Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.
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COVID-19 case definitions

To determine the appropriate levels of PPE use, please refer to A guide to the conventional use of personal protective equipment (PPE) - COVID-19 (Word). The guidance has been updated to align eye protection advice with the Victorian Health Service Guidance and Response to COVID-19 Risks (VHSGR) and to amend the High Risk Suspected (SCOVID) definition to include guidance on people who have been released from a quarantine facility (in the last 14 days).

The table below provides definitions relating to COVID-19 status. The guidance includes further definitions and examples to inform application.

Confirmed cases of  COVID-19

1. A person who tests positive to a validated SARS-CoV-2 test

High-risk suspected cases of COVID-19

1.A person in quarantine for any reason (including: being a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, or a returned traveller from overseas or a relevant interstate area with outbreaks (as defined by public health in the last 14 days) with or without a compatible clinical illness. This group is also referred to as “at-risk”.

People who have been released from a quarantine facility (in the last 14 days) but have not undertaken any post-quarantine testing (Days 17 and 21) should be tested and Tier 3 PPE should be utilised until their negative status is confirmed.

2. ​A person with a compatible clinical illness who meets one or more of the following epidemiological risk factors in the 14 days prior to illness onset:

  • Contact with a confirmed case or an exposure site as defined by public health
  • Was employed in an area where there is an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission, for example:
    • hotel quarantine workers or any workers at ports of entry
    • aged care workers/ healthcare workers working in a location where there are active outbreaks
    • other high-risk industries (such as abattoirs) where there are known cases or high levels of community transmission
  • Lived in or visited a geographically localised area at higher risk as determined by public health.
  • Has been released from a quarantine facility

Low-risk suspected cases of COVID-19

1. Have symptoms that could be consistent with COVID-19 (for example, cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath or runny nose) but no epidemiological risk factors as listed in the high-risk definition.

*Where a patient’s history cannot be obtained, they should be considered as a Low-risk suspected case until further screening information can be obtained, at which point a revised diagnosis of the patient’s condition can be made and appropriate changes to PPE implemented.

Negative COVID-19 cases

1. A person who tests negative to a validated SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid test

2. A person who is a cleared case

3. A person who screens negative and/or has no clinical or epidemiological risk factors for COVID-19

Personal protective equipment supply data 

This weekly personal protective equipment (PPE) supply update (PPT) for the health services sector provides stock availability, weeks of cover at current and peak use and an overview of the supply of each of the models of P2/N95 respirators.

P2/N95 respirators

  • Healthcare workers must wear a N95/P2 respirator
    • at all times when providing care to high-risk suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients, regardless of the amount of time in contact.
    • undertaking an aerosol generating procedure (AGPs) on a person assessed as low-risk suspected, high-risk suspected or, or a confirmed COVID-19 case.
    • providing care to a person assessed as low-risk suspected, high-risk suspected or a confirmed COVID-19 case and there is a risk of aerosol generating behaviours.
    • when closely interacting with returned travellers at ports of entry or hotel quarantine locations, including performing testing for coronavirus.
    • when providing care to low-risk suspected COVID-19 patients if the risk of community transmission is increased in line with the Victorian Health Service Guidance and Response to COVID-19 Risks (VHSGR) COVID Active and COVID Peak stages. See the VHSGR.
  • Use of N95/P2 respirators are not required for healthcare workers
    • undertaking surgery or AGPs on patients who are not low-risk suspected, high-risk suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 (Tier 1 PPE precautions)
    • undertaking testing for COVID-19 at a community testing site (Tier 2 PPE precautions). If the risk of community transmission increases, in line with the Victorian Health Service Guidance and Response to COVID-19 Risks (VHSGR) COVID Active and COVID Peak stages, Tier 3 PPE is recommended for staff undertaking testing for COVID-19 at community testing sites. Please note this direction in the VHSGR.
    • patients with aerosol generating behaviours who are not confirmed or assessed as low or high-risk suspected of COVID-19 (Tier 1 PPE Precautions).
  • If the risk of bodily fluid splash is low, staff may wear a non-fluid resistant P2/N95 respirator with a face shield.
  • Do not use P2/N95 respirators with a valve. The air you exhale is likely to not be filtered and may expose other healthcare workers and patients.

Transition from the 3M Aura 9320A+ to the 3M Aura 1870+ respirator – Update

  • Previous advice has been circulated by the Department of Health regarding the State Supply Chain transition of its stock holding from the 3M Aura 9320A+ to the 3M Aura 1870+ respirator over the coming months. 
  • As part of this transition, the 9320A+ will be available in progressively smaller numbers in the state supply as this model is phased out.
  • The State Supply Chain has secured a significant forward supply of 3M Aura 1870+ (1870+) respirators.
  • The 1870+ is the same shape and a very similar design to the 9320A+ and has been performing well in fit testing with Victorian healthcare workers.
  • The 1870+ provides benefits for use in health services when compared to the 9320A+.
    • It has been specifically designed for healthcare use.
    • It is considered a surgical respirator by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
    • It has superior fluid resistance (level 3).
  • The department recommends that staff who are fit tested to other N95 models wear these and that all health services begin as soon as is practicable fit testing of their staff to the 1870+ or other P2/N95 respirators such as the Industree Trident P2.
  • New guidance on the use of respirators and order for fit testing will be issued to the sector shortly, which will reaffirm that the 1870+ and other models should be used to fit test health care workers instead of the 9320A+.
  • For any new staff not yet fit tested, fit testing should be conducted as per the revised guidance.
  • For staff that have already been fit tested to one or more of the respirators that are no longer included on the list of respirators for testing (i.e. Aura 9320+, Detmold and Honeywell), health services will need to re-test these staff over time to ensure they are fit tested to at least 3 of the available respirators.

Eye protection

  • Healthcare workers who are directly involved in treating patients are required to wear eye protection for all confirmed, low-risk and high-risk suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Eye protection options include; a face shield (where practical), goggles or safety glasses.
  • Reusable face shields should be chosen over single-use face shields, where possible. For reusable face shields, a process needs to be in place to ensure appropriate decontamination and storage between uses (i.e. meal breaks) and at the end of a shift/use.

Factsheet - Use of eye protection during the COVID-19 pandemic for healthcare workers (Word)


  • Keep staffing in high-risk areas to the minimum required to provide appropriate care and ensure patient safety.
  • Wherever possible, avoid situations where other staff attend these areas .

Extended use

  • Unless damp or soiled, staff may wear a surgical mask, P2/N95 respirator for up to four hours.
  • Isolation gowns may be used for extended periods in specific cohorting environments.
  • Single-use goggles and face shields can be worn for an entire shift. However, eye protection must be replaced after assisting with an aerosol generating procedure.
  • Where single-use face masks/face shields/goggles are used for extended periods and are needed to be removed to eat and/or drink, hand hygiene and sanitising should be maintained.
  • For reusable face shields a process needs to be in place to ensure appropriate decontamination.
  • Remove and dispose of all items before going on a break and replace before resuming work.
  • Change gloves between every patient interaction.

Read COVID-19 infection control guidelines (Word) for more on extended use.

Employers and individuals need to consider strategies to minimise the impact of heat and heat stress, particularly during the warmer months. Controlling heat stress in health and human services is a guide for employers and their staff to prevent heat related illness at work, when wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response.

For health service PPE supply enquiries, please contact the following:

Service type Primary source of PPE
NDIS The Commonwealth Department of Health:
Private aged care services The Commonwealth Department of Health:
Private hospitals Private suppliers

Public Hospitals can request PPE through the Zycus online ordering portal. Other DHHS-funded services can request PPE through

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

The appropriate use of PPE for the Victorian health sector during the COVID-19 pandemic response is detailed within the Guide to the conventional use of PPE (Word), supported by the current COVID status within The Victorian Health Service Guidance and Response to COVID-19 Risks (VHSGR).

We also have other resources:

Standard sequence for putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) personal protective equipment (Word)

Further advice can be found in the COVID-19 infection control guidelines (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:

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.

Further resources