Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 update 29 June 2021

In this edition: Infection Control and Prevention (IPC), WA Health – lockdown and visitor restrictions, NTCHO – amended directions, QLD health – updates, SA health – Visitor restrictions and IPC for RACFs and Support services

Date published:
Health sector

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)

Strong infection prevention and control (IPC) practices are essential to prevent and respond to infectious diseases, including COVID-19. In response to the current COVID-19 outbreak all residential aged care facilities (RCFs) should review the IPC measures they have in place and consider whether they need to be adjusted to meet the increased risk in certain areas.

The Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) has recently updated national guidelines for COVID-19 infection prevention and control in residential care facilities in Australia.

The guidance contained in this document outlines the minimum national standards for IPC and PPE for RCF staff [1] working within the resident zone, [2] in the context of COVID-19. This guidance is not meant to be exhaustive but instead aims to supplement more detailed guidance available at a state, territory and institutional level.

PPE is a critical part of IPC. However, PPE should be considered as the last line of defence within a broader ‘hierarchy of controls’ framework. This includes minimisation of risk through the implementation of administrative and engineering controls, and other interventions, in combination with appropriate PPE.

The consensus recommendations on PPE outlined in this guidance will be revised as new research evidence and information emerges. This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2021), whilst acknowledging the unique circumstance of COVID-19 and requirement for additional PPE in some circumstances.

All RCFs must have an dedicated infection prevention and control (IPC) lead. IPC leads can play an important role in reviewing IPC measures and ensuring that procedures are in place and being followed correctly at each site.

[1] Includes all direct care workers, personal care workers and support staff who are exposed to residents of residential care facilities

[2] Includes being in the same room as a resident and in corridors, communal areas and other areas of a facility where residents may enter.

WA Health - further information on restrictions for RACF visitors

The WA Government has announced a lockdown for the Perth and the Peel regions that took effect today, at 12:01am Tuesday 29 June 2021 for a minimum of 4 days.

A person must not enter, or remain on, the premises of a residential aged care facility in the affected area unless:

  • the person is an officer, employee or contractor of the residential aged care facility
  • the person's presence at the premises is for the purposes of:
    • providing goods or services that are necessary for the effective operation of the residential aged care facility
    • providing health, medical, or pharmaceutical services to a resident of the residential aged care facility, whether the goods or services are provided for consideration or on a voluntary basis
    • providing end of life support to a resident of the residential aged care facility
    • emergency management, law enforcement or otherwise responding to an emergency.

For the full details of the restrictions and the full list of exceptions to visitor restrictions for RACFs please see the Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities (Outbreak Restrictions (Level 3)) Directions on the WA Health website.

NT CHO - Amended direction

The NT CHO issued an amended Direction, COVID-19 Directions (No. 15) 2021: Amendment to COVID-19 Directions (No. 11) 2021, signed by the CHO at 6:08pm on 27 June 2021.

These directions took effect upon signing. Part 5 of Directions No.11 is omitted. This means that workers are no longer prohibited from having another workplace.

Information can change rapidly so please check the NT Health website regularly for updates.

Qld Health Update

The Qld Government has announced a 3 day lockdown effective from 6pm tonight, Tuesday 29 June 2021, RACFs must restrict visitors from now until further advised in response to the immediate COVID-19 situation.

The Queensland COVID-19 Restricted Areas Direction (No.15) is now live which triggers a requirement under the Residential Aged Care Direction for restrictions on visitors in the following Local Government Areas:

  • City of Brisbane
  • City of Ipswich
  • Logan City
  • Moreton Bay Region
  • Redland City
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Gold Coast City
  • Noosa Shire
  • Somerset Region
  • Lockyer Valley Region
  • Scenic Rim Region
  • Townsville City
  • Palm Island
  • Magnetic Island

Please check the regularly Queensland Health website for the latest information.

SA Health - Visitor restrictions and IPC for RACFs

The SA Government has issued the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 37) (COVID-19) Direction 2021. A summary of the amendments include:

  • Limitation on Care and Support Visits: Visitors providing care and support to a resident (eg. family and friends) are limited to a maximum of two visitors per day in RACF where less than 70% of residents have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This may be two visits of one person each time, or one visit or two people together. RACF with 70% or more of residents vaccinated against COVID-19 (with at least a first dose) are not impacted by these visitor restrictions.
  • Vaccination Records for Residents: The operator of a RACF must, as far as is reasonably practicable, maintain a record of residents in the RACF who have received COVID-19 vaccinations. This must be made immediately available for inspection at the request of an authorised officer.
  • Wearing of Masks: A person (other than a resident or a child under 12 years) must not enter or remain on the premises of a RACF, unless the person is wearing a face mask (covering mouth and nose) at all times when in the physical presence of other persons.

The requirement for a mask does not apply:

  • when the person is eating or drinking;
  • the wearing of a mask will hinder the provision of the relevant care and/or impact resident safety or wellbeing;
  • by a person who has a relevant medical condition, including problems with their breathing, a serious condition of the face, a disability or a mental health condition; or
  • in circumstances where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication, such as to enable communication by or with any person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

As per the communication from SA Health yesterday, the Chief Public Health Officer has directed all operators of a South Australian RACF to implement all provisions of their approved COVID-19 Infection Control Plan within 48 hours - by no later than 5pm, Wednesday, 30 June 2021.

Sourcing PPE: SA Health can provide surgical masks to RACF free of charge while the wearing of masks by all staff and visitors is a mandatory requirement in the RACF Emergency Management Direction. To obtain stock, please email:

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

Support Services


The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is an independent, free service to support older people and their family members during COVID-19. Families can call OPAN on 1800 700 600 if they would like to talk with someone about the COVID-19 situation and its impact, or if worried about a loved one and need to talk to someone.

Head to Health

The Head to Health website has a range of resources for people who need help coping with anxiety or worry.

It also provides links to trusted Australian online and phone supports, resources and treatment options.

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