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COVID-19 weekly update – 9 November 2022

20200512 Icon Coronavirus

COVID-19 cases in the region

COVID cases are now increasing significantly across the region and general practices should take the necessary steps to ensure they are able to respond to this increase.  

For further information on the latest number of COVID cases please go to the latest NSW COVID statistics.  

Infection control and wearing masks (staff and patients) is critically important. Practices are asked to ensure that their most vulnerable populations are fully vaccinated and where possible to ensure children with respiratory illnesses get access to care. If you would like an infectious control consultation or any other support, emailcoronvirus@cesphn.com.au 

New COVID-19 variant leads to increase in cases 

We are seeing an increase in COVID-19 case numbers in Australia, reflecting community transmission of the Omicron variant XBB. While evidence is still emerging, the experience to date with these two variants overseas is that they do not appear to pose a greater risk of severe illness and death – and that the COVID-19 vaccines provide good protection against these outcomes.

See the statement from Professor Paul Kelly, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, on the increase in COVID-19 cases due to a new Omicron variant.

Follow up patients aged 65+ to receive fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccination

As of 6 November 2022, 70% of adults aged 65 years and over residing in the CESPHN region had received their fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.    

To ensure your most vulnerable patients are protected, we strongly encourage practices to contact all patients aged 65+ to receive their recommended second booster/fourth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.  

A consistent recommendation from a health professional plays an important role in improving vaccination uptake. 

A second booster, or fourth dose (also referred to as winter dose), is recommended for people at increased risk of severe illness, to be given 3 months after their first booster dose. This includes people aged 50 years or older, and people aged 16 years or older with serve immunocompromise, disability or other medical conditions. 

If you require further support, please contact immunisation@cesphn.com.au or call 1300 986 991, option 3 for immunisation. 

Getting help for Long COVID 

This resource provides information and explains the different symptoms you may experience if you or your patient have Long COVID, where symptoms of COVID-19 remain. 

Prescriber Bag supplies

To support prompt treatment of patients as of 1 November 2022, medical practitioners and nurse practitioners will be able to add Lagevrio® and Paxlovid® to their Prescriber Bag supplies. 

A complete list of current Prescriber Bag medicines is available on the PBS website. 

COVID-19 Oral treatment guidelines changed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

A reminder that from Tuesday, 1 November, eligibility for COVID-19 oral treatments through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, has been widened so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, aged 30 years or over, will require only one risk factor (from the current list of risk factors) instead of two, to meet the definition of high risk. 

Information pack for multicultural communities about COVID-19  

This information pack, updated 28 October 2022, includes COVID-19 resources for multicultural communities, translated in up to 63 languages. Translated information in this information pack includes: 

  • COVID-19 health and safety tips 
  • Rapid antigen tests (RATs) 
  • Testing positive for COVID-19 
  • Oral treatments for COVID-19 

COVID-19 support extended for vulnerable communities

People most vulnerable to COVID-19 will continue to be supported in protecting themselves against the virus with the NSW Government extending free access to rapid antigen tests (RATs) to 31 January next year. 

Eligible Commonwealth Concession Card holders in NSW can access a further 10 Rapid Antigen Tests over three months until 31 January 2023.

Tests are available through 210 neighbourhood and community centres, and Service NSW centres across the state. To find one near you, read free rapid antigen tests for vulnerable communities

Ordering process for PPE

PPE Living with COVID Bundle orders can only be placed once per month: 

  • Per provider number and 
  • Per practice under the Emergency Provision

These orders are to be submitted to CESPHN via the online order form.

Please read the guidance document before placing your order:

Access to PPE from the National Medical Stockpile is dependent on eligibility, and PPE volumes will be monitored by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Living with COVID PPE Bundles are available for:

  • GPs, ACCHS and GPRCs willing to manage COVID positive patients face-to-face.
  • 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.
  • GPs and GPRCs willing to support COVID positive people virtually, and respiratory patients face to face.

CESPHN Vax at Home service

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 also indicate if an influenza vaccine is also required. Please note, a referral will need to be attached to the online form. For further information on the program, please contact us.

Accessing pulse oximeters for your patients

Individual patients – we have access to a small supply of oximeters. 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.