Primary Care Update 13/10/2022
13 October 2022
Please note a number of key updates have been announced in relation to COVID-19 and mandatory requirements related to vaccines, masks and isolation periods.
Thank you for your continued resilience and understanding throughout the pandemic response, especially with these new changes being implemented tomorrow. Your ongoing hard work and dedication has enabled our community to be as protected as possible.
Changes to mandatory COVID-19 requirements
Following a decision by National Cabinet, and a commitment from the State and Commonwealth Governments to move from mandated public health orders to a work health and safety and individual behaviour change approach to managing COVID-19 in our community, isolation requirements for people who test positive to COVID-19 in South Australia will be removed effective 12.01am Friday 14 October 2022.
It is strongly recommended that the community stay home if they test positive to COVID-19 until their symptoms resolve (usually 5 to 7 days) and to take additional precautions, including mask wearing, if they must leave their home.
Operators of high-risk facilities and other healthcare sites will be responsible for considering implementing screening or entry policies through both workplace and visitor policies and protocols from 14 October 2022. The public health legislation will not prohibit entry.
It is strongly recommended that people with COVID-19 do not visit people at high risk of severe illness, or anyone in a hospital for at least 7 days.
Other key changes that will come into effect from Friday, 14 October 2022 include:
- The removal of all mask mandates
- The removal of all close contact requirements.
- The removal of vaccine mandates for phase 2 and 3 healthcare settings (including general practice, allied health and pharmacies).
Public and private hospitals are implementing mask policies and SA Health will support this through messaging to the community that the requirement to wear masks in hospitals remains.
The current COVID-19 legislation in South Australia expires on 24 November 2022, and the following requirements remain in place until that time:
- Mandatory reporting of positive rapid antigen test (RAT) results using the online form on the SA Health website.
- Vaccination requirements for hospitals (public and private), ambulance services, disability facilities, and in-home and community aged care.
Public health advice is that when considering workforce policies for your organisation, it is strongly recommended that measures that were previously mandated through public health orders to meet workplace health and safety obligations are considered, including:
- Vaccination mandates where required, COVID-19 positive staff to notify their manager of a positive test result and prevent COVID-19 positive staff from entering the workplace for a time consistent with the risk your organisation is prepared to take.
The changes that will come into effect from tomorrow are not a reflection of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic but a more sustainable approach to management, including prevention strategies. This will align to a tier-based national approach to enable scaled up responses.
For information on COVID-19, visit sahealth.sa.gov.au/COVIDpositive.
SA Health’s workplace policy for both healthcare and departmental staff - provided as a guideline for consideration
COVID-19 positive staff:
- Must notify their manager immediately of a positive test result.
- Will not be permitted to enter the workplace (work from home to be made available where practicable) for 7 days.
- May return on day 8 if all symptoms have resolved.
Close contact staff:
- Are to notify manager they are a close contact.
- Should seek manager’s permission to return to the workplace.
- Should wear a face mask at all times in the workplace for 7 days from last contact with a COVID-19 positive case (a well-fitted surgical face mask for non-client facing staff / a fit checked but preferably fit-tested N95 face mask for patient facing staff), and implement protocols such as taking meal breaks alone or outside.
- Get tested with PCR and stay home on immediate onset of any symptoms.
- Should complete a RAT at start of every shift attended inclusive of a daily RAT for 7 days.
- Undertake risk mitigation in their household to reduce personal risk of infection (for example, own bedroom, own bathroom, physical distancing, case and close contacts wear masks).
New COVID-19 modelling for SA
COVID-19 modelling from this week, based on the changes to isolation, suggests the next smaller COVID-19 wave occurring in South Australia in November/December.
This is driven by general population waning immunity to COVID-19, both from both vaccination and having experienced an active infection.
The modelling does not include the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant.
Para Hills West Priority Care Centre
The Para Hills West Priority Care Centre at McIntyre Medical Centre may be temporarily closed over the next few days (excluding Saturday) due to GP shortages.
If you are interested in covering any GP shifts on either the 14th or 16th October, please contact Jasmine Zantvoort at Wellbeing SA via firstname.lastname@example.org
COVID-19 outpatient treatment referral requests under the National Medical Stockpile
The COVID-19 outpatient treatment referral form templates are now available for use by medical practitioners referring COVID-19 positive adult patients to SA Health for consideration of treatment with available medicines from the Commonwealth's National Medical Stockpile (NMS) for the early intervention of COVID-19.
The referral templates can be found at the following links:
The referral forms have also been cross linked on the COVID-19 Outpatient Treatment Referral Portal.
Completed referrals must be submitted via SA Health's COVID-19 Outpatient Treatment Referral portal. Referrals sent outside of the portal (e.g. email) will not be actioned.
See the SA Health COVID-19 outpatient treatment guidelines for NMS COVID-19 treatment eligibility.
PHN GP webinar session – Long COVID and COVID-19 Update – webinar link included
Adelaide PHN will be hosting Long COVID webinars planned for 20 and 31 October 2022.
The webinars will be facilitated by Dr Emily Kirkpatrick, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Dr Melanie Smith, GP Liaison Community and Primary Care Partnerships Branch, SA Health with a presentation by Dr Eve Bailey, Long COVID GP Liaison, Community and Primary Care Partnerships Branch, SA Health.
Please register in advance for Webinar 2, 31 October 2022.
Please note you will need to register for each webinar date.
Australian General Practice Research Review
The latest edition of Australian General Practice Research Review has been released, which features summary reports on key medical articles from global GP journals with commentary from Professor Gerard Gill and Liz Volker, and covers topics such as depression, diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, psychiatric disorders management, and general practice guidelines. There is often a particular focus on COVID-19.
Research Review publications bring the best of 10,000 global medical journals with commentary from Australian experts. Over 40 areas including Cardiology, Diabetes, Oncology, General Practice and Psychiatry. Specialist opinions on guidelines, medicines and conferences.Research Review publications are free to receive for all Australian health professionals.
Please subscribe to receive the latest publications.
Please forward this update to any colleagues who may not have received it and contact us at Health.COVID-19GPLiaison@sa.gov.au to be added to our mailing list or with any other enquiries. If you wish to be removed from this mailing list please reply STOP.
Dr Emily Kirkpatrick
Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Deputy Chief Medical Officer
Department for Health and Wellbeing