Infection control

The APA is working hard to keep these FAQs current and reflective of the rapidly evolving advice.

If you reside in an area currently in Stage 3 or Stage 4 Restrictions, please see the following page for tailored information.

If you do come across FAQs that require attention please email Advocacy Team

For the latest information, you can also follow up on Facebook @AustralianPhysiotherapyAssociation.

Updated 3 August 2020

Symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia. Some people will recover easily, and others may get very sick very quickly. People with coronavirus may experience:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • sore throat
  • tiredness
  • shortness of breath

Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and keeping your distance from others when you are sick is the best defence against most viruses. You should:

  • wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
  • cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people)
  • you must stay at home if you are unwell
  • exercise personal responsibility for social distancing measures.

The APA endorses the federal government’s request for Australians to download the new COVIDSafe tracing app, which will help protect our communities, especially front line health workers, the elderly and immunocompromised. As such, we encourage members to ask patients as a part of the screening process whether they have downloaded the application.

We recommend that individual practices should implement a suitable plan to manage staff that minimises risk of infection. This will vary from practice to practice. Up to date information for healthcare workers is available here.

As of 11 March 2020, the Department of Health has released the following information sheets to assist with this:

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has also released Infection Prevention and Control Guidelines which can be accessed at: here.

The Department of Health has also released guidance around symptom monitoring. This also provides some examples questions that may be of use in screening questionnaires.

It is reasonable to screen any patients or staff on the basis of known coronavirus infection criteria including physical symptoms and travel overseas.

On the basis of this information, you may request a patient delay attendance for 14 days or, until no longer symptomatic. For further information, we recommend reviewing the guidelines found in the AHPRA Code of Conduct for Registered Health Practitioners Section 2.4, page 4.

Please see the Department of Health Fact Sheet for information with dealing suspected coronavirus cases.

As per advice on the Department of Health website on 20 March 2020, if you have come in close contact with a confirmed case, you will need to isolate for 14 days. Let your employer know if you need to self-isolate. Depending on the type of work you do and if you are well, your employer may discuss other arrangements such as work from home. For further information, please refer to the Department of Health factsheet.

You can still go to work if you have:

  • had casual contact with COVID-19 cases and are well
  • directly cared for confirmed cases while using PPE properly

Monitor yourself for symptoms and self-isolate if you become unwell.

Please check the Department’s website for any relevant updates on this.

 

The APA have developed resources to support our membership in managing infection control and prevention.

We will advise members as new resources become available.

The Commonwealth Department of Health has also developed two posters and these can be found at the links below:

For reopening,there are two other posters available from Department of Health website. These are available below:

Other posters can also be found on state and territory Department of Health websites.

 

The Department of Health has published new guidance on the use of face masks and shields by healthcare workers in areas with significant community transmission of COVID--19.
The guideline can be found on the Department of Health website.

Other guidance on PPE for healthcare workers has also been published or updated (31 July) including:

  • Fact sheet on COVID-19 face shields
  • Guidance on the use of PPE in hospitals
  • Guidance on the use of PPE in non-inpatient healthcare settings

These and other publications on PPE can be found in the collection of COVID-19 resources for health professionals on the Department of Health website.

For guidance on how to access PPE from the Department of Health, please see the Department of Health’s website and factsheet.

For more information on how to use PPE, please see Department of Health video.

NSW: 

Current advice from the NSW government is an encouragement to wear masks if 1.5m distancing cannot be maintained.  We would like to speak more strongly to that as follows:

With the tightening of advice around the use of PPE in NSW, the APA  strongly encourages members to act with caution and urges private practitioners to consider using a mask at all times when treating patients, even where 1.5m distance can be maintained.  As already stated, healthcare workers employed by NSW Health must wear PPE at all times.

VIC:

Refer for most up-to-date FAQ 

The Department of Health has recently made an Infection Control Training Module, “How to protect yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID-19" available online. Please click here to register.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare also provides Infection Prevention and Control eLearning Modules and an online module on Hand Hygiene.

The Department of Health has provided this symptom checker to assist in answering questions about your symptoms.

The Department of Health has developed a checklist for client facing services. Please see the following link for further information.