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COVID-19 update – 25 May 2022

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COVID-19 cases in the region

Over the last four weeks there were 50 796 cases of COVID in the region, a reduction of 4541 cases over the last week. 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. The number of influenza cases has increased significantly over the last week.   

Infection control and wearing masks (staff and patients) remains important. Practices are also asked to ensure that their most vulnerable populations are fully vaccinated. If you would like an infectious control consultation or any other support, please email coronavirus@cesphn.com.au.

Seasonal flu vaccinations – NSW Government announcement makes flu shot free for all

Due to the increased numbers of flu infections across NSW, the NSW Government have announced that people living in NSW will be offered free flu vaccinations.

This initiative will enable all people in NSW to be able to access a free flu vaccination to reduce infections and protect especially vulnerable people and relieve some of the pressure on the health system.

Please note that CESPHN is awaiting further details on this initiative and we will ensure that general practices are sent further information as soon as it comes to hand. 

New COVID Home Visiting Service

Central and Eastern Sydney PHN has recently launched a COVID home visiting service. The COVID@Home Service provides an in-home assessment service delivered by a Registered Nurse with the support of a GP. We are encouraging GPs to refer to this service

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 please contact coronavirus@cesphn.com.au.

Long COVID

If people have ongoing symptoms after their acute COVID illness in the community, they are encouraged to seek advice from their GP. To support GPs in caring for people with long COVID, RACGP guidelines were updated in December 2021: Caring for adult patients with post-COVID-19 conditions.

The RACGP also developed a patient resource titled ‘Managing post-COVID-19 symptoms’ to assist patients self-manage fatigue and additional symptoms.

GPs may refer patients to MBS subsidised allied health services if they use a GP Management Plan and Team Care Arrangements. Patients may be eligible for up to five MBS rebated Chronic Disease Management (CDM) allied health items per calendar year.

Vaccine comparison post

The COVID-19 vaccine comparison poster provides key differences between each COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia as per the ATAGI guidelines. The poster was updated 19 May to include:

  • winter booster dose recommendations,
  • extended dose interval for mRNA vaccine primary course, and
  • additional foot notes.

CESPHN Vax at Home service

Updated COVID-19 vaccine clinical advice

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 indicate if an influenza vaccine is also required. For further information on the program, please contact us.

New 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 

COVID-19 live stream update for GPs: COVID-19 vaccine live stream for GPs – key updates and live Q&A

When: Thursday 26 May 2022 at 11.30 am

Where: Online

Target audience: GPs

RegisterClick link to join

Accessing pulse oximeters for your patient

  • Individual patients – 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 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.

COVID-19 care in the community

A reminder to check HealthPathways regularly for the latest updates on caring for COVID positive patients in the community:

Free fit testing for GPs and practice nurses

CESPHN is offering free fit testing for all GPs and practice nurses in our region. 

Individual and group appointments: GPs and practice nurses can use the existing Sydney Local Health District mask fit testing booking system to book individual appointments at either Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord Hospital or Canterbury Hospital for mask fit testing services. For bookings please go to https://www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/covid-mask-testing/. The online booking system has been updated to include a check box to identify as a GP or practice nurse; this question will also be asked by the mask fit tester. Group appointments are available

Current locations

  • Royal Prince Alfred Room 6.1 Level 6 Kerry Packer Education Centre
  • Concord Hospital Centre for Education Workforce and Development Building 20A
  • Canterbury Hospital Level 4 (next to computer room)

Ordering of masks 

Masks will be supplied for fit testing however the GP practice will then need to purchase masks. Further information on purchasing masks will be provided on the day. 

Excess COVID vaccines

If your practice has an excess of COVID-19 vaccines, please notify CESPHN as we may be able to help coordinate a transfer of the stock ideally two weeks prior to thaw use by date. You should also notify the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) of your excess doses so that they may be able to facilitate transfers outside the CESPHN region. Please note in the email to VOC that you have already contacted CESPHN.

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