COVID-19 wrap-up for healthcare services

Information current at Thursday 9 July

The VHA’s weekly COVID-19 wrap-ups will continue to be published online and via VHA emails, while special editions will be created when major news affecting members is released. For the latest information, check the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Health websites.

If you have a query that you would like the VHA to follow up with Government, please email feedback@vha.org.au and we will work with relevant stakeholders to secure a response.

Victoria breaks daily case record as restrictions reintroduced to Metropolitan Melbourne

Following further increases in COVID-19 cases, Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire have returned to Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ Restrictions.

COVID-19 by numbers

Between 1 and 8 July:

  • Victorian cases significantly increased with over 700 cases identified (2,232 – 2,942 cases).
  • There was a big increase in unidentified community transmission, active cases and hospitalisations.
    • Over 456 cases had no known cause, indicating community transmission
    • 860 cases are currently active in Victoria
    • 41 cases are in hospital, including 7 in intensive care
  • The number of deaths in Victoria increased to 22, with two new COVID-19 related deaths in the past week.
  • Over 170,000 tests were processed (829,000< – 1,000,800<). This is an increase of over 40,000 from the previous week (130,000). Victoria recorded at least one day where over 29,000 tests were conducted. People are encouraged to get tested if they have any symptoms.

 

Updated restrictions

Effective now, residents in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire should not leave home, unless it is for:

  • Shopping for food or essential items
  • Work or study
  • Exercise within your shire / area
  • Medical and care giving

This direction will be in place for 6 weeks until 11.59pm on 19 August 2020. The rest of regional Victoria is currently unaffected, however, there is an enforced border with New South Wales.

These restrictions follow a big increase in the number of cases, with Victoria breaking its daily case record and its total active case record. The increased case load has been due to increased community transmission. The first time Victoria was put in lockdown was largely due to infection in returning international travellers.

The increase in restrictions has led to updated directions for:

Services should follow the updated directions. Further updated directions in response to the restrictions change are also likely.

 

Changes to schooling

In terms of schooling, from Monday, Year 11 and 12 students, VCE students and Year 10 students for the VCE component of their learning, if they are doing VCE subjects, will return to normal face-to-face learning. For all other students, the school holidays will extend for a further week. Teachers will still be available to teach students whose parents have essential jobs. Services should ensure staff are aware of the schooling option if it is relevant to them.

 

Lockdown of public housing towers

This larger lockdown follows the lockdown of nine public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne over the weekend. This was due to the identification of a number of cases in the towers and its spread between the towers, with the potential for a major outbreak. This process was intended to last for 5 days, potentially extending to 14 days depending on testing results, with a whole-of-government response to test and support residents. This response included several VHA members. Following the latest lockdown changes, the strategy is to complete the testing and then, as soon as possible, move those nine towers to the same level of restrictions as the rest of Melbourne.

 

New resources for healthcare workers

As the situation in Victoria has developed, a range of new and updated materials, advice and guidance have been released for health services at a state and federal level. This includes:

Services should ensure that staff are aware of any changes. Resources are likely to be updated in response to the changed restrictions.

 

Impact on aged care policy

COVID-19 has also continued to have an impact on aged care policy. Following a request from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Commonwealth Government agreed to extend its reporting period due to the impact of COVID-19. The Commission will now deliver its final report by 26 February, 2021.