Alert from the Director of Public Health for residential aged care providers
This COVID-19 alert updates the alert provided on 29 March 2022.
Changes to isolation requirements
From 14 October 2022 individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be mandated to isolate, but it will continue to be recommended that anyone with respiratory symptoms stay at home and take steps to protect others.
Elderly people are an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and other viruses. Residents of aged care facilities are also more likely to be exposed to viruses because of the number of people coming and going from the premises.
Therefore, Public Health recommends that anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should not attend a high-risk setting, including residential aged care facilities as visitors or for the purposes of work for at least seven days after their positive result.
Staff cases of COVID-19 should stay at home and not attend the workplace for seven days from the date of their positive test. Staff should check with their own workplace for their local workplace policy.
To help protect other residents who may be at risk of severe illness any resident who test positive to COVID-19 or has symptoms of a respiratory illnesses should isolate from other residents for at least seven days from the date of their positive test result or until their symptoms resolve if they test negative to COVID-19.
An updated version of the Aged Care Toolkit (COVID-19, Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus and Other Acute Respiratory Infection Outbreaks in Residential Aged Care Facilities) outlining the new recommendations will be distributed soon.
Visitors should not attend a high-risk setting, including residential aged care facilities for at least seven days following their positive test or for seven days after being identified as a close contact.
Visitors who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last seven days or who are a close contact of a case who wish to enter a RACF should notify the facility in advance and seek permission to enter.
The RACF should have a process in place to assess the request and, if approved, arrange for measures to minimise the risk to staff and residents, such as through mask wearing, avoiding shared spaces etc. Advice can be sought from Public Health as required.
Below is a summary of the current Public Health recommendations
All people who test positive to COVID-19 should:
- Stay home until acute symptoms have resolved
- Not attend residential aged or disability care facilities or hospitals, as workers or visitors, for at least seven days after their positive result
- Avoid large gatherings and indoor crowded places for at least seven days
- Inform Public Health of positive result and if a rapid antigen test (RAT) was used
- Let your workplace know about your positive result – workplaces may have policies in place for the return to work of cases and close contacts of COVID-19
- If you must leave home, wear a mask when indoors and on public transport
Individuals who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive are at increased risk of getting COVID-19. There are simple steps they can take to reduce the risk to others:
- Monitor for symptoms and test immediately if symptoms develop
- Stay home if they get any symptoms
- It is recommended that close contacts don’t visit other people at high risk of severe illness, anyone in hospital, or an aged or disability care facility
- If close contacts must visit others, it is recommended they do a rapid antigen test (RAT) before going
- It is recommended close contacts wear a facemask when indoors or on public transport for 7 days after the last contact with case or from when the case tested positive
To ensure the ongoing successful management of the COVID-19 response, to protect our healthcare system and those that are vulnerable to severe disease, it is important to test for COVID-19 when symptomatic.
Regardless of the result individuals should remain at home until the symptoms have mostly resolved as it is likely they may have another infectious illness.
Workplace policy will continue to be used to regulate workplace attendance in accordance with procedures identified within individual businesses’ risk assessments. This may include work from home recommendations or restrictions on returning to work if identified as a COVID-19 case or contact along with additional protective measures, including mask wearing in certain situations and when risk is high in the community.
Public Health will continue to monitor the level of COVID-19 in the community and continue to update Tasmanians about COVID-19 risk levels.
For more information regarding general information for the community, visit: Managing the current COVID-19 risk | Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
What to do
- Ensure your Work Health and Safety Risk Assessment is up to date, and you have policies in place to manage symptomatic staff and staff who become COVID-19 cases or close contacts Continue to monitor all residents and arrange testing if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms.
- It is recommended that you continue to screen all visitors and staff to ensure that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms or have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Employees and visitors with symptoms or who test positive SHOULD NOT attend facilities for at least seven days.
- Ensure your facility is set up to continue to reduce risks of transmission by using physical distancing, personal protective equipment, ventilation, hand hygiene and other measures.
- Continue to support all staff and residents to get tested for COVID-19 if they have any cold or flu-like symptoms or loss of smell or taste with a PCR or RAT.
- ATAGI recommends staying up to date with vaccinations for residents and staff
- Details on boosters can be found here www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/vaccination-information/covid-19-vaccination/boosters-and-third-primary-doses
- Stay up to date with important community updates – check www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au regularly.
- Get in touch with the Aged Care Emergency Operations Centre by calling, or via email at [email protected] if you have any questions.
- Call the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 and ask for the PHEOC Clinical Nurse Consultant on call for any urgent queries.
Thank you for your contributions to the Tasmanian COVID-19 response.