COVID-19 update – 30 March 2022

20200512 Icon Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in the region

Over the last four weeks there were 96,191 cases of COVID in the region and there has been an additional 61 101 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. COVID and in particular the omicron subvariant (BA.2) is spreading rapidly in our community with the number of COVID cases rising significantly. 

Infection control and wearing masks (staff and patients) remains important especially the rising number of COVID cases in our community. 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.

Winter booster dose

ATAGI has made recommendations on a “winter booster dose” of COVID-19 vaccine for selected population groups who are at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19:

  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.
  • People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise.

The winter booster dose can be given from 4 months after a person’s first booster dose, or from 4 months after a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (if infection occurred after the person’s first booster dose). The winter booster can be provided at the same time as the annual flu vaccine.

Service to book vaccines easily

Easy Vaccine Access (EVA) is a simple callback service to help people book a COVID-19 vaccine. If patients need help making a COVID-19 vaccine booking, SMS ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382.  An agent from the National Coronavirus Helpline will call to help patients book their appointment in their preferred language.

If patients are concerned about their COVID-19 symptoms and they don’t speak English, advise them to call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 and select ‘option 8’ for free interpreting assistance. 

Vaccine hesitancy and complacency

‘It’s worth the shot’ is a free online training package to support GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists to conduct opportunistic conversations with patients who feel reluctant to vaccinate, or are complacent about having booster shots. This package is based on the growing body of research that shows that COVID-19 vaccination trust is best built through ‘sharing and caring’, rather than ‘telling and selling’.

The training package includes a training video and role-play, and tip sheets individualised for GPs, practice nurses and pharmacists. It also includes two sets of illustrated story cards to use as engaging visual aids to stimulate conversations about feelings of hesitancy towards vaccination.

Free fit testing for GPs and Practice Nurses

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

Individual 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 will be 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.  For the next month a special three hour evening slot will be available once per week for GPs and practice nurses to access.

  • RPA and Concord Hospital are open from 8.00am – 4.00pm Monday to Friday.
  • Canterbury is open from 8.00am – 4.00pm on Tuesday and Thursday.

Group appointments 

Fit testing services can be provided in the GP practice for group appointments provided there is a minimum of 20 people requiring mask fit testing. This may require practices to collaborate to ensure they meet minimum numbers.

This can be arranged by contacting:  

Phone: 95625 5900 or

Email: matt.barker@health.nsw.gov.au

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. 

New resources

  • COVID-19 vaccine QR codes: This is a A4 poster for vaccine providers to print and display, assisting patients who would like further information on types of vaccines.
  • COVID-19 doses and vaccines flowchart: This infographic outlines which vaccines and doses are recommended for each age and population group.

Upcoming webinars

COVID-19 live stream for GPs

Join the latest COVID-19 vaccine live stream update for GPs. The panel will provide latest key updates and answer participants’ questions live about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

When: Thursday 31 March, 11.30 am

Where: Online

Target audience: GPs

Register: Click link to join.

Catch up on previous webinars.

Excess COVID vaccines

If your practice has an excess of COVID-19 vaccines, please notify CESPHN (coronvirus@cesphn.com.au) as we may be able to help coordinate a transfer of the stock ideally two week prior to thaw use by date.

You should also notify the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) at covid19vaccineoperationscentre@health.gov.au 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.

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. These have been updated to include information on the new oral antiviral treatments.

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). 

The Vax at Home Service will accept referrals for people 16 years and over. For children 12-16 years with special circumstances and may require further support, referrals will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

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

Referrals MUST be sent through this Vax at Home Service Online Form – for people who are housebound and reside in the Sydney Local Health District or South Eastern Sydney Local Health District regions.

For further information on the program, please email vaxathomeservice@cesphn.com.au.

PPE and pulse oximeters available

To order PPE for your practice or pharmacy click here. Distribution of pulse oximeters to patients identified as high risk is occurring via local health districts. CESPHN has access to a small supply of pulse oximeters.

Accessing pulse oximeters for your patient

  • Individual patients – distribution of pulse oximeters to patients identified as high risk is occurring via local health 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 formwith 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 five pulse oximeters per practice via email to pulseoximeter@cesphn.com.au.