Greg Hunt announces new measures to reduce health care workers being infected with COVID – over 3,300 workers infected

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Recognition that Australia’s frontline workers are at most risk of contracting the virus.

In a joint release with Dr Omar Khorshid, the new President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Federal Health Minister has announced the Government is implementing three new measures to help provide more protection to healthcare workers:

  1. A new partnership between the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG) and the National COVID-19 Evidence Taskforce led by the Living Guidelines Consortium to review the latest evidence on infection prevention and control and provide guidelines on specific infection control issues that have emerged during the pandemic.
  2. The expansion of national surveillance of healthcare worker infection to collect information on the type of healthcare workers who are becoming infected and allow the States and Territories to target their investigations and interventions based on national data.
  3. A new network of epidemiologists – which Mr Hunt called “disease detectives” – who will be available on request by state and territory public health units to assist investigating healthcare worker outbreaks and gather and analyse data on healthcare worker infection at a national level.

“It is important healthcare facilities continue to review their controls and strengthen these to ensure workers are better protected,” the Minister said.

“The Australian government continues to support hospitals in their efforts to protect their workers from COVID-19. This includes the provision of vital personal protective equipment, drawn from the National Medical Stockpile.”

The announcements came as Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth labelled the 3,300-plus coronavirus infections that have been recorded among healthcare workers – mostly in Victoria – as “unacceptable” and said all Governments needed to work together to improve infection control practices.

With many of these infections among aged care staff, we assume the measures will also extend into the sector.