COVID-19 wrap-up for healthcare services

Information current at Thursday 6 August

The VHA’s weekly COVID-19 wrap-ups will continue to be published online and via email, 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 curfew introduced to Metropolitan Melbourne

Victoria continued to experience high numbers of cases throughout the past week, including 725 new cases yesterday alone. The state continues to account for the vast majority of cases and deaths in Australia, with a marked increase in deaths over the past week. In response, the Premier has announced a State of Disaster and increased restrictions across the state, with metropolitan Melbourne now subject to Stage 4 restrictions not experienced during the first wave of the pandemic.

COVID-19 by numbers

Between 29 July and 5 August:

  • More than 3,700 cases were identified in Victoria (9,304 – 13,035 total cases), 1,200+ more than the previous week.
  • Unidentified community transmission, active cases and hospitalisations increased:
    • Over 2,281 Victorian cases were acquired in Australia with no known cause, indicating possible community transmission – representing a 50 per cent increase on the previous week (1,418 cases). Over 3,625 cases are still being investigated.
    • There are 7,227 active cases in Victoria, an increase of over 2,350 on last week (4,849).
    • There are 538 cases in hospital, including 42 in intensive care. This is an increase of over 231 hospital cases in a week, more than doubling the previous week’s increase, but only an increase of 1 in ICU; it is anticipated ICU cases will increase in coming weeks.
  • The number of deaths in Victoria increased to 162, with a further 70 COVID-19 related deaths in the past week. This is 22 more deaths than in the prior week (48), which itself was a marked increase on prior records.
  • Over 192,000 tests were processed (1,553,000< – 1,745,900<). This represents an increase compared to tests conducted in the previous week (168,000). People are encouraged to get tested if they have any symptoms.

 

Updated restrictions

On Sunday, the Victorian Government announced that Victoria had entered a State of Disaster, increasing the powers available to the state. Melbourne was immediately moved to Stage 4 restrictions, with stronger rules to limit the movement of people. These restrictions include a curfew between 8pm – 5am, unless required for work, medical care and caregiving, as well as a 5km limit on travel from your place of residence.

The Victorian Government has also introduced workplace restrictions. Effective now, employers that require their staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees – this is the employer’s responsibility. Health services should ensure that the regulations are correctly followed – further information is available here.

Health workers who carry employer-issued photographic identification, which clearly identifies the employer, do not need a permit.

People working in permitted industries will maintain access to kinder and childcare for their kids under Stage 4 restrictions, regardless of whether they are working onsite or from home. More details are available on the worker permit page.

The Victorian Government has also escalated measures in regional Victoria. Effective now, regional Victoria is under Stage 3 restrictions, and people are required to wear face-masks, as had previously been the case in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.

The Victorian Government has also announced that all Category 3 and non-urgent Category 2 elective surgery in regional Victoria will be paused. This follows a similar announcement for metropolitan Melbourne last week, and is designed to increase healthcare capacity. Where possible, affected surgeries already booked should still take place, however that is at the hospital’s discretion. Category 1 and urgent Category 2 procedures can continue to take place as required.

These changes have prompted changes to Directions from the Chief Health Officer, including:

Services should ensure they are compliant with all the Directions.

Further developments

As the pandemic continues, a range of new support, resources and reports were released in the past week.

Aged care changes

A total of 108 deaths in Victoria have been connected to aged care, with 1,435 active cases relating to aged care facilities. As the situation in Victoria continues to develop, attempts have been made to support and improve the aged care response:

  • The Victorian Government released updated advice and COVID-19 screening tools for residential aged care providers, available here. The updated resources include:
  • In addition to the requirement for all Victorian aged care workers to wear face masks, aged care workers in Victorian residential aged care facilities are now advised to wear face shields as a precautionary measure.
    • Single use face shields are being distributed from the National Medical Stockpile (NMS) to all residential aged care facilities in Victoria. Facilities will be directly contacted by delivery providers to receive the allocated face shields over the coming days, with priority distribution to Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire.
    • A training guide on face shield use has been released.
  • The Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerard Mansour, has been appointed as an advisor to the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre.
    • He has been recruited primarily to work with the families of inhabitants in residential aged care facilities.
  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson has written to aged care providers regarding their obligations to implement all necessary steps to mitigate the risks of COVID-19.
    • The Commission will shortly be undertaking unannounced checks of aged care services to observe infection control practices and ensure that everyone is adhering to safe PPE protocols and infection control arrangements.
    • Read the Commissioner’s letter here.