The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently updated its COVID-19 infection control guidelines (8 August) and PPE guidelines (6 August).
All general practice staff must wear a level 1 or type 1 surgical mask (at a minimum) while at work. Cloth masks should only be worn to and from work.
Staff who are directly involved in treating patients must also wear eye protection.
For limited contact, for a short duration, in a controlled environment with a person who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19, the following must be worn:
single-use face mask (surgical mask level 2 or 3)
long-sleeved gown (level 2,3 or 4)
P2/N95 masks are to be used when suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are cohorted and there is risk of unplanned aerosol generating behaviours.
Physical distancing must be applied in the workplace with all direct interactions conducted at a distance. Consider staggering break times to limit levels of staff congregation. Criteria for extended use of PPE is detailed in the infection prevention and control guideline.
Supply of PPE from EMPHN
General practices which are unable to access commercial supplies of PPE, can submit requests via the EMPHN website
PHNs have been provided TGA approved level 1 surgical masks from the National Medical Stockpile to date, and in future will receive level 2 surgical masks from the National Medical Stockpile in alignment with DHHS guidelines.
Until that time, only level 1 surgical masks are available.
In addition, EMPHN can also provide P2/N95 respirator masks for general practices conducting COVID-19 assessment and/or testing.
EMPHN is expecting a limited supply of goggles from the National Medical Stockpile
As soon as EMPHN receives the stock we will take requests for level 2 surgical masks and goggles via our website.
We will keep you informed through the COVID-19 updates of distribution guidance and availability of goggles and level 2 surgical masks. Register for updates via firstname.lastname@example.org
What you can do
In the meantime, health workers that are testing for or seeing confirmed or suspected COVID-19 positive patients should use their own supply of level 2 or 3 surgical masks or P2/N95 respirator masks.
If your practice is unable to test at this time, patients can be referred to alternative testing centres including the following respiratory clinics in our area.