Department of Health

Contact assessment and management guidance

The primary care, community-based healthcare and emergency services contact management guidance provides information to assist with managing exposures to COVID-19 and furlough.

Healthcare worker contact assessment and management guidance – Primary care, community-based healthcare and emergency services (Word)

It includes an exposure event risk matrix to guide contact management in COVID-19 outbreaks in primary care, community-based healthcare and emergency services and a recommended contact management action table.

If you are an exposure site

The Department of Health is aware that there have been some delays in exposure site clearance. As part of the surge response, businesses, including general practice (GP), no longer need to receive clearance from the department to reopen following closure due to a COVID-19 exposure.

Businesses will still need to work through the required steps for reopening, including to undertake a deep clean and submit contact tracing log details to the department, but will be able to reopen upon completing these tasks without formal clearance. For more details:

Cleaning

Cleaning continues to be one strategy to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission and COVID-19 cleaning guidelines for workplaces are available on Preventing infection in the workplace.

  • In addition to the routine cleaning program, cleaning of high-touch areas in communal/high traffic areas should be performed twice a day.
  • The guidelines have a tiered table of cleaning requirements depending on exposure site and time since exposure.
  • A deep clean is now only required for high-touch surfaces and shared equipment (where the person with COVID-19 has visited) that are not included in the daily cleaning schedule.
  • See Confirmed case in the workplace for information and advice for businesses who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Infection prevention and control support

Free infection prevention and control advice is available for general practice, community pharmacists and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). You can also call 1800 312 968 between 9am and 5pm weekdays.

The department has a range of infection prevention and control resources including guidelines, FAQs, posters, tips, checklists and templates, provide clear guidance on key infection prevention measures.

Personal protective equipment

The department’s COVID-19 guide to the conventional use of personal protective equipment (PPE) (Word) outlines the level of PPE appropriate for the current COVID risk rating, see the Victorian Health Service Guidance and Response to COVID-19 Risks (VHSGR).

For example, when the VHSGR guidance is at COVID Peak for all of Victoria, clinical staff providing care to patients who are suspected COVID-19-positive or who are displaying respiratory symptoms should be using Tier 3 PPE.

Tier 3 PPE includes disposable gloves and gown, eye protection/face shield and P2/N95 respirator. Tier 3 is recommended for all staff working at COVID-19 vaccination centres.

GP clinics and community pharmacies should contact their local Primary Health Network (PHN) to access PPE supply. If you are experiencing an urgent PPE supply issue, please email Community Health - COVID-19 Response and Recovery: covid19primarycommunitycare@health.vic.gov.au.

Minimising exposure to COVID-19 in primary care settings

A number of strategies can help to minimise exposure to COVID-19 in primary care settings, such as using the free Victorian Government QR Code Service for check-in at all entrances.

  • Use signage at entrances requesting patients to call the clinic prior to entering, particularly if they have respiratory symptoms.
  • Remind staff and patients to check-in using the Victorian Government QR Code Service.
  • Only see patients with respiratory conditions face-to-face if they have a current negative test (received in the previous 24 to 48 hours) or if it is an emergency.
  • Practice physical distancing: signage should be clear, and the layout of the clinic should support minimal interaction between patients wherever possible using density limits.
  • Reduce the use of shared spaces in the clinic. For example, ensure patient and staff toilets are separate, and that staff are aware of the risks of using tea rooms and their breaks are staggered: see COVID-19 Best practice approaches for safe staff amenities for health services (Word).
  • Minimise the number of patients and their time spent in waiting rooms: for example, where practical, patients could wait in their vehicles until their appointment time or in outdoor waiting rooms.
  • Optimise ventilation and air-circulating strategies: open windows and doors, increase air movement wherever possible: Infection control measures to optimise ventilation and reduce transmission of COVID-19 in acute healthcare settings (Word).
  • Where safe and appropriate, use video consultations or telehealth to provide care to your patients.
  • Use staff and patient attestations: ask staff and patients to attest to a series of questions regarding their health, presence at exposure sites and work at other facilities. Guidance for healthcare facilities on implementing daily attestations is available.
  • All patients and staff must wear a face mask as per Chief Health Officer Directions.
  • Encourage patients and staff to perform hand hygiene on entering the clinic.
  • Ensure staff are fully vaccinated as per COVID-19 Chief Health Officer Mandatory Vaccination Directions.
  • Mention vaccines at every patient interaction and consultation, and support patients to access vaccinations where medically appropriate.

Please remember also that it is mandatory for primary care settings to have an up-to-date COVIDSafe Plan that is monitored regularly.

Staff support

As case numbers increase, it is important to continue to look after your health and actively support the wellbeing of healthcare workers. Safer Care Victoria has a suite of health and wellbeing resources available for health workers.

Further resources

The General practice quick reference guide (Word) provides advice on testing and assessing patients for COVID-19.

Andrew Wilson, the Chief Medical Officer, speaks about the importance of staff completing declarations to consider their health before they start work

 

  • Duration: 1:17

Post Acute COVID-19 – Long-COVID

Please refer to the clinical guidance and resources developed by Safer Care Victoria to manage patients with ongoing symptoms after acute COVID-19 infection.

Further guidance for GPs on long-COVID care is available from the RACGP and through Primary Health Networks HealthPathways.

Please note information for patients or carers of those who had COVID-19 or may have had COVID-19 and are concerned that they are having ongoing symptoms is available at Information for people with long-COVID symptoms.

Reviewed 10 November 2021

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