DHHS COVID-19 Infection prevention and control guideline - version 5 was released this week.
Key updates include:
- The definition of suspected cases include people awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, where they meet clinical criteria that could be consistent with coronavirus.
- Hand drying methods are highlighted, emphasising that hands must be completely dry. Cloth towels should be avoided, paper towel is preferred. Air dryers can be used in public areas but are not recommended for clinical areas.
- All staff in high-risk areas, including non-public facing staff, must wear a surgical mask while at work. Cloth masks cannot be used at work. Eye protection should be worn for all patient-facing interactions regardless of risk of droplet exposure.
- Gloves should not be washed or have alcohol-based hand rub applied as such practices may affect glove integrity. Double gloving is not recommended.
- Skin injuries may occur where healthcare staff are wearing PPE for prolonged periods. Remove the respirator or face shield every 2 to 4 hours for up to 15 minutes following correct doffing procedures to give the skin a break and relieve pressure duration. Moisturisers or barrier creams may be of benefit.
- Clearance from isolation or quarantine (home or in hospital) is based on a patient being symptom free for 72 hours and being at least 10 days after illness onset (or positive test date) and testing at day 11 for those in quarantine and completion of 14 days in quarantine.
- DHHS does not recommend the use of dry or wet fogging for coronavirus (COVID-19) cleaning and disinfection.
- It is recommended that all providers keep records of all daily attestations for a minimum six-week period for the purposes of informing contact tracing in the event of an active outbreak.
- There is guidance on the cleaning and disinfection protocols to be included in the COVID-Safe plan.
- Employers are required to undertake a risk assessment to inform what actions should be taken once they are aware of either a suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case among employees or visitors.
- Asymptomatic testing of HCWs working in high-risk settings is a new measure to protect both patients and staff. Asymptomatic HCWs are not required to quarantine while awaiting the results of testing.