There are now 83 cases linked to the New South Wales, Avalon cluster that emerged last week. Victorians are strongly advised not to travel to Sydney as conditions are expected to deteriorate and they may not be able to re-enter without undertaking hotel quarantine.
Clinicians should be asking patients if they are from or if they have been in New South Wales and if so, to check the areas of risk defined by the NSW Government and recommended actions.
Please see below for information on Victorian border crossing permits, staff and patient screening and PPE advice.
Victorian border crossing permit
Thankfully, border residents do not need permits to cross the border in either direction - they simply need to show their drivers licence. The local government areas (LGA) that are exempt from needing a permit include: Campaspe, Gannawarra, Indigo, Mildura, Moira, Swan Hill, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga.
Additional information on the NSW outbreak, quarantine and testing requirements for returned travelers:
From 11:59pm last night, Sunday, 20 December 2020, the Greater Sydney area and the Central Coast has been designated as a 'red zone.' That means that people who live in these communities, or have visited these communities since 11 December 2020, cannot enter Victoria. Anyone from this zone found trying to enter Victoria in breach of this order will be subject to 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.
Victorians who have recently visited or are currently in the Greater Sydney area and Central Coast, other than those in the Northern Beaches area, will be given until 11:59pm tonight, Monday 21 December to return home.
Those returning must register for an exemption on the Service Victoria website and then get tested within 24 hours of returning to the state. They must then self-quarantine for 14 days at home. Follow up checks with be undertaken.
The Northern Beaches area has also been elevated to a 'hot zone.' Victorians in the Northern Beaches area remain subject to the NSW's Chief Health Officer's stay at home orders and will not be permitted to return to Victoria.
The rest of regional New South Wales remains a green zone, but residents in these areas will still need to apply for and receive a valid permit to enter Victoria.
Click here for the latest COVID-19 case locations and alerts in NSW.
For more details on the Victorian Border Crossing Permit, including other exempt LGAs click here. For answers to frequently asked questions click here.
Staff and patient screening
The Department of Health and Human Services has advised that health services must ensure that all current screening processes include the ability to screen patients and healthcare workers who have lived in or visited the Greater Sydney Area or the Central Coast in the last 14 days (since 11 December), and provide advice as it applies to where which zone they come from: red, amber or green.
Regional testing updates:
Passengers to regional airports in Mildura and Swan Hill have been met by DHHS staff and/or testing teams since Friday. From Sunday it has been mandatory for travelers to answer questions regarding which zone they are returning from. Fitted face masks are now mandatory when in airport terminals and strongly recommended on flights.
Mildura and Wondonga respiratory clinics have been granted temporary permission to undertake asymptomatic testing along border regions.
For a list of local testing clinics in the Murray PHN region click here and for more on the assessment and testing criteria for COVID-19 click here.
The Public Health Unit, DHHS has categorised the Greater Sydney Area and the Central Coast of New South Wales as an area of higher risk for COVID-19 transmission.
In line with current Public Health advice, any patient who presents at a health service with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and has lived in or visited the Greater Sydney Area or the Central Coast in the last 14 days, should be treated as a high-risk suspected COVID-19 patient.
For further information on current DHHS PPE requirements and a full clinical definition of high-risk suspected coronavirus patients click here.
Eligible general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, allied health services and community pharmacies can order PPE from Murray PHN here.