“There is no excuse for delay,” Mr Bowen said.
Tender documents show the government spent $2.3 million on coronavirus advertising in March with Sydney media buyer Mediabrands, along with $408,000 to Carbon Media in Brisbane and $56,400 to market research company Snapcracker for “concept testing” of the campaign.
While radio adverts went live on Friday, telling listeners of Melbourne’s 3AW “it’s important to monitor your health” after overseas travel or contact with a confirmed case, the free-to-air television campaign will not go live until next week.
“If you develop flu-like symptoms, fever or cough, seek medical advice and call ahead if going to a doctor,” the advert said.
“If your illness is mild, rest and stay at home.”
The advert urged listeners to “practice good hygiene and stay away from those who are prone to viruses, including older people.”
Dr Moy said Australians needed clear direction on when to self isolate, when to seek medical help or coronavirus testing and how to protect themselves and others from infection, saying clarity and certainty would help people to act in the spirit of solidarity.
“We need national coordination so the messaging at every level is clear,” he said.
Dr Moy said clear advice to GPs on when to test patients – and themselves – was also needed, echoing concerns raised by Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Harry Nespolon.
AMA President Tony Bartone said the public information campaign was the result of “continual advocacy” by the association.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office said the national communications campaign “is being updated to reflect changing circumstances and will be launched in the coming days”.
The federal health department has posted a number of Facebook, WeChat and Weibo messages about the coronavirus in English and Chinese since late January.
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.