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RCGP RSC COVID-19 Surveillance

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, we have been working closely with Public Health England (PHE) and other national bodies to closely monitor and make plans to deal with any situation that may develop in the UK. A vital part of that will be to monitor the number of suspected COVID-19 cases in the community in a timely way. PHE has commissioned the RCGP Research Surveillance Centre to incorporate monitoring of COVID-19 into its virology surveillance scheme.

Practices should manage suspected cases according to PHE guidance, generally this involves signposting to NHS111.

Visit the Center of Evidence-Based Medicine web page for evidence synthesis and dissemination to support the current COVID-19 pandemic


RCGP RSC COVID-19 Observatory

We now have an observatory to track Coronavirus (COVID-19, also known as 2019-nCov).
For this observatory to work, it is vital that practices code information correctly. Please see further details about coding below.

COVID-19 Observatory (Weekly return)

RCGP RSC virology sampling practices

Please follow the advice as outlined above.

Sampling will continue as usual in patients presenting with influenza-like illness (ILI) and acute bronchitis or bronchiolitis symptoms in under 5 year olds.

We have now extended this to include Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI).

Please ensure patients exhibiting these symptoms, are swabbed within 7 days of onset, and ensure LRTI or symptoms are added as free text in ‘other comments’ on the PHE lab form.

N.B. Practices should only be sampling from low risk patients they would be seeing anyway.  Practice teams should be signposting people who have returned from overseas travel to high risk areas or who have been in contact with Covid-19 cases to NHS111.

The goal of our surveillance is to detect background spread to apparently low risk patients.  Detecting this virus (which would otherwise have been missed) should result in making things safer for your practice, the patient sampled and their household, than would otherwise have been the case.

Prompt cards for Virology Practices (MS Word format)
Triage prompt card for self-swabbing (MS Word format)

Coronavirus (Covid-19): Recording essential information in General Practice – advice for all general practices – including all RCGP RSC general practices

In early February 2020 new terms were added to all general practice computerised medical record (CMR) systems to support the recording of data relevant to COVID-19.

We would recommend that everyone involved in recording information relating to COVID-19 in computerised medical records (eg. EMIS, Systm One, Vision) should follow the advice below.  Note that depending on the system that you use, the entry of ‘Influenza like illness’ may trigger a template to help you to do this:

  1. If patient is suspected of having Coronavirus select and enter the term: Suspected 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
  2. Please ask if they have been abroad in the last 28 days.

If yes, select and enter: History of foreign travel
Then select and enter the actual countries they have visited.

  1. If patient has had contact with, or been exposed to,  a person with Coronavirus select and enter the term : Exposure to 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
  2. Where a patient is self-isolating please select and enter the term: [V]Need for isolation and other prophylactic measures
  3. If patient has been referred for testing please select and enter the term: Tested for 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
  4. If patient has confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection for example with a positive test result please select and enter the term: Confirmed 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
  5. If the test results for a patient are returned as negative then please select and enter the term: Excluded 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection

COVID-19 dashboard for RCGP RSC Practices can be accessed through the My Practice Dashboard

Prompt cards for RCGP RSC Practices (MS Word format)

In ENGLAND, NHSE have now set up a PPE supply and distribution helpline. If you are experiencing shortages then you can contact 0800 915 9964 /0191 283 6543 or email: this service is operating 24/7.

FAQs related to COVID-19 Surveillance
If you have any questions, please check our FAQs prior to emailing the PLO team

Ordering materials
We are no longer able to receive material requests through the PLO email account.
Could you kindly order materials using the link below, and ensure all fields are complete.
Order materials

How to install flu template

EMIS practices:
Please find instructions (video) here: Link

Please email if you require the EMIS template. This will be emailed as an zipped folder (attachment).

TTP practices:
The flu swabbing template and protocol are available on the SystmOne Resource Library and can be downloaded and published for use by SystmOne practices.

You can find these resources by accessing the Resource Library via the ‘System’ menu and search using the term RCGP. Practices are welcome to download and publish these resources locally but must ensure they are fit for purpose and support local processes.  

1. C&P RCGP Influenza Vaccination – View
2. C&P RCGP Data entry template – Template
3. C&P RCGP Flu Swab word letter template
4. C&P RCGP Flu Swab protocol

Please note that this was kindly developed by Peterborough Primary Care Trust.

Recording essential information relating to Covid-19

The terms to be used for COVID-19 surveillance were provided by the emergency terminology release in February 2020 and are as follows:

Category Code
Definite case (Confirmed) Confirmed 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
Possible case (Investigating) Exposure to 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
Suspected 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
Tested for 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection
Not a case (Excluded) Excluded 2019-nCoV (Wuhan) infection