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COVID-19 weekly update – 27 July 2022

 View this week’s immunisation update.

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COVID-19 cases in the region

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Over the last four weeks there were 70,775 of COVID in the region, and over the last week there has been an increase of 4,748.  The continued increase in COVID infections is placing severe strain on the heath system and on primary care providers. 

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

EOI Moderna vaccine for at risk children

Yesterday the Central and Eastern Sydney PHN sent out an expression of interest to general practices interested in administering the Moderna paediatric vaccine including for at-risk children who are immunocompromised, and have comorbidities and/or disability aged 6 months to 4 years.  This EOI was sent out on behalf of the Commonwealth.  

Practices selected to support the delivery model will be prioritised for selection based on;  accreditation status, location and access to priority population groups. 

The EOI process closes 5pm AEST on Friday 29 July 2022.  Please refer to the EOI sent to your practice and if you have further questions please email us at  coronavirus@cesphn.com.au 

Fourth dose eligibility: Quick reference guide

ATAGI has updated its recommendations for an additional booster dose (fourth dose) for selected population groups who are at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This quick reference guide can be used by vaccine providers to assist in identifying patients eligible for a 4th dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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 during winter.

Promotion of COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments

On 22 July 2022, the Australian Government launched a new advertising campaign to encourage eligible Australians to access life-saving COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments. The new antiviral treatments are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme with eligibility now opened to include more people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID‑19.

Those who can now receive Government subsidised COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments include:

  • people aged 70 years and over
  • people 50 years and over with two risk factors
  • First Nations people 30 years and over with two risk factors, and
  • immunocompromised people 18 years and older.

The public health information campaign will encourage people who are at higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 to have early discussions with their GP or nurse practitioner about whether an oral antiviral treatment suits their health needs.

The new ‘oral antiviral treatments’ campaign informs the community, particularly those who are eligible, about oral treatments’ availability and how to access them. You can check your eligibility for oral COVID-19 treatments.

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Australians are encouraged to check their eligibility and speak to their healthcare professional about COVID-19 oral antiviral treatments that can be taken at home, as they need to be started early after testing positive.

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, 28 July 2022 at 11.30 am – 12.00 (AEST) 
Where: Online 
Target audience: GPs and all health professionals 
Register here

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.
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