PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS BULLETIN WAS RELEASED AT 2.30pm TODAY 31 DECEMBER. THIS WAS AHEAD OF THE VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT’S 3,30pm NEWS CONFERENCE. PLEASE MONITOR THIS SITE AND THE VIC GOVT INFORMATION CLOSELY FOR UPDATED DIRECTIVES.
After such a trying year, I hope that many of you have found at least some opportunity to enjoy some downtime over recent weeks and catch up with family and friends.
With the emergence of six community acquired cases in Melbourne after the two month zero streak, I am conscious that there will be a rising sense of concern about what this might mean for us here at Western Health.
As we have done all year, Western Health is monitoring the evolving situation closely and we have our expert infectious diseases advisors to guide us. We continue to be well placed to provide the information and support needed to help keep you and our patients and visitors safe.
As a result of developments in the past 24 hours, we are now instituting the following directive regarding patients from residential aged care: Effective from today 31 December, all patients admitted from residential aged care facilities are to be swabbed for COVID-19 and at minimum, quarantined in a single room for 14 days from admission. If symptomatic, they should be treated as a high risk suspect COVID-19 case. Tier 3 PPE should be worn by staff looking after these patients.
For those who have not yet had a chance to catch up on morning news reports, the Victorian Government has now renewed the mandate for masks to be worn indoors everywhere other than in your own home. The effect of this for Western Health staff is that masks must now be worn at all times when you are indoors on Western Health premises, unless you are the only person in a room, or when you are eating or drinking.
The limit on the number of people you can have in your own home will also be reduced from 30 to 15 and that directive will be in place from 5pm this afternoon 31 December to include New Year’s Eve.
DHHS is also regularly updating its Case Locations and Outbreaks page for a listing of potential exposure sites as a result of the six new cases in the past 24 hours, so I urge you and all of your team members to check that listing today and also in the coming days as it continues to be updated.
We also need to renew our vigilance around staff who have returned from any high risk zones or who have been in the exposure sites at relevant times. These staff are urged NOT to attend work and to contact the Staff Enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org. to advise of their circumstances. Please note that email is the method to use during this holiday period when staffing levels are reduced. For details on Respiratory Assessment Clinic opening hours click here.
All staff are reminded that it is more important than ever to complete the attestation on arrival at work.
The Victorian Government is also urging caution about travel to and from NSW.
“Travel to and from New South Wales should be reconsidered. If you are visiting regional New South Wales, you should consider returning home. Restrictions may be imposed at short notice. If you have any symptoms, you must get tested and quarantine.” DHHS
A reminder that our own guidelines also highlight Western Health’s existing approach related to the Greater Sydney area as well as the Central Coast, Nepean Blue Mountains and Illawarra Shoalhaven (includes Wollongong and part of the South Coast) regions of NSW. Please see maps of these areas below.
Please communicate these messages widely and discuss the changed measures with your teams.
Thank you for the phenomenal amount of work you have all done this year and I wish you and your families all the very best for a happy and healthy 2021!
Acting Executive Director Operations
P.S. Keep an eye out for the front page of The Age tomorrow and you might see four of our Western Health colleagues featuring in a special photo to celebrate the start of the New Year!
Greater Sydney and surrounding regions - maps
Illawarra Shoalhaven region includes Wollongong and part of the South Coast.
Nepean Blue Mountains region includes areas shown in this map below.