Alert from the Director of Public Health for Residential Aged Care providers
This alert updates the alert provided on 12 December 2022.
Christmas messaging and updated Toolkit
Public Health will continue to provide ongoing support to RACFs throughout the Christmas period to respond to COVID-19 and other acute respiratory infections (contact details listed below).
The COVID-19 risk level in Tasmania remains moderate, which means COVID-19 continues to circulate widely in the community.
In recent weeks we have seen increases in the average daily case numbers; in the number of COVID-19 outbreaks recorded in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) and in the number of deaths where COVID-19 was the cause or was a contributing factor to the death.
Simple advice to protect those at higher risk
It is expected that during the Christmas and New Year period we will see increases in the number of people visiting RACFs. It is also more likely that staff members and residents will take part in family and social events during this period.
Due to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 it is important to continue to implement your COVID safe behaviours and plans to protect the residents of your facilities during the holiday period.
Simple measures include:
- screening all staff and visitors for symptoms of COVID-19 on entry. Download the Screening Tool here.
- requiring all staff and visitors to wear masks when in indoor spaces
- maximising ventilation in indoor spaces and holding any communal events outside where possible
- test staff at least twice per week using RATs especially during and in the weeks after the Christmas period
- encouraging visitors to use a RAT before entering your facility
- encouraging staff to stay at home if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 and to get tested
- encouraging continued practice of established COVID-safe behaviours
- no one should attend a RACF if they have symptoms (including fever or signs of fever, runny nose, cough, sore or itchy throat, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell)
- if they test positive for COVID-19 they should not attend a facility for at least 7 days
- anyone with symptoms but testing negative for COVID-19 should stay home and continue to
avoid visiting Residential Aged Care settings until symptoms have substantially resolved.
These small actions can make a big difference to those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Updates to Aged Care Toolkit
The latest Aged Care toolkit (Version 11) has been updated to reflect new guidance and changes to
key contacts following the stand down of the ACEOC earlier this month.
Version 11 of the toolkit contains the following key updates:
1. Changes to communication channels and key contacts.
All queries related to prevention or management of cases or outbreaks of COVID-19 and other
acute respiratory illnesses should now be directed to Public Health Services.
2. Updates to PPE recommendations
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) advice has been updated to align with revised Infection
Prevention and Control Expert Group (ICEG) guidance.
This includes information about the introduction of plastic aprons as an alternative to full sleeved
gowns in certain circumstances. The PPE required is task specific and is outlined in Table 2: PPE
requirements for different activities.
3. Replacement of the Aged Care COVID-19 Guidance Document
The Aged Care COVID-19 Guidance document, which previously was a standalone resource, has
been removed from the website. The information that was contained in this document has been
revised and is now included in Version 11 of the Aged Care Toolkit as an appendix (7).
A reminder, that all processes for reporting outbreaks and deaths and seeking assistance remain the same. Please continue to phone or email to: [email protected] where required.
What to do
- Download the updated Toolkit
- Continue to notify Public Health of any respiratory outbreaks. To contact the Clinical Nurse
Consultant, call 0499 577 953 or alternatively you can email: [email protected] for assistance
- Continue to monitor all residents and arrange testing if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms
- Notify any COVID-related deaths by email to: [email protected], using the
death notification form
- Stay up to date with important community updates – check our Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage regularly
- ATAGI recommend a winter dose (second booster) of COVID-19 vaccine, four months after a
booster, for those at risk, those aged 65 years and over and those that are immunocompromised
or are residents of aged or disability care.
- Latest information about COVID-19 vaccination, including boosters, is available on our Vaccination webpage or call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738
- Ensure your work is set up to reduce risk of transmission events occurring through the use of
physical distancing, personal protective equipment, hand hygiene and ventilation.
Thank you for your contributions to the Tasmanian COVID-19 response.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Dr Julie Graham
Deputy Director Public Health
Public Health Emergency Operations Centre