With the Victorian Government Department of Health advising that we are now entering a new wave of COVID-19 infections, primary health care providers are urged to review their COVID planning and ensure they are up-to-date with the latest information and advice.
The Department reports that hospitalisations of COVID cases have increased over the past few weeks alongside an increase in the number of cases in the community. This is due to waning population immunity, reduction community protective behaviours and the emergence of new COVID sub-variants.
While Pandemic Orders expired in October, primary health care providers are asked to continue to follow the latest advice for keeping yourselves, staff, patients and clients safe.
COVID Safe plans and infection control
General Practices and other primary care clinics are encourage to review and reinstate COVID Safe Plans including having an Infection Prevention Control lead within the workplace.
COVID Safe Plans should include:
- A business continuity plan and measures to ensure service continuity should staff get COVID.
- Workforce planning and movement – where practical, services and workplaces should restrict the mobility of all workers, preferably to one workplace site. Where movement is required, this should be conducted with appropriate risk mitigations in place.
- Infection prevention and control measures – review and implement appropriate best practice infection control measures appropriate for your workplace.
The correct use of face masks and other PPE and improving ventilation in indoor spaces can also reduce the risk of COVID-19. Eligible clinics can still submit requests for PPE via our website.
- COVIDSafe Plan | Coronavirus Victoria
- Infection Prevention Control Resources | Department of Health
- Infection Prevention Helpline |PHN Victoria-Tasmania Alliance
- Primary care guidance for the response to COVID-19 risks | Department of Health
Vaccinations and anti-viral medications
Vaccinations and anti-virals reduce the risk of hospitalisation and severe disease. Practices are asked to actively engage all staff, patients and clients to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. Anyone due for their third or fourth dose, should get it as soon as possible.
Prescribers are asked to undertake pre-planning for the prescribing of COVID anti-virals by:
- working with eligible patients, especially high risk patients to develop a treatment plan for antivirals prior to infection
- speaking with local pharmacists’ so they are further informed about your antiviral prescribing needs to support appropriate levels of stock is held, and is timely accessible to your patients
Prescribers can also call the PBS prescriber helpline 03 8290 3801 (seven days, 8am-5pm)
- COVID-19 Vaccinations
- Western Victoria COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics
- COVID-19 Medications
- Western Victoria Pharmacies Dispensing COVID-19 Anti-viral Medications
Testing for COVID
Practitioners should refer patients for COVID testing if:
- They have a fever OR chills in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that explains the clinical presentation* OR
- Acute respiratory infection (for example, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, or loss or changes in sense of smell or taste)
Testing is also recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19** AND who are from the following cohorts: people who are most at risk of a severe illness, higher prevalence groups and settings, close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19; those who have returned from overseas in the past 14 days; or those who are healthcare or aged care workers.
*Clinical discretion applies including consideration of the potential for co-infection (e.g. concurrent infection with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza)
**headache, myalgia, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea.
COVID care pathways
A new model of COVID-19 care has been in place across Victoria since October 1. Currently, COVID-19 care pathways focus on supporting people who experience barriers to accessing care or need support to recover; and connecting the rest of the population with usual care. More details are available from our COVID-19 Positive Care Pathways page
- Department of Health and RACGP Victoria webinar series: racgp.org.au/coronavirus/vic
- WVPHN is also continuing to run fortnightly Project ECHO – COVID and Communicable Diseases sessions.