View resources, information and guides for the care of patients and at-risk groups during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges the diversity of issues that may present in vulnerable groups of our population. This is a challenge that is not being overlooked, be assured we are planning as best we can and will respond as quickly as we can as issues arise.

Aged care

Can I continue to provide clinical care in aged care/residential care/supported homes? 

You can still go to work if you have: 

  • Had casual contact with coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and are well. 
  • Directly cared for confirmed cases while using PPE properly. 

Monitor yourself for symptoms, and self-isolate and get tested if you become unwell. 

For aged care workers, these rules apply: 

  • From 1 May 2020, you must have your influenza vaccination to work in or visit an aged care facility. 
  • If you’re a residential aged care worker, you must not go to work if you have a fever or symptoms of a respiratory illness. 

For further information about providing clinical care in these settings, see Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the health and aged care sector.

What is the current advice regarding aged care facilities? 

Please refer to advice on the Aged care sector coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Older persons 

Is there advice about contact with elderly people? Should we be recommending people reduce contact with elderly relatives? 

Interventions to support ‘transmission reduction, or ‘physical distancing’ measures are particularly important in reducing the spike of infections and protecting our elderly and those with chronic diseases or pre-existing medical conditions. Find out more at Physical distancing and other transmission reduction measures - coronavirus (COVID-19).

At-risk groups definition

People in the community who are most at-risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 50 years and older with one or more chronic medical conditions
  • People 65 years and older with chronic medical conditions
  • People 70 years and older
  • People with compromised immune systems

The following chronic conditions are of concern in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50 years and vulnerable workers over 65 years:

  • Chronic renal failure
  • Coronary heart disease or congestive cardiac failure
  • Chronic lung disease (severe asthma for which frequent medical consultations or the use of multiple medications is required, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, suppurative lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic emphysema)
  • Poorly controlled diabetes
  • Poorly controlled hypertension

People with compromised immune systems, including those who:

  • Have haematological neoplasms: leukemias, lymphomas, myelodysplastic syndromes
  • Are post-transplant: solid organ (on immunosuppressive therapy), haematopoietic stem cell transplant (within 24 months or on treatment for GVHD)
  • Are immunocompromised due to primary or acquired immunodeficiency (including HIV infection)
  • Are currently undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • Receive high-dose corticosteroids (≥20 mg of prednisone per day, or equivalent) for ≥14 days
  • Receive all biologics and most disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) as defined as follows:
    • Azathioprine >3.0 mg/kg/day
    • 6-Mercaptopurine >1.5 mg/kg/day
    • Methotrexate >0.4 mg/kg/week
    • Prednisone >20 mg/day. If <14 days treatment, can resume work when treatment ceased
    • Tacrolimus (any dose)
    • Cyclosporine (any dose)
    • Cyclophosphamide (any dose)
    • Mycophenolate (any dose)
    • Combination (multiple) DMARDs irrespective of dose
Culturally and linguistically diverse groups

Coronavirus (COVID-19) translated information for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, health professionals and industry is available in over 50 languages on the department’s website.

Emergency and critical care
Maternity and newborn

Are pregnant women considered an 'at-risk' group for coronavirus (COVID-19)?

At this time, pregnant women do not appear to be more likely to develop severe coronavirus (COVID-19) than the general population. It is expected that most pregnant women who develop coronavirus (COVID-19) will experience mild or moderate illness from which they will make a full recovery. However, there is currently limited information available regarding the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on pregnant women and their babies. Therefore, it would be prudent for pregnant women to practice social distancing and ensure good hygiene practices to reduce the risk of infection.

Assisted Reproductive Treatments (ART)

  • More category 2 and some category 3 elective surgeries will resume across public and private hospitals from 27 April 2020. This will include resumption of Assisted Reproductive Treatment.
Surgery

Increase in elective surgeries

More category 2 and some category 3 elective surgeries will resume across public and private hospitals from 27 April 2020.

This could include IVF procedures, post-cancer reconstruction procedures, eye procedures and cataracts, endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures, some dental procedures, joint replacements including knee, hip and shoulder and screening programs for cancer and other diseases. It also includes all procedures for children under the age of 18.

This will be managed in a staged process to protect patients and healthcare workers and ensure enough capacity to treat coronavirus (COVID-19) patients is maintained if required.

Further resources