INTERNATIONAL REPORTS

Response from Australia

The Australian Department of Health first published deaths linked to COVID-19 in care homes and among users of home care services on April 15, 2020. As of April 8, 2021, there have been 2,051 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among government-subsidized residents in aged care facilities, 97% of which were in the state of Victoria. There have been 685 deaths among residents, 95% of which were in the state of Victoria, suggesting that 75% of all COVID-19 deaths in Australia have been among care home residents. These figures are based on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are for the place of residence, not place of death, so may include residents who died in hospital. Among people who use government-subsidized home care, there have been 81 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 8 deaths (Source: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-current-situation-and-case-numbers#cases-in-aged-care-services). In 2020, there were approximately 208,500 people living in aged care residential accommodation in Australia. Therefore, the numbers of care home COVID-19 deaths would amount to 0.33% of this population (Source: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/aged-care).

A weekly report includes data on the number of outbreaks and staff infected in care homes. As of April 1, 2020, there have been no active cases of COVID-19 among people living in care homes since October 28, 2020. In total, there have been 2,238 staff with COVID-19 infections (Source: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/covid-19-outbreaks-in-australian-residential-aged-care-facilities).

2.02.-Australia-20210729

Last updated: July 29th, 2021

As of the April 8, 2021, there have been 29,385 confirmed COVID-19 infections in Australia, and 909 deaths, according to the Australian Department of Health, corresponding to 3.56 COVID-19 attributed deaths per 100,000 population. The first case of COVID-19 in Australia was identified on January 25, 2020, from a man who travelled from Wuhan to Melbourne. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus on February 27, 2020, and the first economic stimulus package on March 12, 2020. By mid-March, most states and territories were in lockdown. Cases began falling across the country in April, and on May 8, 2020, the government announced a three-stage plan to ease lockdown restrictions. Victoria entered into its second wave in late June, and by October 26, it reported no new cases or deaths. As of April, 2021, COVID-19 cases have been stable nation-wide since October (Sources: https://covid19.who.int/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAvvKBBhCXARIsACTePW9yMx1R31Uav8H6oLh3wEAVV68EZmmy7lb_v-FDkgTaL5mwurWha24aApaFEALw_wcB; https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-at-a-glance-27-february-2021; https://deborahalupton.medium.com/timeline-of-covid-19-in-australia-1f7df6ca5f23).

2.01.-Australia-20210729

Last updated: July 29th, 2021

    The use of face masks and respirators in the context of Covid-19 (Department of Health, Australia)

    The use of face masks and respirators in the context of Covid-19 (Department of Health, Australia)

    This document provides a summary of recent evidence around the use of face masks and respirators in the context of COVID-19. It has general advice on the minimum requirements for the use of face masks and respirators. This advice is for health and residential care workers and other occupational groups who may have contact with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19, or people in quarantine. . It includes:

    • general considerations on the use of masks and respirators
    • evidence guiding recommendations for the use of masks or respirators in the context of Covid-19
    • recommendations for the use of masks and respirators in health care in the context of Covid-19

    Infection Control Expert Group, The use of face masks and respirators in the context of Covid-19. Canberra, Department of Health, 2021, 24 p.


     

    The use of face masks and respirators in the context of Covid-19 (Department of Health, Australia)

    Last updated: April 30th, 2021

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with disability (Department of Health, Australia)

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with disability (Department of Health, Australia)

      Some people with disability will be at greater risk of more serious illness if infected by coronavirus. Reasons for this include chronic conditions or a weakened immune system. This website offers them information about the following topics:

      • Why people with disability are at risk
      • Protecting yourself
      • Services and support
      • Supporting people with disability
      • Auslan videos
      • More information

      Coronavirus (Covid-19) advice for people with disability. Canberra, Department of Health, 2021, online.


       

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with disability (Department of Health, Australia)

      Last updated: April 29th, 2021

        Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with chronic health conditions (Department of Health, Australia)

        Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with chronic health conditions (Department of Health, Australia)

        This website provides information for people with chronic conditions, as they are at greater risk of more serious illness if they are infected with coronavirus (COVID-19).

        The information includes:

        • Conditions that increase the risk of serious illness from COVID-19
        • Protecting yourself
        • Services and support
        • More information

        Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with chronic health conditions. Canberra, Department of Health, 2021, online.


         

        Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people with chronic health conditions (Department of Health, Australia)

        Last updated: April 28th, 2021

          Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people in residential aged care facilities and visitors (Department of Health, Australia)

          Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people in residential aged care facilities and visitors (Department of Health, Australia)

          Residents and their visitors need to keep up to date with changes in residential aged care to protect residents during COVID-19. Managers, staff, family, friends and residents need to work together to protect older people in aged care facilities.

          This website includes the following sections:

          • Advice for care recipients
          • If you are not feeling well
          • Know the visitor restrictions at your facility
          • What visitors need to do
          • More information

          Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people in residential aged care facilities and visitors. Canberra, Department of Health, 2021, online.


           

          Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for people in residential aged care facilities and visitors (Department of Health, Australia)

          Last updated: April 27th, 2021

            Industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during Covid-19. Updated 20 november 2020 (Department of Health, Australia)

            Industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during Covid-19. Updated 20 november 2020 (Department of Health, Australia)

            The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, the Department of Health, consumers and aged care peak bodies have revisited industry codes to support aged care providers make informed decisions regarding visitation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

            The objective of the Code is to provide an agreed industry approach to ensure aged care residents are provided the opportunity to receive visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, while minimising the risk of its introduction to, or spread within, a residential care home.

            Key Items:

            • Guidelines for visitation to residential aged care facilities have been revised to provide more proportionate protection to residents.
            • Revised guidelines now include a tiered approach outlining how residential aged care providers can respond to COVID-19.
            • The new ‘Tiered Escalation’ model allows residential aged care providers to escalate or deescalate their response depending on the COVID-19 situation they are facing.
            • Fewer restrictions will be placed on visitors where there is no community transmission (Tier 1), and ramped up if the facility is located within a defined hotspot (Tier 2) or when there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the community (Tier 3).
            • The ‘Tiered Escalation’ model should be used to determine and continually assess the level of visitation to aged care residents and additional restrictions required to protect residents against the ongoing risk of COVID-19

            Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) et al. Industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during Covid-19 (Updated 20 november 2020). Canberra, Department of Health, 2020, 26 p.


             

            Industry code for visiting residential aged care homes during Covid-19. Updated 20 november 2020 (Department of Health, Australia)

            Last updated: April 26th, 2021

            Dated:  20210218

            Aged care and disability care staff and residents are in the first priority group to receive vaccines. Australia received its first batch of vaccines on February 15. However, rollout is significantly behind schedule. In early March, Italy blocked the export of 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia, which further delayed the rollout. (Source: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19/when-will-i-get-a-covid-19-vaccine; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/04/italy-blocks-export-of-250000-astrazeneca-vaccine-doses-to-australia)

            4.09.-Australia-20210218

            Last updated: March 19th, 2021

            Dated:  20210218

            Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is responsible for responding to health emergencies. While they released response plan in early in the pandemic, none of the committee’s members are aged care specialists. Despite acknowledging the significant health risk that COVID-19 poses to elderly populations, the response from the Australia Government and AHPPC were insignificant. Individual states have been able to coordinate a more effective response. During Victoria’s second wave, they declared outbreaks very quickly and put the state or certain cities into short term lockdowns to prevent further spread. (Source: https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-12/aged-care-and-covid-19-a-special-report.pdf; https://ltccovid.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Australia-LTC-COVID19-situation-12-October-2020-1-1.pdf)

            4.03.-Australia-20210218

            Last updated: March 19th, 2021

            Dated:  20210218

            Australia experienced PPE shortages at the start of the pandemic. Once cases started to decrease, the National Medical Stockpile was effective at supplying PPE. The National Medical Stockpile contracted suppliers from both Australia and overseas. All products meet the National Medical Stockpile quality assurance measures by ensuring products deployed are safe, effective and fit for purpose. (Source: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-the-health-and-disability-sector/personal-protective-equipment-ppe-for-the-health-workforce-during-covid-19#accessing-ppe)

            4.05.-Australia-20210218

            Last updated: March 19th, 2021