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COVID-19 update – 19 January 2022

20200512 Icon Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in the region

Over the past four weeks to 11 January 2022 there have been 123,658 cases of COVID in the region. Please note that the actual number of cases is likely to be much more.

People with a positive rapid antigen test are no longer required to obtain a PCR test to confirm this result. The NSW Premier announced that from today people aged 16 years or over must report their positive rapid antigen test result via the Service NSW app or their MyService NSW Account within 24 hours.

People can also register results for another adult or a child. This feature can be found in the COVID resources section of the app. People have the option of registering positive RAT test results from 1 January 2022. People who register their results will be asked some questions about their health. Those who are pregnant, unvaccinated or have a serious medical condition will be asked to complete a follow up survey from NSW Health.

There are now nationally consistent testing and isolation protocols. See link here. The following NSW Health risk matrix classifies the level of risk for health care workers exposed to a positive COVID case.

Vaccination update

With the rapid increase in COVID cases it is critical that booster doses be provided especially to those who are vulnerable and have reduced immunity to COVID.

A COVID-19 booster vaccination is now recommended for anyone aged 18 and older who completed their primary course 4 or more months ago. Spikevax (Moderna) can be used as a booster vaccine.

General practices and pharmacists are encouraged to review their patients and identify those who are unvaccinated or need a booster dose and arrange COVID-19 vaccination for them.

Vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 years commenced this week and CESPHN is working with the Commonwealth to address any local distribution issues.

Booster eligibility

People are now able to access their COVID-19 booster three months after their second dose. It has been an option for primary care to implement this earlier if practical, in line with the ATAGI advice. 

All primary care vaccination sites and state run clinics may provide boosters at 3 months if there are appointments available. 

Please continue to prioritise high risk populations, older people, aged care residents, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, aged care, disability & health care workers, people with disability and those with underlying medical conditions. 

Please continue with Pfizer 5-11 vaccinations as per normal, the changes to booster intervals do not change this cohort of the Program Roll-out.

Resources for COVID + community members

The following resources are designed for people managing COVID at home:

NSW Health also has a COVID-19 care at home support line – phone 1800 960 933, 8.30 am to 8.30 pm, 7 days per week.

COVID-19 care in the community

The MBS item number allowing patients a rebate for a phone attendance by a GP lasting at least 20 minutes has been temporarily restored until 30 June 2022. 

With the increasing numbers of COVID cases, low risk immunised patients (the majority of people) are being asked to self-manage at home. People who test positive to COVID (via PCR test or who report their positive RAT test) are receiving an SMS from NSW Health and asked to complete a brief survey that identifies those patients considered high risk.

High risk patients will be managed by the local health district virtual care units.

See the flow chart (released 12 January 2022) from NSW Health on Caring for adults and children in the community with COVID-19 for a high level summary of the process.

Please refer to HealthPathways for the current definitions of low, medium and high risk. These definitions will be frequently updated and will differ between the two LHDs: see links below.

Check the pathways regularly as they will inevitably change.

The NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line (1800 960 933) now includes a menu option (press 4), that allows calls from GPs for advice and support to be prioritised.

Accessing pulse oximeters

Distribution of pulse oximeters to patients identified as high risk is occurring via local health districts. CESPHN have access to a small supply. GPs with patients they believe require a pulse oximeter urgently are asked to email pulseoximeter@cesphn.com.au with their name and address and we will arrange delivery of an oximeter.Practices actively seeing moderate risk COVID positive patients can also be sent up to five pulse oximeters –due to shortages of these oximeters we will put your practice on a list and will send when available.

CESPHN Vax at Home Service

Some people in our community may not be able to access a GP or vaccination hub to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.  

The CESPHN Vax at Home Service is ONLY for those people who are housebound and not able to leave their house to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster (their carers will also be able to be vaccinated).  

Patient self-referrals will NOT be accepted. Patients should speak with their GP for referral to this program if appropriate. Referrals will be accepted from general practitioners and from Local Health Districts. 

Referrals for people who live in the Sydney Local Health District and South Eastern Sydney Local Health District can be emailed to vaxathomeservice@cesphn.com.au

Referrals should include:

  • Name of patient
  • Patient’s residential address and contact details
  • Name of usual GP
  • Contact details of any carers
  • Vaccine status eg: 1st dose, 2nd dose, booster
  • Which vaccine required
  • Confirmation that:
    • patient is housebound and not able to access a COVID vaccine elsewhere
    • you have obtained the patients consent to send this information to CESPHN.

This service is now operational and accepting referrals (please note there might be some delays as we respond to demand.  

Additional PPE available

Vaccinating pharmacists 

Pharmacists who are undertaking vaccinations may also receive a bundle of Personal Protective Equipment from our PHN that will support them for the next 4 weeks. Within this bundle each pharmacist is able to receive 90 N95 respirators and one set of goggles or a face shield. Following this initial bundle each pharmacist will be able to order N95 respirators until 31 March 2022. To order this PPE for your pharmacist  click here

General practice and community pharmacies

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) packages including surgical and N95/P2 masks, are available for community pharmacies and those GPs who continue to see their patients within their practices. PPE guidelines can be found here. CESPHN will continue to distribute these supplies. To order PPE for your practice or pharmacy click here

Upcoming webinars

  • A webinar on COVID-19 for people with disability will be held on Thursday, 20 January 2022, from 3.00 – 4.00 pm AEDT. It will focus on what Omicron means for people with disability, what to do if you test positive and more. There will be panellists from the Department of Health including Nick Lennox and Dr Anne-Marie Boxall. Click here to register and to find out more.
  • CESPHN will be holding the second of our one hour COVID webinars in which our HealthPathways Clinical Leads take you through our local COVID care pathways in more detail. It will be held on Thursday 20 January 6.30pm – COVID care in the community - Sydney HealthPathways update(click on the link to register).
  • Coming up in February we have a pandemic infection prevention and control update with Margaret Jennings: Tuesday 22 February 7.00 pm – COVID Infection prevention triage and risk management in general practice.