13 July 2022
Be on guard against another wave of COVID-19 infections
- A new wave of high-risk COVID-19 infections is being driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.
- This will lead to a rapid increase in the number of people with COVID-19. Some of these people will be seriously ill and require hospitalisation. Some may even die from the infection.
- Aged care providers must take steps now to minimise the risks to older people receiving aged care.
The impact of the latest COVID-19 subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 is already visible in the community and presents a major risk to the most vulnerable including older people.
These infectious subvariants are expected to become the dominant strains of the coronavirus in Australia. Each state and territory is likely to experience the peak of the wave at slightly different times. NSW Health modelling indicates that the peak in NSW could occur in early August. This comes at a time when our communities and health systems are already under strain from the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and flu.
As an aged care provider, you must take steps to minimise the risk to your staff, residents and other people receiving aged care. These should include:
- maintaining and auditing your infection prevention and control practices to ensure they continue to be strictly applied (e.g. use of personal protective equipment (PPE), hand hygiene, cough etiquette, social distancing and regular cleaning of high-touch surfaces)
- maintaining up to date information on your residents’ vaccination status and eligibility dates, and ensuring timely scheduling of boosters
- paying close attention to screening and monitoring your staff and residential aged care visitors
- regularly checking your staff and aged care recipients for clinical symptoms that may suggest a COVID-19 infection
- ensuring easy access to your local doctors for COVID-19 antiviral prescriptions, which are effective in reducing severe infection
- checking that your local pharmacies have immediate supplies of antiviral medications
- checking you have essential supplies in stock including PPE and rapid antigen tests
- staying up to date with public health requirements and information in your state/territory.
As a provider of residential or in-home care, it is your responsibility to be prepared so that you can respond quickly and lessen the impact of any outbreaks.