Developments in the outbreak
- As of 4 pm, 28 March 2020, Victoria has 685 total confirmed cases, 21 people are in hospitals including three people in intensive care. Three people have died. Almost two-thirds of cases are directly linked to overseas travel, and 21 were locally acquired with no known link to overseas travel or another confirmed case. In total 191 people have recovered.
- Doctors are encouraged to remind all patients that they should stay at home unless going to medical appointments or performing essential tasks.
- This week Australia recorded 3000 cases. That is expected to increase significantly within weeks unless people stay at home.
- If testing health care workers, doctors are reminded to clearly mark pathology slips with ‘HCW’ to ensure the swabs can be easily identified for priority testing.
- Doctors are reminded to ensure they include a mobile contact number for patients who have been tested on pathology slips
- Up-to-date epidemiological data is available on our website.
- From midnight 25 March, category three surgeries will not take place in public hospitals in Victoria until further notice.
- Physical (social) distancing measures should be consistently applied, if at all possible, including clinical settings. The rule of 1 person for every 4 square metres must be maintained to ensure a safe physical distance.
Current directions arising from the declared state of emergency
- A direction for non-essential activity (No 2) was signed on 26 March 2020. This direction prohibits the operation of non-essential businesses and undertakings to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). These directions update the non-essential activity direction from 25 March.
- A prohibited gatherings directions was signed on 25 March 2020. This direction replaces the direction given on 22 March, adding two new categories, namely social sports gatherings and weddings and funerals.
- An isolation (diagnosis) direction was signed on 25 March 2020. This direction requires anyone diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) to isolate at home or another suitable location to slow the spread of the disease.
- A direction for hospital visitors was signed on 23 March 2020. This direction prohibits non-essential visits to hospitals.
- This follows directions for aged care, airport arrivals and cruise ships docking that were signed on 21 March 2020. The Aged Care Directions make provision for restricted access to residential aged care facilities to limit the spread of COVID-19 within a particularly vulnerable population.
Quarantine for Australians arriving in Melbourne from overseas
- As of midnight, 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving into Melbourne from overseas will be quarantined for two weeks in hotel rooms and other accommodation facilities after submitting an Isolation Declaration Card.
- Interstate travellers can return to their home states after fulfilling the mandatory 14 day quarantine requirements.
Supporting healthcare workers
- It’s everyone’s responsibility to support essential healthcare workers – such as doctors and nurses – to stay at work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
- Healthcare workers may need extra help to ensure their children have care so they can work during this period.
- Where possible, partners of essential healthcare workers – who are not healthcare workers themselves – should support them to continue working by taking care of children.
- Older people – such as grandparents – and other at-risk groups should not be engaged as carers to reduce their risk of infection.
- Victoria has expanded its dedicated contact tracing services. From 26 March messages to close contacts are sent via a new platform called Whispr, which requires the person to respond back to the contact tracing team confirming they are isolating at home.,
- Any healthcare or residential aged care worker with a fever or respiratory symptoms must be tested.
- Additional personal protective equipment and testing equipment are due to arrive in the coming weeks.
New Orders for Pharmacists and Prescription medications
- Two public health emergency orders came into effect on 26 March and can be found here: http://www.gazette.vic.gov.au/gazette/Gazettes2020/GG2020S158.pdf
- Pharmacists can supply prescription medications without a prescription for one month in emergency circumstances except for Schedule 8 medicines.
- Doctors prescribing Schedule 8 medicines for non-drug dependent patients will not be required to apply for a Schedule 8 treatment permit for the next six months, but instead, check SafeScript.
- Practitioners will need to apply for Schedule 8 treatment permits for drug dependent patients, including opioid replacement therapy.
- During the pandemic, health practitioners should take all reasonable steps to access SafeScript, as it is very effective in providing up-to-date information about a patient’s prescribing and dispensing history.
A public information hotline is provided by Health Direct – 1800 675 398.
Medical practitioners needing clinical information or to notify suspected or confirmed cases can contact the Department of Health and Human Services Communicable Diseases Section on 1300 651 160 (24 hours).
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