The COVID-19 situation is changing rapidly and each state has a different epidemiological situation that is depicting guidelines. It is prudent to check the National and State COVID-19 sites daily. The below have been recently updated:
COVID-19 – CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units – SoNG, v3.9, 09 October 2020
There are currently programs in each state that are advocating / reviewing the requirement for fit testing:
Fit-testing measures the effectiveness of the seal between the respirator and the wearer’s face. It is required for all tight-fitting respirators, including:
• half-face disposable
• half-face reusable
• full-face reusable
• tight-fitting powered air purifying respirators (PAPR).
There are two methods of fit-testing that meet AS/ NZS 1715:2009 Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective equipment:
• Qualitative – a pass/fail test that relies on the wearer’s ability to taste or smell a test agent. This type of test can only be used on half-face respirators.
• Quantitative – uses specialised equipment to measure how much air leaks into the respirator. This type of test can be used on half-face respirators, full-face respirators and PAPR. Quantitative fit-testing results are more objective than qualitative testing because some workers have difficulty with their ability to taste or smell. This can result in a potential for a false pass to the qualitative fit-test and worker health not being adequately protected. For further information refer to www.standards.org.au and search AS/NZS 1715 and / or state direction / recommendations.
The COVID situation is changing rapidly and each state has a different epidemiological situation that is depicting guidelines. It is prudent to check the National and State COVID-19 sites daily. The below have been recently updated:
COVID-19 – CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units – SoNG, v3.8, 23rd August 2020 - https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content /cdna-song-novel-coronavirus.htm
For specific State and Territory information, including testing information, refer to:
*Diagnosis and management of COVID-19 must be undertaken by medical practitioners in accordance with the current guidelines from the State Health Depts/Public Health Units.
*Healthcare workers (HCWs) should NOT be their own testing or treating doctor.
*Clearance testing should be arranged by the HCWs worker’s employer, the HCWs treating doctor, or at a coronavirus assessment centre if testing by the treating doctor is not feasible.
*HCWs and workers in aged care facilities who meet the below criteria can be released from isolation and do not require further testing to return to work or an at-risk setting.
*However, these individuals must meet additional criteria before they can return to work.
1. Confirmed cases who are asymptomatic
The HCW can be released from isolation if at least 10 days have passed since the first respiratory specimen positive for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR was taken and no symptoms have developed during this period.
2. Confirmed or probable cases with mild illness who did not require hospitalisation
The case can be released from isolation if they meet all of the following criteria:
3. Confirmed or probable cases with more severe illness who have been in hospital
a. Confirmed and probable cases clinically ready for hospital Discharge - then they can be discharged to isolation at home or another facility. The case can be released from home isolation if they meet all of the following criteria:
b. Confirmed and probable cases who will be remaining in Hospital: A case that remains in hospital can be released from isolation if they meet all the following criteria:
4. Significantly immunocompromised persons
In addition to meeting the appropriate criteria described in points 1, 2, or 3 above, persons who are significantly immunocompromised and are identified as confirmed or probable cases must meet a higher standard requiring additional assessment. They can be released from isolation when they meet the following additional criterion:
Nb: Refer to Current State Guidelines for Health Care workers guidelines as advice is updated regularly.
The virus that causes COVID-19 infection is transmitted via droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or exhales. As these droplets are heavy and fall onto horizonal surfaces or the floor.
Therefore the importance of social distancing (1.5m), & the requirement to not touch eyes nose or mouth and routinely clean frequently touched surfaces is emphasized.
The information on this page relates to the health and safety precautions and the business continuity plan that HICMR has put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
HICMR are closely monitoring and proactively responding to the developments associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
We understand that the rapidly evolving and unprecedented and widespread effects of COVID-19 may result in high levels of concern, however we want to reassure you that we are well-prepared and well-resourced to manage the impacts and will provide ongoing support.
Health and Safety
Our priority as always remains the health and safety of all customers, their patients, staff and families. Further, as an integral part of Australia's healthcare system, our priority is to ensure the service we provide to the Healthcare sector is not interrupted.
HICMR Response Team
A Pandemic Response Team has been established and is meeting regularly to monitor and respond to the situation. HICMR has established a Business Continuity Plan to ensure continuity of service to our customers and the Healthcare sector.
Continuity of Service
Our priority is to ensure our services remain uninterrupted. Accordingly a number of directives have been implemented to reduce any risk to our business operations.
We appreciate this situation is unprecedented and changing by the day. We will provide updates in the event of changes to our response. In the meantime please do not hesitate to contact your IPC Consultant or Support desk for any further details.
JUST for your information: -
It is important to practise social distancing to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases, such as COVID-19. The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.
Important tips include:
Where can I get more information?
Visit the Australian Government Department of Health homepage at www.health.gov.au
Call the Public Health Information Line on 1800 004 599.
Discuss any questions you have with the Public Health Agency monitoring you.
Contact your state or territory public health agency:
ACT call 02 5124 9213
NSW call 1300 066 055
NT call 08 8922 8044
QLD call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
SA call 1300 232 272
TAS call 1800 671 738
VIC call 1300 651 160
WA visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au or call your local public health unit.
Confirmed A person who tests positive to a validated COVID-19 test.
Suspect Person with history of travel to (including transit through) a country considered to pose a risk of transmission in the 14 days before the onset of illness. OR Close or casual contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19. AND Fever OR Acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath or cough) with or without fever.
Person under investigation It is recommended that clinicians should consider testing people with a clinically compatible illness who travelled to any of the following countries in the 14 days before onset of symptoms:
Higher risk: Mainland China (excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Iran, Italy, South Korea.
Moderate risk: Japan, Singapore, Cambodia, Hong Kong; Indonesia and Thailand.
(This list is based on the risk of the person having been exposed to COVID-19 due to travel to a country with sustained community transmission and other epidemiological evidence. Clinical and public health judgement should be applied).
For Hospital Presentations
Refer to COVID-19 CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units for latest updates.
State Guidelines are being frequently revised
Refer daily to your state health website for up to date information and below guidelines/information.
The Commission has a number of education resources to support healthcare workers (HCWs) and health service organisation’s (HSOs) in implementing effective infection prevention and control (IPC) practices.
The resources include:
The resources are available through the National Hand Hygiene Initiative Learning Management System (NHHI LMS). To access the modules, you will need to log into the NHHI LMS using your current login details, or register as a new user via: -
Antibiotic Awareness Week is here soon – see below resources available to assist your campaign.
1. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/our-work/healthcare-associated-infection/antimicrobial-stewardship/antibiotic-awareness-week/, Selected materials from previous campaigns are also still available.
2. NPS MedicineWise campaign information available from: https://www.nps.org.au/antibiotic-awareness Further digital resources to be made available by the end of the month.
3. World Health Organisation WAAW information and updates to be made available from: http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-antibiotic-awareness-week/en/
4. The Commonwealth Department of Health information, including infographic for consumers 'Do I need antibiotics?' is available: https://www.amr.gov.au/
References and for further information;
Upper Respiratory Infections: Common cold, Sinusitis Pharyngitis, Epiglottitis and laryngotracheitis: Most are of viral etiology. Epiglottitis and laryngotracheitis are exceptions with severe cases likely caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b. Bacterial pharyngitis is often caused by Streptococcus pyogenes.
Pathogenesis: Organisms gain entry to the respiratory tract by inhalation of droplets and invade the mucosa. Epithelial destruction may ensue, along with redness, edema, hemorrhage and sometimes an exudate.
Clinical Manifestations: Initial symptoms of a cold are runny, stuffy nose and sneezing, usually without fever. Other upper respiratory infections may have fever. Children with epiglottitis may have difficulty in breathing, muffled speech, drooling and stridor. Children with serious laryngotracheitis (croup) may also have tachypnea, stridor and cyanosis.
Microbiologic Diagnosis: Common colds can usually be recognised clinically. Bacterial and viral cultures of throat swab specimens are used for pharyngitis, epiglottitis and laryngotracheitis. Blood cultures are also obtained in cases of epiglottitis.
Prevention and Treatment: Viral infections are treated symptomatically. Streptococcal pharyngitis and epiglottitis caused by H influenzae are treated with antibacterials.
Lower Respiratory Infections: Bronchitis, Bronchiolitis and Pneumonia: Causative agents are viral or bacterial. Viruses cause most cases of bronchitis and bronchiolitis. In community-acquired pneumonias, the most common bacterial agent is Streptococcus pneumoniae. Atypical pneumonias can be caused by Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Chlamydia spp, Legionella, Coxiella burnetti and viruses. Nosocomial pneumonias and pneumonias in immunosuppressed patients have etiology with gram-negative organisms and staphylococci as predominant organisms.
Pathogenesis: Organisms enter the distal airway by inhalation, aspiration or by hematogenous seeding. The pathogen multiplies in or on the epithelium, causing inflammation, increased mucus secretion, and impaired mucociliary function; other lung functions may also be affected. In severe bronchiolitis, inflammation and necrosis of the epithelium may block small airways leading to airway obstruction.
Clinical Manifestations: Symptoms include cough, fever, chest pain, tachypnea and sputum production. Patients with pneumonia may also exhibit non-respiratory symptoms such as confusion, headache, myalgia, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Microbiologic Diagnosis: Sputum specimens are cultured for bacteria, fungi and viruses. Culture of nasal washings is usually sufficient in infants with bronchiolitis. Fluorescent staining technic can be used for legionellosis. Blood cultures and/or serologic methods are used for viruses, rickettsiae, fungi and many bacteria. Detection of nucleotide fragments specific for the microbial antigen in question by DNA probe or polymerase chain reaction can offer a rapid diagnosis.
Prevention and Treatment: Symptomatic treatment is used for most viral infections. Bacterial pneumonias are treated with antibacterials. A vaccine against 23 serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae is recommended for individuals at high risk
Reference: Dasaraju PV, Liu C. Infections of the Respiratory System. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8142/
Refer to HICMR Information Sheets - Common Causes of Respiratory Infections (New); Influenza; Human Metapneumovirus; RSV & Bronchiolitis and Legionella.
The new NHMRC Australian IPC Guidelines recommend the use of TGA-listed hospital-grade disinfectants with specific claims for the disinfection of hard surfaces in healthcare facilities.
This changes reflects regulation for hard surface disinfectants which have been implemented by the TGA. The streamlining of the regulatory pathway has resulted in changes to terminology and requirements of entry:
In addition, TGO 54 (Standard for Disinfectants and Sterilants) was superseded by TGO 104 (Standard for Disinfectants and Sanitary Products) on 1st April 2019.
Refer to TGA website for more information. - https://www.tga.gov.au/therapeutic-goods-order-54-standard-disinfectants-and-sterilants-tgo-54
Public Health Alert: Candida Auris
Has caused outbreaks in HCF’s and can spread through contact with affected patients and contaminated surfaces or equipment. C. auris can live on surfaces for several weeks.
NSW Health: Public Health Amendment (Legionella Control) Regulation 2018.
The Australian Government Department of Health and Aging provides updated Australian Immunisation Guidelines to reflect latest national & international evidence for vaccination. If you missed any of your childhood immunisations or require assessment of your immunisation status your GP can assist/ advise/prioritise an action plan.
Refer to your HCF Staff Health Program coordinator if you require further information on specific requirements.
1. Australian Government Department of Health. Immunisations for healthcare workers. https://beta.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/health-professionals/immunisations-for-health-care-workers
2. The Australian Immunisation Handbook. www.immunise.health.gov.au/.../publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10 -home
Accessing the Guidelines
For more information & to provide feedback, please visit the consultation page & make a submission by 5pm (AEST) 15/05/18. https://consultations.nhmrc.gov.au/public_consultations/infection-healthcare