Updated 6 April 2020.
COVID-19 (coronavirus) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus. Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat and shortness of breath. Some people recover easily, others may get very sick very quickly. The virus can spread from person to person, but good hygiene can prevent infection.
The Australian Government is taking a range of actions to protect the Australian community from the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
Fact sheets about coronavirus are available from the Department of Health website.
The Coronavirus Health Information Line (1800 020 080) is available for anyone seeking information on the coronavirus. The line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Information for health professionals
COVID-19 NDSS gestational diabetes registration
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be temporary changes to the NDSS gestational diabetes registration process. Read more about COVID-19 NDSS gestational diabetes registration.
Important information for people with diabetes
Diabetes Australia’s website contains the latest information for people with diabetes. This is based on advice provided by the Department of Health and in consultation with Australia’s leading diabetes experts.
If you have additional questions you can contact the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700.
Diabetes Australia and the NDSS are regularly updating their social media pages with information as it becomes available.
Home delivery of medicines and NDSS products by pharmacies
Medicine home delivery services are now available to help vulnerable people stay at home and reduce their exposure to COVID-19.
Participating pharmacies can offer customers with diabetes free delivery of medicines using the Australia Post Express Post network. There is a weight limit for parcels of 500 grams
Vulnerable Australians, including people over 70 and people with chronic health conditions such as diabetes are eligible for the service.
For people with diabetes, participating pharmacies may be able to add your NDSS products to your home delivery of medicines.
Check with your local community pharmacy to see if they are offering this service.
Diabetes Australia thanks community pharmacists and Australia Post for supporting this service during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please visit Australia Post.
For information about home delivery of medicines, please download this fact sheet from the Department of Health.
Telehealth and diabetes
People with diabetes need regular access to their doctor (GP or specialist), their credentialled diabetes educator (CDE) and other health professionals to help manage their diabetes and stay healthy.
In response to COVID-19 the Australian Government is introducing new telehealth services to allow people to have medical, nursing and allied health consultations with their healthcare team without leaving home.
This will make it easy for you to speak with your doctor or diabetes health professional in a telephone or video consultation while you stay at home.
People with diabetes will be able to have telephone or video consultations with GPs, CDEs, nurse practitioners, psychologists and other allied health professionals. This will help people to continue to access essential health services and reduce potential exposure to COVID-19.
Access to these Medicare-funded telehealth services is available from 30 March 2020 until 30 September 2020. All services will be bulk billed so there should be no cost to you.
People with diabetes requiring a medical or other health consultation are encouraged to contact their health professional and discuss telehealth options.
To find out more, please visit the Department of Health website at health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-national-health-plan-primary-care-bulk-billed-mbs-telehealth-services.
NDSS products and diabetes medicines
Diabetes Australia continues to encourage people with diabetes not to stockpile medications or diabetes products. This will help ensure there are enough products available for everyone with diabetes who needs them.
The Australian Government has advised there is no national shortage of NDSS products or insulin or other diabetes-related medicines.
However, in recent weeks there have been very high orders for NDSS products, and some people have ordered more product than they would normally need. This has resulted in some short term local out-of-stock situations in some pharmacies.
As a temporary measure, people will now be able to order three (3) boxes of NDSS products including blood glucose monitoring strips, urine monitoring strips, pen needles, and syringes.
There will also be a limit of two (2) boxes for insulin pump consumables (IPCs) for any order. This includes:
- 2 x boxes of infusion sets or cannulas (an average supply for two months)
- 2 x boxes of reservoirs/ cartridges (an average supply for two months).
For the vast majority of people with diabetes, these limits represent well over one month’s supply.
There may be some exceptions where people may need more than these supply amounts, such as people living remotely. People who need to order more than these amounts should contact the NDSS Helpline on 1800 637 700.
Access to continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and Flash GM (FreeStyle Libre) products through the NDSS remain unchanged.
This page will be updated regularly should there be changes to product availability.
Please visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration website for the latest information about the availability of diabetes medicines.
Automatic six month extension for access to Blood Glucose Monitoring Strips (BGTS) through the NDSS
To make it easier for people with type 2 diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Government is suspending the requirement for a Blood Glucose Test Strip (BGTS) Six Month Approval form to be completed by your doctor or credentialled diabetes educator (CDE).
Effective from 3 April 2020, an automatic six-month extension will be provided for all people with type 2 diabetes not using insulin.
This means people with type 2 diabetes who do not use insulin will not need to have a form completed by a health professional to receive subsidised access to BGTS. People will need to simply visit their local pharmacy (NDSS Access Point) the next time they need to access BGTS. Note: people may be able to avoid a visit and should ask their pharmacy if they can deliver the BGTS along with their medicines to their home.
People with diabetes are still encouraged to contact their doctor or CDE to discuss blood glucose monitoring and any changes to their diabetes management they may need during COVID-19. Health professionals including GPs and CDEs are offering telephone and online appointments for people with diabetes during this period.
This is a temporary arrangement during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Signing of NDSS forms – temporary change
To make things easier during the COVID-19 pandemic, people with diabetes will no longer need to sign some NDSS forms to access services and diabetes products.
Health professionals will be able to complete forms without the need for co-signing by the person with diabetes. This temporary change will include:
- NDSS Registration form
- Medication Change form
- Continuous and Flash Glucose Monitoring Eligibility Assessment forms
- Insulin Pump Consumable Assessment form
In addition, the requirement for a Blood Glucose Test Strip (BGTS) Six Month Approval form to be completed has been temporarily suspended. This means people with type 2 diabetes who do not use insulin will not need to have a form completed by a health professional to receive subsidised access to BGTS through the NDSS.
The only NDSS form that people with diabetes will be required to sign is the Personal Details Update form which is needed if a person is changing their name. Supporting documents will also need to be provided.
This is a temporary arrangement during the COVID-19 pandemic designed to make things easier for people with diabetes.
You can access all forms here.
Managing worry about COVID-19 and diabetes
We know things might be a little scary and uncertain at the moment. Your experience of living with diabetes, and the stresses and uncertainties it brings, means you are likely to be better prepared to cope with this situation than most people. If you find yourself worrying, it might help to focus on the things that you can control in your life.
Read more in our fact sheet Managing worry about COVID-19 and diabetes.
We are extending the hours for the NDSS National Helpline 1800 637 700 to be able to give greater support for people with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new hours are:
Monday to Friday – 8:30am to 8:00pm
Saturday – 9:00am to 2:00pm
If you have any questions about COVID-19 and your diabetes, you need a bit of extra support, or you are struggling with your diabetes management during this time—please don’t hesitate to call the Helpline on 1800 637 700 where you can:
- talk to a health professional about managing your diabetes
- get advice about specific diabetes information related to COVID-19
- find out how to access health services and support during this time
- discuss access to NDSS products and diabetes medications.
From 20 March 2020, all NDSS face-to-face education and support programs and activities have been postponed. We are currently considering alternative ways to deliver these programs including webinars and other online activities.
Sick days and diabetes
Coronavirus has many of the same symptoms as the flu. These symptoms can affect your blood glucose levels and that’s why now is a good time to review your diabetes sick day management plan.
It’s important to be prepared before you get sick – have a personalised sick day action plan and sick day management kit ready to use at the earliest sign of illness.
Make an appointment with your doctor, diabetes educator or another member of your diabetes healthcare team to help you prepare your plan.
For additional information:
Read the NDSS fact sheet Managing sick days for type 1 diabetes.
Read the NDSS fact sheet Living with type 2 diabetes – what to do when you are sick.
There is a large amount of unverified information circulating on social media. It is important that you seek information on coronavirus from trusted sources.
Visit the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Information Page. It is regularly updated with the latest information.
The information on our NDSS page (this page) is based on the advice provided on the above page (Australian Government’s Coronavirus Information Page).
If you have questions about coronavirus please call the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. The Helpline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you are concerned with the availability of diabetes medicines please visit the Therapeutic Goods Administration website for the latest information.