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COVID-19: GP Alert (10 August 2020)

August 10, 2020

WEBINAR - COVID-19 update for GPs

GPs from across the Darling Downs and West Moreton region are invited to attend a webinar with Dr Liam Flynn from Darling Downs Health's Public Health Unit who will provide an update on COVID-19.

DATE: Friday, 14 August 2020
TIME: 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Click here to access the webinar

Additional psychological services for patients in lockdown or isolation

The Australian Government Department of Health has announced it will provide ten additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people subject to further restrictions in areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, these sessions can be accessed primarily by residents of Victoria, however some of your patients within the Darling Downs and West Moreton region may be eligible if they are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders.

These new MBS items will be available under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS initiative (Better Access) from 7 August 2020 until 31 March 2021. The additional ten sessions will be available to:

  • patients in areas with public health orders in place that restrict movement within the state or territory at any time from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 (e.g. lockdown or stay at home orders); and
  • patients that are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders.

In order to access these sessions, patients will be required to:

  • have a Mental Health Treatment Plan;
  • have used all of their 10 sessions in the calendar year; and
  • to undertake a review with their GP after their 10th session.

A factsheet about these additional MBS Mental Health Sessions is available here

NEW - CHO Public Health Direction Border Restrictions

Queensland Health is continuing to actively respond to the declared public health emergency in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19).

From 1.00am on Saturday 8 August 2020, all of New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) will become COVID-19 hotspots. The Queensland border will be closed to anyone who has been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days.

To enforce this, the following changes will come into effect under the COVID-19 Hotspots and Border Restrictions Direction (No.11) and up-to-date information is now available online.

COVID-19 HOTSPOTS

All of the State of New South Wales, including all 128 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and unincorporated areas, and the Australian Capital Territory will be declared as COVID-19 hotspots.

The State of Victoria will remain as a hotspot—view the full list of active hotspots for people travelling into Queensland here. 

People who have been in a hotspot in the last 14 days will only be able to enter Queensland if they are a returning Queensland resident or required to enter for a limited range of essential reasons.

Queensland residents returning to Queensland from a hotspot must quarantine for 14 days on entering Queensland, in government arranged accommodation and at their own expense unless exceptional circumstances apply. 

BORDER RESTRICTIONS ORDER (NO.11)

The following changes to Queensland’s border regulations will come into effect:

  • A person is only allowed to enter Queensland from a hotspot by air, unless they are part of a border community, transporting freight, an emergency worker attending an emergency or a person allowed to enter by road to perform a limited range of essential activities.
  • Queensland and NSW residents in the border zone can travel freely within the border zone only. New South Wales Border Zone residents who are construction workers can travel beyond the border zone in Queensland to work.
  • A person is no longer allowed entry if they have:
    • transited through a hotspot by road and did not leave their vehicle while in the hotspot
    • driven/taken a taxi/rideshare from outside the hotspot to an airport in a hotspot to fly to Queensland.
  • All unaccompanied minors will now need an exemption from the Chief Health Officer to enter Queensland.
  • A minor or person requiring regular care/support due to health needs will no longer be automatically allowed to quarantine at home with a parent or carer. They will be required to quarantine in a hotel with their parent or carer, unless an exemption is granted.
  • Consular officials will be asked to consent to quarantine in a hotel accommodation for two weeks.
  • A specialist worker who is critical to continuity of services or infrastructure critical to Queensland, must now have their status approved by the Chief Health Officer to enter Queensland. 

Further information about the Queensland border restrictions, including questions and answers, can be found on the Queensland Health website.

Please update telephone on-hold messages and triage processes as appropriate.
See Guidance material here.

NEW – RACF restrictions lifted

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young has re-opened Residential Aged Care Facilities in southeast Queensland to visitors, with the exception of Pinjarra Hills RACF, which will stay closed for another day and a half. It comes almost two weeks after RACFs were locked down following two confirmed cases of COVID-19 (in travellers returning to Queensland from Melbourne) in the region.

Accreditation to remain suspended until further notice

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has advised that accreditation for general practices and healthcare organisations will remain suspended until further notice. While the Commission will undertake further consultation and planning regarding the recommencement of assessments, no date for assessments to re-commence has been set.

The Commission’s announcement follows its review of the options considered to date in light of the rapidly changing situation in Victoria, and increasingly uncertain situation in New South Wales and Queensland.

For further information, please visit the relevant Commission webpages:

NEW – Influenza numbers down in Queensland

COVID-19 restrictions (hand hygiene, physical distancing etc.) are having a positive impact on the state’s influenza cases. So far this year (2020 YTD) 5918 cases of influenza have been recorded compared with 14,266 (5 year YTD mean, 2015 – 2019). To see Queensland’s weekly influenza surveillance report, click here.

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affecting Health Care practitioners in the Darling Downs and West Moreton Regions: