Department of Health updates definition of a COVID-19 outbreak in aged care to a single confirmed case

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Major news longer-term for aged care homes that have a resident or staff member test positive in the future.

The Department has confirmed with us that the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) National Guidelines for Public Health Units for COVID-19 have changed the definition of an outbreak to be a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in a resident, staff member or frequent attendee of a high-risk setting – including aged care homes.

Under the previous guidelines, an outbreak in an aged care home was determined by the ‘two in three’ rule i.e. if two people in three days become sick with the symptoms and at least one of these has a positive test for COVID-19, that is considered an outbreak.

The implication of this change is significant.

One case is ‘an outbreak’ which activates a wide range of response mechanisms for aged care operators – and will impact their business for months.

The change brings the country into line with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) which has already been treating single confirmed or suspected cases as outbreaks in an effort to prevent a repeat of the larger outbreak seen at Anglicare’s Newmarch House.

You can download the updated guidelines here.


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