COVID-19 weekly update – 13 July 2022

 

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COVID-19 cases in the region

Over the last four weeks there were 50,685 cases of COVID in the region, and over the last week there has been an increase of nearly 6,098 new cases.  Much of this increase in COVID cases is being driven by the new COVID variants. Please note that the actual number of cases is likely to be much more. For further information please go to the latest NSW COVID statistics.   

We are particularly concerned that some vulnerable population groups such as older people have not received their full course of COVID vaccinations.

Infection control and wearing masks (staff and patients) is critically important. Practices are asked to ensure that their most vulnerable populations are fully vaccinated and where possible to ensure children with respiratory illnesses get access to care. If you would like an infectious control consultation or any other support, email coronvirus@cesphn.com.au

Winter dose updated recommendations

On 7 July, ATAGI updated its recommendations for a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine to help reduce severe disease from the emerging surge of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariant infections, and to reduce the burden on the Australian healthcare system.

Updated eligibility for winter booster:

In addition to people previously eligible for a winter booster dose, the updated recommendations include:

  • Adults aged 50 to 64 years are now recommended to receive a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Adults aged 30 to 49 years can receive a winter booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, however the benefit for people in this age group is less certain.

Updated interval for winter booster:

  • The interval recommended between a recent SARS-CoV-2 infection, or the first booster dose and a winter booster dose is now 3 months.

Eligibility for oral COVID-19 treatments update

Eligibility criteria for COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments, Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) and  Lagevrio (molnupiravir) has been expanded effective on Monday 11 July 2022.

This decision is in response to the latest evidence on the effectiveness and safety of the medicines, the rate of uptake since they were made available on the PBS and the changing epidemiology of the virus.
 
Eligibility now includes people with chronic respiratory issues due to conditions such as COPD, moderate or severe asthma.  There is also greater access for adults living with disability who have multiple medical conditions.
 
Not being vaccinated has been removed as a risk factor from the criteria for prescription under the PBS. Learn more about oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19.

Search Find a Pharmacy to see the pharmacies in your area that stock oral COVID-19 treatments. The new eligibility and risk factors are summarised here new eligibility

For additional information please see

Primary care providers should note the updated criteria and, if possible, pre-identify potential patients before they test positive for COVID-19 so that medication options can be explored and included in their care plan to expediate treatment within that critical 5-day window from symptom onset.   This is especially important for patients in residential aged care and disability care.

From 11 July 2022, doctors and authorised nurse practitioners can prescribe these treatments according to the expanded PBS criteria, and pharmacists can dispense these PBS prescriptions.

Special COVID-19 Treatments Webinar 

Please see this special webinar that was held to discuss the new eligibility criteria in more detail, and what it means for primary care providers. 

As always, if you have any questions, call CESPHN 1300 986 991.

COVID-19 reinfection period reduced to four weeks

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NSW Health has revised the COVID-19 reinfection period from 12 weeks down to four weeks effective from 12 July..

People who have previously had COVID-19 will be required to test for COVID-19 after 28 days since their isolation ended if experiencing symptoms and follow the relevant health advice if they test positive. People who test positive again will be reported and managed as new cases.

The expansion of the winter booster program means those aged 50 to 64 years are now recommended to receive a second or winter booster dose, which is available to all those aged 30 and over.

COVID home visiting service for vulnerable: referrals

We are encouraging GPs to refer to the COVID@Home Service which provides an ‘in-home’ assessment service delivered by a Registered Nurse with the support of a GP.

This service is aimed at COVID positive patients whose regular GP is not able to undertake home visits but where such a visit is required for medical and other support reasons while the patient is isolating. Referrals will only be accepted from GPs. Click here to find out more about the service and how to refer. If you have any enquiries, contact coronavirus@cesphn.com.au.

Free infection control advice on Zoom

We are offering specialised one-on-one Zoom consultations with an experienced primary care infection control educator to assist with infection control procedures. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of your practice and staff, as well as reducing unnecessary ED presentations is of utmost importance.

To try and reduce unnecessary burden on our EDs, GPs should consider facilitating either telehealth or in person consultation for patients with respiratory symptoms. When in person consultation is indicated, the patient should be given a surgical mask and hand sanitiser and practice staff should wear eye protection and a mask.

To book a session, email your interest to coronavirus@cesphn.com.au with the subject line: “Yes I would like infection control advice”.

CESPHN Vax at Home service

The CESPHN Vax at Home Service is for those people who are housebound and not able to leave their house to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster. The service will accept referrals for people 16 years and over. Referrals will be accepted from GPs and from Local Health Districts. Patient self-referrals will not be accepted.

All Vax at Home Service referrals must be sent through this Vax at Home Service Online Form. Please also indicate if an influenza vaccine is also required. Please note, a referral will need to be attached to the online form. For further information on the program, please contact us.

Ordering process for PPE

Access to PPE is now via Living with COVID PPE Bundles ordered nationally through PHNs using an online order form and delivered directly by a national distributor (rather than via PHNs). Access to PPE from the National Medical Stockpile is dependent on eligibility, and PPE volumes will be monitored by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

General Practice, ACCHS and GPRCs ordering information

Living with COVID PPE Bundles are available for:

  • GP, ACCHS and GPRCs willing to manage COVID positive patients face-to-face, until 30 September 2022.
  • ACCHSs and rural and remote GPs willing to treat COVID positive patients virtually and respiratory patients face-to-face, where workforce capacity is limited AND the GP is serving the community for most of all health needs, until 30 September 2022.
  • GPs and GPRCs willing to support COVID positive people virtually, and respiratory patients face to face, until 30 September 2022.

Orders can only be placed once per month and be submitted to the PHN via the online form.

Please read the guidance document before placing your first order:

PPE for the health workforce during COVID-19

PPE for COVID-19 includes surgical masks, particulate filter respirators (such as P2 or N95), gloves, goggles, glasses, face shields, gowns and aprons. For more information go to COVID PPE Information for Health Professionals.

Upcoming webinars

GP Weekly webinar: latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine

Primary care update on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout. The panel will provide key updates and answer participants’ questions.

When: Thursday 14 July 2022 at 11.30 am – 12.00 (AEST)

Where: Online

Target audience: GPs and all health professionals

Register here

Accessing pulse oximeters for your patients

  • Individual patients– we have access to a small supply of oximeters. GPs with patients they believe require a pulse oximeter urgently are asked to complete this CESPHN Pulse Oximeter online form with the patients details and we will arrange delivery of an oximeter.
  • General practices– practices actively seeing moderate risk COVID positive patients can also be sent up to 10 pulse oximeters per practice via the new PPE online ordering form. If your practice has already received 10 pulse oximeters via the previous process, you will need to access future stock through your local suppliers.

 

 

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