This document provides guidance for healthcare workers, staff, healthcare students and volunteers in NSW Health facilities who are returning from overseas travel, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, have been in contact with a COVID-19 case, or who develop an acute respiratory illness.
From 11.59pm Saturday 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving in Australia from overseas are required to undertake a mandatory 14 day quarantine at designated facilities arranged by the NSW Government. Travellers will be transported directly to designated facilities after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks at the airport.
Healthcare workers, staff, healthcare students and volunteers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 should follow the home isolation guidance for people confirmed to have COVID-19 infection.
All healthcare workers, staff, healthcare students and volunteers who have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the previous 14 days must:
Healthcare workers with acute respiratory illness should not work while they are symptomatic. This includes mild respiratory symptoms of recent onset and unexplained fever.
Healthcare workers who have either fever or history of fever or acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) must immediately self-isolate and should not return to duties until tested and cleared from COVID-19.
All local health districts must have systems in place to arrange for the rapid medical assessment and, if recommended, testing of health care workers for COVID-19.
Supervisors and managers must ensure that procedures are in place to ask every staff member at the beginning of each shift whether they have recent onset of respiratory symptoms or fever, and if so, to ensure staff who have symptoms are either excluded from work or assessed for COVID-19 and, if COVID-19 testing is recommended, to self-isolate until COVID-19 is excluded.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on the advice of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) today considered provisions for essential workers who are considered to be most at risk of acquiring COVID-19 and at higher risk of serious illness if they become unwell.
Excluding healthcare settings where appropriate PPE and precautions are adhered to, the AHPPC considers that, given the transmission characteristics of the virus, the following settings are at higher risk of outbreaks of COVID-19:
AHPPC considers that, based on the limited current evidence, the following people are, or are likely to be, at higher risk of serious illness if they are infected with the virus: (1, 2, 3, 4)
There is limited evidence at this time regarding the risk in pregnant women.
AHPPC recommends that where vulnerable workers undertake essential work, a risk assessment must be undertaken. Risk needs to be assessed and mitigated with consideration of the characteristics of the worker, the workplace and the work. This includes ensuring vulnerable people are redeployed to non-customer based roles where possible. Where risk cannot be appropriately mitigated, employers and employees should consider alternate arrangements to accommodate a workplace absence.
AHPPC recommends that special provisions apply to essential workers who are at higher risk of serious illness and, where the risk cannot be sufficiently mitigated, should not work in high risk setting.