Guidance on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers.

Due to an increased risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in certain geographical areas of Victoria, the PPE Taskforce is providing specific PPE guidance to health services within these regions.

For Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire health services, it is reasonable for:

  • staff to wear a level 1 or type 1 surgical mask in public facing areas – particularly where adequate social distancing is not possible.
  • Patients to wear face masks in these same environments.

In addition:

  • approved visitors must wear a face mask upon entry. Visitors have the option to wear their own face mask, subject to approval by the health service.

Staff in all other regional and rural areas should continue to adhere to the existing published guidance.

This advice will be reviewed on a regular basis, with updated guidance to be provided as appropriate.

What is the correct PPE use and when should PPE be used?

A poster with the correct technique for how to put on and take off your PPE can be found in the DHHS: How to put on and take off your PPE (PDF).

A video created by the Melbourne Health demonstrates the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for contact and droplet precautions.

Further advice can be found in the COVID-19 infection control guidelines - Version 2 - 21 June 2020 (Word)..

For information on PPE for maternity and neonatal services see this resource COVID-19 PPE for maternity and neonatal services (Word).

Infection control posters and signage for workplaces are also available:

What is the current advice on use of masks by the general population?

See the Chief Health Officer’s latest for Victorian communities advice.

Where can GPs gain access to gown supplies?

If you are having trouble sourcing single use fluid repellent gowns from your normal supplier, there are steps to consider: 

  • Ensure that you are using the gowns in accordance with published guidance.
  • Consider extending the use of the gowns that you have (so long as you believe it is reasonable and safe to do so).
  • Consider using a reusable non fluid repelling cloth gown covered by a plastic single use apron.
  • For low risk situations, consider using a plastic single use apron and bare below the elbows, with associated hand and forearm hygiene.
  • Consider use of fluid repellent coveralls, ensuring that you are familiar with safe donning and doffing procedures.
  • Consider use of non-fluid repellent, reusable coveralls in association with plastic single use apron, with safe donning and doffing procedures.

Do I need to wear full PPE when examining a patient with an upper respiratory tract infection?

The current clinical criteria for testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) include an acute respiratory tract infection (for example, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or anosmia). For anyone who meets these clinical criteria, full PPE will be required to examine the patient.

Can we wear the same PPE and swab multiple people?

The use of some PPE can be extended for sessions such as swabbing multiple people in a testing clinic. Masks, protective eye wear and gowns can be used for an extended period in these circumstances.

Gloves must be changed, and hand hygiene performed between each patient. Masks may be worn for up to 4 hours or unless damp or soiled. Goggles and gowns may be used for a similar period but must be replaced if they become soiled. 

When single-use PPE is removed it must be disposed of and not reused. If reusable, it must be cleaned and disinfected before reuse.