A residential aged care facility (RACF) COVID-19 outbreak is now defined as when:
- a resident who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 via a PCR test and has been onsite at the RACF at any time during their infectious period
- two or more staff/visitors diagnosed with COVID-19 through PCR test within 72 hours who worked/visited during their infectious period.
The infectious period is generally considered to be 48 hours prior to symptom onset or test date if asymptomatic.
An RACF COVID-19 exposure is defined as when:
- there is one COVID-19 positive staff member or a COVID-19 positive visitor has exposed the facility during their infectious period
- the infectious period is generally considered to be 48 hours prior to symptom onset or test date if asymptomatic.
In alignment with these changes, NSW Health documents have been updated and new tools have been provided to RACFs to manage outbreaks and exposures inclusive of:
- immediate public health actions recommended following a residential aged care facility COVID-19 outbreak.
- COVID-19 exposure risk determination in aged and disability care settings. This document is used to assess the risk of staff who have been exposed being either furloughed or returning to work. This risk assessment can also be used by GPs to assess the level of risk in a facility in relation to a resident visit. For most facilities in an exposure environment, the risk is low for GPs to visit unwell residents in full PPE. GPs are encouraged to discuss with the facility if this situation arises. Large facilities in an exposure will have some wings open and functioning normally.
Despite changes to close contact definitions for the community, the above risk assessment will continue to be used for the aged care sector.
At the time of writing across the region, there are a number of outbreaks and exposures. Where the RACF has gone into an outbreak, GP teams have been notified via email by Healthy North Coast and locum agencies are on standby should any facilities needs escalate.
Due to the lower risk of exposure sites, GP teams are not being notified of these unless they escalate. The Public Health Unit, Local Health Districts and Healthy North Coast have all been pulling together over the holiday period to keep these vulnerable members of our community safe.