Today’s edition includes information regarding new mobile COVID-19 testing teams that will be deployed to screen staff and residents in residential services located in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, Victoria, and an announcement from Minister Hunt that all aged care workers across Victoria are now required to wear masks.
There is also information on new requirements from NSW Health authorities on visitation restrictions and the use of surgical masks for people working and living in south-western Sydney.
We are once again reminding providers and their staff that the best thing you can do for the vulnerable people you care for is to stay at home if you are unwell, even with very mild symptoms, and get tested for COVID-19.
Thank you to all providers who are supporting our senior Australians during this critical time. For those in Victoria who need assistance, contact the Australian Government Department of Health Victorian State Office on 1800 078 709.
Mobile testing units for residential aged care services in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shires in Victoria
Five new COVID-19 testing teams will be deployed to screen staff and residents in residential services located across Victoria’s COVID-19 Metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.
Aspen Medical has been engaged by the Department to establish the mobile teams who will collect specimens, with Sonic Healthcare undertaking testing.
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck announced the initiative today to help health authorities identify where community transmission is occurring, before there are COVID-19 outbreaks.
Testing teams will begin contacting providers from 16 July.
Providers do not need to contact the Department of Health to arrange for the teams to come on site, mobile testing units will approach services directly.
The testing will be carried out on a voluntary basis and providers will be contacted ahead of the arrival of a mobile testing team.
Aged care workers across Victoria now required to wear masks
Minister Hunt announced today that all aged care workers across Victoria will now be required to wear face masks. This applies to both residential and home care workers.
The Australian Government will release a further 1 million masks from the National Medical Stockpile to support this requirement. This is in addition to the 4 million released for aged care workers in the areas of Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire earlier this week. An additional 1 million masks will also be provided for primary care workers in Victoria.
Aged care providers in Victoria can contact AgedCareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au to request masks for in home and residential aged care workers delivering close personal care and clinical care, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) like gloves and gowns to aged care services with a potential or confirmed COVID-19 outbreak.
The 5 new aged care testing teams are in addition to the in-reach pathology services deployed by the Australian Government to residential aged care providers with a known link to a COVID-19 case.
New measures for aged care facilities and workers in south-western Sydney, NSW
The New South Wales Chief Health Officer has issued new requirements to protect Australians living in aged care services across south-western Sydney. All staff who work in residential aged care facilities in the south-west Sydney local government areas of Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden, Wingecarribee and Wollondilly are required to wear surgical masks while in the facility until at least the end of July. Read Dr Kerry Chant’s letter to providers.
Aged care workers who live in these local government areas and provide aged care services elsewhere are also required to wear surgical masks. Aged care workers and visitors should continually monitor the list of New South Wales locations linked to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Minister Hunt announced the provision of 500,000 additional masks for aged care facilities in the western suburbs of Sydney to ensure aged care workers have access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need.
Aged care providers in New South Wales are asked to use their own supply of masks first, and then email AgedCareCOVIDPPE@health.gov.au to request extra supply as and when needed. All requests for PPE including masks will be assessed based on need and urgency. Further information on the use of PPE including masks is available on the Department of Health’s website.
Residential aged care facilities in the south-western Sydney local government areas have also been advised not to allow any visitors until at least the end of July. Exceptional circumstances can be discussed with the Public Health Unit.
Visitation restrictions will apply to anyone who has been in the identified local government areas in the previous two weeks, as well as to people who have been in Victoria.
Measures such as phone or video calls should be made available to all residents to enable continuation of communication with family, friends.
Stay COVID free, do the 3, and stay home if unwell
Once again, we are reminding everyone working in aged care to stay at home if you are unwell, even if you are only mildly unwell, and be tested for COVID-19.
This is just 1 way to ensure you keep yourself and others safe. The ‘Stay COVID Free, Do the 3’ poster also details how important it is to wash hands, maintain physical distancing and download the COVIDSafe App.
- Provider perspective on outbreak management