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COVID-19: GP Alert (11 November 2021)

November 11, 2021

NEW – Three new cases in Queensland

Of today’s three new cases:
  • One is a 32-year-old man who lives on the Gold Coast (Pacific Pines) and was potentially infectious in the community for six days. His source of infection is unknown. He has had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and is currently in hospital. His household contacts have so far tested negative.
  • One case was detected in Warwick and was potentially infectious in the community for ten days. This case is linked with the Moree cluster, identifies as First Nations and is not vaccinated.
  • The third case was detected in hotel quarantine following recent travel from Melbourne. This person is fully vaccinated.

All residents in the impacted areas are reminded to:

NEW - Vaccination requirements extended to other healthcare facilities and providers

From 7:30pm AEST, 10 November 2021, the Workers in a healthcare setting (COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements) Direction came into effect.

The Direction gives effect to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s (AHPPC) recommendation for mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all workers in healthcare settings as a condition of work, and requires COVID-19 vaccination for workers in in-home aged care and disability support services.

The Direction:

  • requires any worker in healthcare who enters, provides services or works in a healthcare setting (with limited exceptions) to have received the prescribed number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by 15 December 2021, and to provide evidence of each dose to their employer and the healthcare setting as soon as practicable after receiving it
  • defines a worker in healthcare broadly, including both healthcare professionals and others providing administration, support and other services in a healthcare setting
  • defines a healthcare setting broadly
  • provides limited exceptions to the vaccination requirements:
    • medical contraindication – there are very limited medical contraindications. Where this applies the responsible person for the healthcare setting must assess the risks and determine whether the unvaccinated person may continue to work, using PPE and undertaking daily PCR testing before each shift
    • in response to an emergency – for example, an unvaccinated contractor may enter a private hospital to fix malfunctioning medical equipment required for critical patient care can enter but must use PPE, and must notify the healthcare setting of the emergency entry and their vaccination status
    • to respond to a critical workforce shortage – unvaccinated employees may be permitted to work by the responsible person for the healthcare setting, based on a risk assessment, and for a short period (such as 3 months). This is to allow recruitment of vaccinated staff or to make alternative arrangements to respond to the critical workforce shortage. During this period, any unvaccinated staff are required to use PPE and provide a negative PCR test result before each work shift (daily).
  • does not override existing mandatory vaccination requirements and exceptions for Queensland Health and Hospital and Health Service (HHS) employees in other public health directions and the Health Employment Directive 12/21 (the HED). A Queensland Health or HHS employee will still need to be vaccinated in the timeframes set out in the HED, and with the same arrangements for exceptions. Unvaccinated Queensland Health employees are not to work in roles that have direct patient contact
  • does not override or extend the timeframes for the existing mandatory vaccination requirements and exceptions for workers in residential aged care facilities, where the requirements in the Residential Aged Care Facilities Direction apply to the person
  • recognises the existing vaccination requirements and dates in current directions for students undertaking a placement in a hospital, residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service
  • allows an unvaccinated worker in healthcare to enter and remain in a healthcare setting in their personal or private capacity – for example as a visitor, as a parent or guardian, or to receive care as a patient or client
  • requires records to be retained in relation to vaccination status of workers, and to confirm that evidence has been sighted for medical contraindications and negative COVID-19 test results required by unvaccinated workers before each shift in a healthcare setting.

More information about Queensland’s Public Health Directions can be found on the Queensland Health website.

NEW – Public health and social measures linked to vaccination status

Please print this resource for your GPs and patients to encourage vaccine uptake.

Public health and social measures linked to vaccination status

NEW – Clinical guidance document for medical exemptions

A Clinical Guidance document has been developed to assist medical practitioners with COVID-19 vaccination medical exemption assessments. This document was endorsed by the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinical and Technical Advisory Group (CTAG).

The document provides the clinical reasons why an individual may not be able to receive a vaccine but does not stipulate settings where such an exemption will be permissible. The document does not consider social or religious exemptions.

Despite a medical exemption being granted, employers or a relevant authority may not accept such exemptions, as vaccination status can be subject to Queensland Public Health Directions, Health Employment Directives (HED 12/21) or HR policies (B70) or other local rules.

This guidance is available online.

More information can be found here.

LGAs upgraded to 'moderate risk' category

As of 4pm, 4 November 2021, the following LGAs were determined by the Chief Health Officer to be in the 'moderate risk' category for the purposes of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) use:
  • Goondiwindi Region
  • Balonne Shire

As well as the following border towns in the Southern Downs LGA:

  • Glenlyon
  • Mingoola
  • Wallangara
  • Springdale
  • Wyberba
  • Ballandeen
  • Applethorpe
  • Stanthorpe
  • Pikedale
  • Glen Aplin
  • Severnlea
  • Broadwater

All other LGAs remain 'low risk'. Click here for more information.

UPDATED – Provider guide to COVID-19 vaccination of people with immunocompromise

The provider guide to COVID-19 vaccination of people with immunocompromise has been updated to include clarification that people with severe immunocompromise who receive a third dose as part of their primary COVID-19 vaccination course are not recommended to receive any further doses.

Cases of pertussis in Toowoomba

In the past week, Darling Downs Health have followed up four cases of Pertussis in two different schools in Toowoomba. All children have been age appropriate vaccinated and only 1 has reported a “whoop” like cough.

Please see the current CDNA guidelines for management of suspected or confirmed pertussis.