Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 update 25 February 2022

In this issue, Reminders about the New COVID-19 Support Portal, NPS MedicineWise Hub for COVID-19 anti-virals, Recording on the webinar, Expected delay in RAT deliveries for Queensland residential aged care and SA health FAQs for residential aged care facilities.

Date published:
Health sector

Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information.

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter as well as other announcements for the aged care sector on the department's website.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

Reminder – New COVID-19 Support Portal from 28 February 2022

Residential aged care services will be able to report a resident, worker or visitor COVID-19 case at their service via a new, online COVID-19 Support Portal accessed through the My Aged Care provider portal.

This online portal replaces the former email notification of a COVID-19 case outbreak or exposure at a residential aged care service. Please note that this transition to the COVID-19 Support Portal ONLY applies to providers of residential aged care facilities, multi-purpose services (MPS) or National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program (NATSIFACP) services.

The email address will continue to be the reporting mechanism for in-home and community aged care providers to notify the Commonwealth Department of Health of COVID-19 cases impacting their service. Up until Sunday 27 February 2022, residential aged care services can continue to report COVID-19 cases by this mailbox. To support transition to the new online portal mechanism, the Department will continue to monitor this mailbox, and redirect residential providers to use the COVID-19 Support Portal.

Providers need to continue to report to their relevant state or territory health department (e.g. to public health units) in line with relevant jurisdictional public health orders and mandatory reporting requirements.

The de-identified information collected via the new COVID-19 Support Portal is the same as the information already reported by providers to the Department of Health. The new portal will make this process more streamlined and efficient.

Guidance available

The Department has issued a fact sheet and quick reference guide to assist you through this process.

Support Portal webinar

The Department hosted a Support Portal webinar to guide users through the new reporting process, including how to use the portal and the benefits of moving to a real time, streamlined system. The recording of the webinar and frequently asked questions will be available shortly on the Department's website.

NPS MedicineWise Hub for COVID-19 anti-virals

NPS MedicineWise has launched the Antiviral treatments for COVID-19 Hub containing information on recently approved anti-virals and monoclonal antibody medicines that can be used to treat COVID-19. The hub will provide new clinical information, resources and links to help keep health professionals and consumers up to date with the latest approvals, evidence and guidance.

The hub currently features:

  • FAQs about the use of COVID-19 oral antiviral medicines in residential aged care
  • A medicine table summarising key information about the two oral antivirals (molnupiravir and nirmatrelvir), and also the intravenous medicine sotrovimab.
  • An NPS MedicineWise podcast episode titled The new oral antiviral covid medications: What HPs need to know. Guests are Dr Kate Annear and Associate Professor Charlotte Hespe. Dr Kate Annear is a GP and medical adviser at NPS MedicineWise. Associate Professor Charlotte Hespe is a GP, Head of General Practice and GP Research at the University of Notre Dame and the NSW/ACT Faculty Chair for RACGP. Also available on the NPS MedicineWise website
  • Australian Prescriber drug summaries on remdesivir and sotrovimab . Drug summaries on molnupiravir, nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir, and casirivimab plus imdevimab will be added next week.

We encourage you to share this information with health professionals and consumers.

Recording available – Webinar for residential aged care providers – updated CDNA guidelines

A recording is now available of a special webinar held yesterday, Thursday 24 February 2022 to introduce the latest, significant updates to the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) National guidelines for the prevention, control, and public health management of COVID-19 outbreaks in residential care facilities (RACFs) in Australia. The webinar was hosted by Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), with speakers from the Department of Health.

The changes support RACFs to take a more independent and proportionate approach in managing the risk of COVID-19, including:

  • move to risk-based approach
  • included exposure definition
  • changes to outbreak definition
  • changes to visitation
  • changes to declaring outbreak over
  • changes to approach to test, trace, isolation and quarantine.

You can view the webinar on YouTube: CDNA Revised Guidelines webinar.

Recording available – ADF Support to residential aged care webinar

A recording is now available of a special webinar held on Monday 21 February 2022 on the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Support in Residential Aged Care.

You can view the webinar at Australian Defence Support to Residential Aged Care - YouTube and further information is available in the fact sheet Australian Defence Force support to residential aged care facilities.

Expected delay in RAT deliveries for Queensland residential aged care facilities

Queensland residential aged care facilities are advised to expect delays in Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) deliveries next week beginning 28 February 2022 due to recent extreme weather conditions and damage to transport infrastructure in the state.

The exact impact of these circumstances is currently being determined. The department is working with delivery partners to understand the impact and make sure that residential aged care facilities receive the best possible access to RAT. Providers are advised to stay informed on these developments.

Providers experiencing an outbreak or exposure are encouraged to discuss any concerns with your Commonwealth Case Management team.

SA Health – FAQs for Residential Aged Care providers

SA Health has developed a fact sheet with answers to frequently asked questions to support RACFs to navigate and respond to the next phase of living with COVID-19.

This fact sheet should be read in conjunction with the SA Health - Information for Residential Aged Care Facilities – An interim guidance for COVID-19 outbreak management.

The interim guidance is currently being reviewed to align with the recently updated Communicable Diseases Network Australia National Guidelines for the Prevention, Control and Public Health Management of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities and is expected to be available shortly.

Further information about COVID-19 and Aged Care is available on the SA Health website.

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