COVID-19 weekly update – 21 September 2022

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COVID-19 cases in the region

Over the last four weeks there were 9,523 cases of COVID in the region.  The number of COVID cases continues to significantly decline however please continue to urge vigilance and maintain adherence to infection control protocols.

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.

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

PPE and excess stock

Please note that after PPE is distributed to General Practices, GPRCs and Pharmacies, they are considered the owners of the stock and can dispose, destroy, donate expired stock as they see fit.

We would also like to inform practices that the hand sanitiser is due to expire 10 October 2022, and the NMS (National Medical Stockpile) will not be ordering additional quantities of this item. Hand sanitiser will be included in bundles while stock lasts and then will be discontinued. Practices are encouraged to seek local supply available commercially for this PPE.

Changes to local COVID services

General Practice Respiratory Clinics Program update

We have been notified by the Department of Health and Aged Care that some General Practice Respiratory Clinics will be ceasing operations at the end of September 2022.

GPRC’s ceasing operations on 30 September 2022:

  • Inner West GP Respiratory Clinic – Balmain
  • Kirketon Road Centre – Darlinghurst

GPRC’s remaining open until 30 December 2022:

  • Belmore Respiratory Clinic – Belmore
  • Bondi Junction Respiratory Clinic – Bondi Junction
  • Lakemba Respiratory Clinic – Lakemba

COVID at Home Service

  • The COVID at Home Service has been operating since April 2022 and has supported COVID positive patients whose regular GP were unable to undertake home visits.
  • This service is now ceasing. For GPs who have COVID positive patients and need support in management and treatment of their patients, please refer to your local HealthPathways.

See here how to link in with our two HealthPathways – Sydney and South Eastern Sydney.

Mask mandate to end on NSW public transport

Masks are no longer mandatory on public transport (from Wednesday 21 September).

The NSW Government removed the requirement for people to wear masks on public transport, including taxis and rideshare services, in transport waiting areas and the indoor areas of cruise terminals.

NSW Health continues to recommend that people wear masks where they cannot physically distance from others, and in settings where there are vulnerable people and those who are at high risk of severe illness.

Strengthening Australia’s COVID-19 response

The Australian Government is bolstering Australia’s COVID-19 response by investing $1.4 billion to extend COVID-19 response measures

These measures were due to expire on 30 September, and now will be extended until 31 December 2022.

The measures include:

  • More than $840 million in additional funding for the Aged Care Support Program, including $35 million for ongoing on‑site PCR testing in aged care
  • Over $115 million for the supply of rapid antigen tests to service providers and care recipients in high-risk settings including residential aged care facilities
  • Over $142 million in MBS items and rebates from 1 October 2022 for testing SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses, where appropriate
  • Over $5 million to extend telehealth MBS items to prescribe lifesaving antivirals
  • $5.5 million in additional rebates for face-to-face GP visits for patients with COVID

COVID-19 webinars

Healthed webcast including a Practical Guide to Using COVID Antivirals in Primary Care with Dr Alex Padiglione: Tuesday, 27 September,  7:00pm – 9:00pm AEST

Participants of this webcast can receive:

  1. RACGP: 4 CPD activity points
  2. ACRRM: 2 hours under the Educational Activities Category
  3. Other Professions: Self claim up to 2 hours of CPD

Primary Care update: There will be no webinar this week. Previous webinars are available here.

Changes to COVID-19 isolation period

The self-isolation period for people in NSW diagnosed with COVID-19 was reduced to five days on Friday 9 September in line with a decision by National Cabinet.

People who test positive will need to comply with the NSW Health Factsheet which will require them to:

  • If they had a positive rapid antigen test (RAT), register this on the Service NSW website.
  • Self-isolate immediately for five days from the day their positive test was taken. If a person continues to have acute symptoms, such as a sore throat, runny nose, cough, or shortness of breath, they are to remain in self-isolation for seven days from the day of their test.
  • Not enter certain high-risk settings for seven days after they had their positive test. This includes healthcare (hospital premises, public clinics, and private health facilities), residential aged care, and residential disability care facilities.
  • Tell people that they live with that they have tested positive and self-isolate from them as much as possible.
  • Tell people they spent time with from the two days before they started having symptoms or two days before they tested positive (whichever came first) that they have COVID-19.

Free infection control advice on zoom

CESPHN is offering specialised one-on-one Zoom consultations with an experienced primary care infection control educator to assist with infection control procedures.

Telehealth or in person consultations for patients with respiratory symptoms are available. 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 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 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.

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.

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:

  • GPs, 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:

GP, ACCHS and GPRC: Completing New PPE Order Form Guide

GP, ACCHA and GPRC online ordering form

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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