December 31, 2021

Overnight the Department of Health released new guidelines for the furloughing of healthcare workers, as part of the updated Pandemic (Quarantine, Isolation and Testing) Order. This followed yesterday’s announcement about changes to the definitions of COVID “contacts”, as decided by the National Cabinet.

As a result, COVID guidelines that apply to us at Western Health have also changed. These changes, which relate to requirements for staff to get tested and to isolate after exposure to COVID, are detailed in this bulletin. We currently have a number of employees who are isolating because they have either tested positive to COVID, are classified as household, social or workplace contacts of a confirmed case, or have visited an exposure site

Our new guidelines, which follow the Department of Health guidelines, have been carefully considered to balance preventing further spread of COVID whilst continuing to provide Best Care for our patients and communities. The changes mean that some staff who are currently isolating will be able to safely return to work earlier than expected.

The following guidelines now apply to all Western Health workers (both clinical and non-clinical):

COVID Exposure Status New Guidance Additional Precautions
Social, Workplace or Education Contacts Obtain a PCR test as soon as possible

May return to work if asymptomatic while waiting for PCR result

Complete 3 asymptomatic PCR tests weekly as part of surveillance program until 14 days post exposure


Staff returning to work on site under the new guidance MUST:

·        Be asymptomatic

·        Be fully vaccinated (including 3rd dose when eligible)

·        Wear an N95 mask at work for 14 days from exposure

·        Not share break areas with mask off

·        Get tested with the mildest of symptoms

Exposed Person

(notification by text message from Department of Health)

May return to work if asymptomatic

Complete 1 PCR test per week until Day 14 from exposure.

Can return to work while waiting PCR result


Additional testing requirements as outlined will be available to eligible staff at Sunshine Hospital and Footscray Hospital COVID testing clinics and at Williamstown Hospital Emergency Department from 12pm each day for staff on site.  Opening hours of Western Health Operated COVID testing clinics can be found here.

In addition to the changes with regards to testing, confirmed cases are now being cleared 7 days following their positive test. *Please note that if you have received a text message from the Department of Health, informing you of early clearance at day 7, you are required to contact Western Health’s Respiratory Assessment Clinic medical team for an individual risk assessment and advice. The RAC doctors can be contacted via email on racdr@wh.org.au. (Please include your name, phone number, date of positive test and date of first symptoms and they will get back to you as soon as possible).


As this advice is evolving, all staff who have had an exposure to COVID should contact the following teams for individual advice and testing requirements:

Western Health COVID Staff Enquireswhscovid-19staffclinicenquiries@wh.org.au

  • If you have been advised that you have had contact with someone who is COVID positive in the community or at another workplace
  • If you live with someone who is COVID Positive
  • If you live with someone who has had contact with someone who is COVID positive
  • Staff who have tested positive and have NOT worked on site within the 48hrs of testing positive (PCR test)
  • If you are returning from International Travel


Western Health Contact Tracing TeamWHCOVIDContactTracing@wh.org.au

  • If you have worked on site at WH within 48hrs of testing positive (PCR test)


At Western Health, we are also making N95 masks available to staff at the manned main entry points of our sites. In addition, we suggest affected staff bring an N95 home to wear on entry to the Health Service for their next shift.

Western Health’s COVID leadership team will continue to work closely with the Department of Health, just as we have done throughout the pandemic. We will keep you updated as any further changes are made.

In the meantime, I want to encourage all Western Health staff members to keep following the of COVID Safety principles:  socially distance, wear appropriate PPE, get your booster vaccine when eligible, fill out the daily attestation, and please use QR codes every time you use a tea or break room. Please also make use of the multiple marquees and outdoor spaces that are suitable for staff breaks, as listed in the bulletin below.
There is also the COVID-Normal Daily Practice page on the microsite, which is a one-stop shop for all the things you need to do each day to keep safe during COVID Peak.

Thanks everyone for your continued hard work and dedication to our patients and communities.



Acting Executive Director Operations



COVID summary

Confirmed COVID ward inpatients at Western Health: 46

Confirmed COVID ICU inpatients at Western Health: 8

Confirmed COVID patients receiving Western Health care in the community: 146

COVID tests by our testing sites yesterday: 1921

Staff accessing surveillance testing yesterday: 476

Outdoor break areas

Western Health has set up several outdoor marquees for staff breaks, which complement existing outdoor break areas across our sites.


  • WCHRE courtyard
  • Courtyard near coffee cart and retail pharmacy
  • Marquee near JKWC entrance
  • Marquee outside Portable Building 1


  • Ground Floor Courtyard
  • Level 1 outdoor courtyard


  • No outdoor areas as both sites have shaded outdoor areas suitable for breaks


  • Palliative care garden


  • Marquee next to generator room

What's new on the microsite?

Click here to see the latest QRGs, clinical guidelines and other updates uploaded to the microsite.

CHO update

Click here to read the most recent update by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.