivers’ license or Medicare card – should you encounter a traffic checkpoint.

When you arrive, you’ll see we’re checking the temperatures of all patients, visitors and staff on entry.

You’ll also be provided with a mask and asked to wear this for the duration of your visit.  Visitors are asked to review our visitor limits in place to safeguard our patients against the virus.

I live in metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire. What should I do if I need to come in?

Yes, you can still come to your appointment, or visit a loved one, at Peter Mac. One of the approved reasons to be moving about is to access healthcare or for caregiving. 

I live outside of the “lockdown” zone or in regional Victoria. Can I still come in?

Yes, you can still come to your appointment, or visit a loved one, at Peter Mac.

There is no restriction on entering metro Melbourne and one of the approved reasons to be moving about is to access healthcare or for caregiving. If you’re a visitor, it is worth considering that you may be travelling from an area with no or very low COVID-19 community transmission and into an area where there is community transmission.

Please make a careful decision about visitation at this time, including whether a video call could be a better option. Please also review our visitor limits in place to safeguard our patients against the virus.

I live in another state or territory. What should I do if I need to visit Peter Mac?

Peter Mac remains open to patients - and visitors - from interstate, however each state and territory has different restrictions and exemption protocols affecting travel into Victoria. Your home state or territory is also likely to have rules affecting how you can return home. This may include a quarantine period or obtaining a permit, and these rules may change at short notice.  The best place to access this information is through your state or territory Health Department or Police Department. Or check the links below, for people in:

Please also review the current restrictions in Victoria

When you travel across a border, it is essential that you carry a letter from your doctor or other evidence of your appointment at Peter Mac. This is in addition to your personal ID, like a drivers’ license or Medicare card. If you’re a visitor, it is worth considering that you may be travelling from an area with no or very low COVID-19 community transmission and into an area where this is community transmission. Please make a careful decision about visitation at this time, including whether a video call could be a better option.  Please also review our visitor limits in place to safeguard our patients against the virus.

The COVID-19 virus is spread between people in tiny droplets in a sneeze or cough or from direct prolonged contact with someone who has the infection. The virus can also live on surfaces so it’s important that you practice good hand hygiene and avoid touching your face.

At Peter Mac we’ve massively increased cleaning and have dozens of new hand sanitiser stations across the centre to assist with this. 

Patients and visitors are also required to wear a mask for the duration of their time in the building. These will be handed out at the door with instructions on how to wear it correctly.

Cancer treatment, for example chemotherapy, can lower the immune system. 

If you are currently undergoing or have recently undergone cancer treatment you may have a weaker immune system and it’s therefore important that you take additional precautions to reduce your risk of infection from COVID-19.

It’s important to be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19  and to contact your treating team by phone if you are starting to feel unwell for further advice. 

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing you should call 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

If you are not currently receiving treatment for your cancer but are worried about COVID-19 please contact the Cancer Council Australia hotline on 13 11 20.

Cancer is a high priority ‘category one’ condition and most cancer cases require prompt action.

It is normal and understandable to be anxious about visiting a hospital or treatment facility at this time, but Peter Mac is working closely with Victorian government to do everything possible to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

We have robust infection prevention measures in place including screening at entry points, increased cleaning and social distancing measures in our waiting areas.

We have also massively increased the use of telehealth consultations to reduce the amount of people needing to come into the building for follow-ups. 

Delaying treatment may impact outcomes so it’s important to speak with your treating team if you have any concerns.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used to prevent the ‘spread’ or transmission of infections between patients, healthcare workers (HCW) and the surrounding environment.

Examples of PPE include: gloves, long sleeved gowns, eye/face protection and masks.

You'll see all Peter Mac staff are wearing masks, and additional PPE is worn in certain settings in accordance with latest Department of Health and Human Services directives. 

Good hand hygiene is the best defence against COVID-19 and we continue to closely monitor people entering our building at the screening points to minimise risk. 

Why aren't all healthcare workers wearing the same PPE?

There are national guidelines provided to healthcare services regarding the use of PPE by staff. These guidelines ensure the safety of patients and HCWs.

The use of PPE by staff is determined by the degree of risk of exposure to infection. In the setting of the COVID pandemic, use of specific elements of PPE is determined by whether a patient meets high-risk criteria (e.g. recent travel), the clinical status of a patient (e.g. presence of cough), and the nature of any procedures being performed in a health care setting.

Gloves and gowns are typically used when the HCW is at risk of touching blood or bodily fluids.

These would be worn if a patient was unwell with respiratory symptoms (e.g. coughing, sneezing).

Eye and face protection is used when a HCW may be at risk of a splash of blood or bodily fluids during a procedure. Masks are used to protect a HCW from either a splash exposure of droplets or from inhaling potential tiny particles in the air.

Should I use PPE myself?

All patients and visitors are required to wear a mask in the Peter Mac building for the duration of their visit. You will be provided with a mask and instructions on how to wear it when you present for a temperature check at the entrance. 

DHHS is providing regular advice around preventing transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19)

In line with DHHS guidlines we are allowing one visitor per patient, once per day for a maximum of two hours. 

Please remember to keep a safe social distance of 1.5 metres from our staff and patients at all times when visiting Peter Mac.

It’s important that you’re well informed and reading the most reliable information about COVID-19.

The Department of Health and Human Services  has comprehensive information about COVID-19 and if you have general questions about cancer and COVID-19 there are resources available from Cancer Council Australia.

If you have specific questions relating to your cancer or treatment, please contact your Patient Navigator.