Senior Australians have been urged to stay vigilant as the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19 continues.
While the easing of restrictions across most States and Territories means those aged over 65 can start re-engaging in community, senior Victorians should closely follow advice as authorities work to contain emerging clusters.
It comes as the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) updated its advice for the management of health risk as COVID-19 measures lift.
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said vulnerable and older members of every community remained a priority as both Federal and State governments navigated the challenges of the pandemic.
There remains a substantial increase in risk of severe COVID-19 illness in people aged over 70.
“We are not through the woods yet but support measures are in place to ensure senior Australians across the country get the support they need,” Minister Colbeck said.
“We continue to monitor the situation in Victoria and will offer advice as both tiers of government work together to stop the spread and save lives.”
He said elsewhere the stable low number of cases of COVID-19 has permitted progressive relaxation of travel and other distancing restrictions.
“The risk of becoming infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 depends on the chance of being close to someone with COVID-19 or coming into contact with surfaces contaminated by the virus,” Minister Colbeck said.
“Because of this, the local pattern of disease is the most important determinant of risk of contracting COVID-19 illness in any community. If there are no cases or a low number of cases and no evidence of community transmission, then the risk of exposure is low – regardless of age or health conditions.”
Minister Colbeck said in areas outside Victoria, residents previously categorized as at higher risk of becoming ill could return to work and recreation activity provided they followed precautions.
Social distancing, practising good hygiene and downloading the COVIDSafe app were all key to ensuring Australia could prevent significant second wave of infections.
“It is essential that people stay up to date,” Minister Colbeck said. “And, if case numbers do increase, like the recent increase we’ve seen in some areas of Victoria, everyone needs to take personal responsibility for their activities, interactions and to consider how these might affect their exposure to COVID-19.”
Where case have increased residents should consider:
- Individual risk and risk to others;
- The level of transmission of COVID-19 where they live and travel; and
- Which interactions and activities can happen safely or should still be postponed.
“Each person has a personal responsibility to protect themselves, to protect loved ones and the wider community,” Minister Colbeck said.
“People will have different things that are important to them and will be comfortable with different levels of risk.
“Travel to areas with higher case numbers, or going to events with people from areas with higher case numbers, may increase the risk of contracting COVID-19, and people need to carefully consider this.”
He said the Federal Government continues to be guided by the advice of the AHPC.
“We are all closely watching how the outbreak progresses in Victoria and it is important to follow medical advice as it is updated,” Minister Colbeck said.
“We are facing an extraordinary health challenge and we need to work together to protect the people we loved most.”
The new Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line for older Australians is available Monday to Friday, except public holidays from 8.30am to 6.00pm on 1800 171 866.
My Aged Care can be contacted by phone on 1800 200 422 from Monday to Friday 8.00am to 8.00pm and Saturday 10.00am to 2.00pm.
The latest AHPPC advice for vulnerable Australians can be found on the Department of Health website.