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COVID-19 weekly update – 20 July 2022

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COVID-19 cases in the region

Over the last four weeks there were 66,027 of COVID in the region, and over the last week there has been an increase of nearly 15,342.  This increase in COVID cases is being driven by the new COVID variants that have a higher re-infection rate compared to previous variants, and this is likely to be due to immune evasion. 

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. 

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, email coronvirus@cesphn.com.au

Please encourage COVID boosters

Please encourage COVID booster doses as many people in our region are not receiving maximal protection from COVID-19 see the ATAGI Latest Update . Adults aged 65 years or older who have not yet received a winter dose of COVID-19 vaccine should get this as soon as possible.  Booster doses in older adults, will help reduce the number of COVID-19 related hospitalisations over the coming months. 

Please consider the use of antiviral treatment in people diagnosed with COVID-19, including in people aged 50 years and above and reinforce messages on mask wearing.

The interval between the first booster and the winter booster (4th dose) has been reduced to 3 months (from 4 months) to provide earlier protection from the additional vaccine over the coming winter months.

Assessment for COVID-19 oral anti-virals

Commencing 19 July 2022, and available until 31 October 2022, two new temporary MBS item have been made available to support medical practitioners with treating COVID-19 positive patients.

The two new items 93716 (for General Practitioners) and 93717 (for Other Medical Practitioners) will enable medical practitioners to assess a patients suitability to receive a prescription for a COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment via a telehealth phone consultation lasting at least 20 minutes (25 minutes for OMPs). 

The new items are specific to services for eligible Medicare patients nationally who have confirmed their COVID-19 infection via a laboratory test (PCR) or by a Rapid Antigen Test.

The Medicare benefits for the new temporary items will be paid at 85 percent of the schedule fee and are equivalent to the benefit paid for other time-tiered consultation items of equivalent duration.Further information is available in the following fact sheet.

version Medicare assessment for COVID-19 oral anti-viral treatment (PDF 222 KB)
Word version Medicare assessment for COVID-19 oral anti-viral treatment (Word 131 KB)

People with disability urged to get booster

With a new wave of COVID-19 cases, people with disability are encouraged to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine booster dose. COVID-19 booster doses are recommended for anyone 16 years and older who had their last dose of a primary course at least three months ago.

The COVID-19 vaccine can be taken at the same time as the influenza vaccine, which people with disability are also being urged to take. Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza remain eligible for a FREE flu vaccine beyond this date, under the National Immunisation program. 

Additional rapid antigen tests (RATs) are being provided to people with disability and other vulnerable community with the program recently expanded to 31 October 2022.

Eligibility for oral COVID-19 treatments update

Eligibility criteria for COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments, Paxlovid and  Lagevrio has been expanded effective on Monday 11 July 2022.

Eligibility now includes people with chronic respiratory issues due to conditions such as COPD, moderate or severe asthma.  There is also greater access for adults living with disability who have multiple medical conditions.

Not being vaccinated has been removed as a risk factor from the criteria for prescription under the PBS. Learn more about oral antiviral treatments for COVID-19. Search Find a Pharmacy to see the pharmacies in your area that stock oral COVID-19 treatments. The new eligibility and risk factors are summarised here new eligibility

For additional information please see


From 11 July 2022, doctors and authorised nurse practitioners can prescribe these treatments according to the expanded PBS criteria, and pharmacists can dispense these PBS prescriptions. 

Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, released a statement about the standard of care on COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments in residential aged care facilities.

COVID at Home home visiting service 

We are encouraging GPs to refer to the COVID@Home Service which provides an ‘in-home’ assessment service delivered by a Registered Nurse with the support of a GP. 

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, contact coronavirus@cesphn.com.au

Free infection control advice on Zoom

We are offering specialised one-on-one Zoom consultations with an experienced primary care infection control educator to assist with infection control procedures. Ensuring the health and wellbeing of your practice and staff, as well as reducing unnecessary ED presentations is of utmost importance.

To try and reduce unnecessary burden on our EDs, GPs should consider facilitating either telehealth or in person consultation for patients with respiratory symptoms. When in person consultation is indicated, the patient should be given a surgical mask and hand sanitiser and practice staff should wear eye protection and a mask.

To book a session, email your interest to coronavirus@cesphn.com.au with the subject line: “Yes I would like infection control advice”.

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 Vax at Home Service 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.

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

GP Weekly webinar: latest information on the COVID-19 vaccine 
Primary care update on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout. The panel will provide key updates and answer participants’ questions. 

When: Thursday 21 July 2022 at 11.30 am – 12.00 (AEST)

Where: Online

Target audience: GPs and all health professionals

Register: Click linkto join webinar 

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.
  • ck through your local suppliers.
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