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Friday 20 March 2020

 

This eNewsletter covers Federal and State policy and legislative developments in the area of health. Copies of documents referred to can be obtained by clicking on the reference in this Newsletter or through Capital Monitor's collection at www.capitalmonitor.com.au or from the source quoted.


Major Announcements


Aged Care

19 March

Fact sheet for senior Australians to stop the spread and save lives
A comprehensive fact sheet is now available for senior Australians as the campaign to stop the spread of COVID-19 continues. Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said the online guide was a one-stop-shop at a time when clear advice has never been more important. 'Senior Australians and their loved ones must have access to updated information to ensure they can protect themselves, whether they're living at home, with family or in care,' Mr Colbeck said. 'We know the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases with age. Unfortunately, the highest rate of fatalities is among older people, particularly those with a weakened immune system.'
Download

Essential foundations of a successful new aged care visitor restrictions regime
Some aged care providers are using the new restrictions for visitors to residential aged care facilities as an excuse for unacceptable restraint on the rights of residents and families to be treated with compassion and respect said the Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, the peak body for older Australians. The new guidelines, approved by the National Cabinet and announced by the Prime Minister, have been welcomed by COTA as clear and sensible guidelines for care providers and families. COTA Australia is now calling on all providers to ensure they apply the guidelines in a manner that both ensures safety and is also sensible, compassionate respectful and proportionate for each resident and family.
Download

No need to stockpile medicines says MA Chief
Medicines Australia CEO Elizabeth de Somer has echoed calls by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, for Australians to stop stockpiling medicine during the ongoing COVID pandemic. 'It is imperative, as an industry and as a nation, for us to employ every public health strategy and commit every effort to focus on COVID19 and help to protect and treat the community,' said Ms de Somer. 'Those living in the community with health conditions and illnesses must - like the elderly - be our focus. Ensuring they continue to receive their medicines and the care they need on a daily basis has our utmost attention'.
Download

18 March

International students ready to fill critical staff shortages in aged care
Aged care providers will temporarily be able to offer more hours to international students to ensure the care of senior and vulnerable Australians, as part of the campaign to combat the impact of coronavirus. Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said international students would help fill critical staff shortages emerging in the sector. Minister Colbeck said COVID-19 affects older Australians more than others and this is putting a huge strain on many aged care providers and workers.
Download

Strengthened guidelines to protect aged care residents
Aged care facilities around Australia are now required to restrict visitation as the Government continues to combat the spread of coronavirus. Visits should be limited to two people per resident at one time each day, restricted to rooms, outdoor or specific areas designated by providers. Children should not visit aged care centres at all. Large group visits or gatherings, including social activities or entertainment should also be ruled out until further notice. Minister Colbeck said the tough measures were the best way of protecting older and vulnerable Australians in care.
Download

ANMF calls for immediate stop on all non-essential visits to nursing homes
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), is calling for a temporary ban on all non-essential visits to chronically understaffed nursing homes, in a concerted, community led effort to shield vulnerable older Australians from the COVID-19 global pandemic. ANMF Acting Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp, said to properly protect nursing home residents, the Government must provide clear and consistent messages to avoid confusion amongst already worried residents and their loved ones. 'This Government is completely out of touch with the reality that currently exists in nursing homes,' Ms Sharp said.
Download

LASA welcomes national aged care rules to protect older Australians and save lives
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, endorses restrictions on visitors and stronger COVID-19 protection protocols. 'Taking strong measures to protect older Australians is critical to saving lives, in the face of the escalating COVID-19 threat,' said LASA CEO Sean Rooney. 'The aged care sector has been raising its defences since early February and scores of residential care homes have proactively put in place measures to protect residents and the staff that care for them.'
Download

National Seniors supports aged care restrictions
National Seniors Australia supports the restrictions on staff health and social visits throughout Australia's aged care facilities in response to the spread of Coronavirus or COVID-19. The peak consumer group for older Australians says the new restrictions are timely, measured and sensible for our most vulnerable. National Seniors Chief Executive Officer, Professor John McCallum said: 'We are all being asked to do our bit and if every Australian is conscious of minimising the risk to older Australians then we will see this through with limited consequences.'
Download

COVID-19: Advice for carers
COVID-19, also known as the Corona Virus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, said Carers Australia. This means that the virus has spread all over the world, including Australia. Carers are in a particularly vulnerable situation as they and the people they care for are generally more susceptible to infection and the logistics of day to day life are already hard. In recognition of this, as part of its recent stimulus package, from 31 March 2020 carers who are receiving the Carer Payment will receive a one-off payment of $750, as will those receiving the Disability Support Pension and the Age Pension.
Download

Online care platform steps up to support most vulnerable during COVID-19
Amid all the uncertainty and unrest, society has a particular responsibility to consider how it can best support 3.8 million older Australians and those living with disabilities or mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. As individuals increasingly self isolate, Careseekers is expecting to see a rise in issues that come with isolation - depression, loneliness and not to mention an increase in the anxiety people are already experiencing with this pandemic. Self isolation also presents logistical challenges around doing tasks in the community, such as getting to the shops to buy basic necessities.
Download

16 March

COVID-19 prevention guidelines issued to Aged Care providers
Residential aged care providers will be encouraged to limit visits under national guidelines aimed at the prevention and control of coronavirus. Minister Colbeck said the advice from the Communicable Disease Network of Australia issued to aged care facilities around Australia outlines the precautionary measures for residents, staff and their families as the Government continues to implement strategies to contain the virus. It includes the recommendation that family and friends limit visits to residential care centres, particularly for residents already suffering from chronic illness.
Download

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Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

18 March

Royal Commission Into Aged Care Quality & Safety
19 MAR: Transcript of Proceedings - Adelaide - Day 79
Download

Response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Counsel Assisting's Submission on Workforce
Palliative Care Australia welcomes the release of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Counsel Assisting's Submission on Workforce (Counsel's Submission) and the opportunity to submit a response to the Counsel's Submission. In particular, PCA would like to provide comment on four recommendations made in the Counsel's Submission - recommendations 3, 5, 7, and 8.
Download

17 March

FECCA launches resource encouraging CALD seniors to share ideas for improvement with the Aged Care Royal Commission
The Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia (FECCA) has released information in simple English and 21 languages to help older people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds to tell the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety how they think aged care could be better. FECCA has been working closely with community engagement staff from the Royal Commission to encourage older CALD Australians to share their experience of aged care services. The Royal Commission announced last year that they would accept submissions in languages other than English. However, only 5% of submissions received have related to CALD issues.
Download

16 March

Royal Commission Into Aged Care Quality & Safety
16 MAR: Transcript of Proceedings - Canberra - Day 78
Download

13 March

Public access to Royal Commission hearings and workshops
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has taken the precautionary step of not permitting the public to attend hearings and workshops until further notice due to the risk to public health from the coronavirus (COVID-19). The proceedings of the Royal Commission will continue to be public through the live webcast available from the Commission's website. The Royal Commissioners want to ensure robust measures are in place to protect the public, particularly frail older people, who may be at risk of contracting the virus at public events like hearings.
Download

Royal Commission Into Aged Care Quality & Safety
13 MAR: Adelaide Workshop 2 - Witness List and Expected Order of Witnesses - 16-17 March 2020
Download

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Allied Health

None this edition.

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Children's Health

13 March

Child malnutrition and pneumonia research wins Harry Christian Giese Award
The 2019 Winner is Dr Nicholas Fancourt, a paediatrician with degrees in medicine and bioethics, whose PhD in Health Systems was achieved while an International Fulbright Science and Technology Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, said the Menzies Research Centre. In Timor-Leste, 722 kilometres from Darwin, child malnutrition is among the highest in the world. Dr Fancourt leads a team that aims to improve outcomes for children hospitalised not only for malnutrition, but also for pneumonia. The research project Pulmao Saudavel (Healthy Lung) is identifying different features of pneumonia between children who are malnourished and those who aren't.
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Clinical Governance

19 March

We say: No more preventable deaths
The Australian Human Rights Commission (ARHC) said the Close the Gap Campaign has warned that only systemic reform will make up for the harrowing failure of the last 12 years of government policy on closing the gaps in health equity, social and economic disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The 2020 Close the Gap Campaign report, again written by the Lowitja Institute sets out a blueprint for change, presenting 14 recommendations for Australian governments that must be urgently implemented to avoid further preventable deaths and protect Indigenous health, wellbeing, culture and Country.
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Construction and Health Infrastructure

None this edition.

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Coronavirus

19 March

Limits on dispensing and sales of medicines
Minister for Health Greg Hunt
said medicine supplies in Australia are strong however demand for medicines has increased markedly over the past two weeks, resulting in some community pharmacies and wholesalers reporting temporary strain on the supply of some medicines. 'This has led to challenges for many Australians seeking to purchase their ordinary and usual medicines in some areas' said Mr Hunt. 'As a result of this, the Government, Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia are now requiring community pharmacists to enforce new limits on dispensing and sales of prescription and over-the-counter medicines'.
Download

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities must be protected from COVID-19 pandemic
On this Close the Gap Day, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said the Government's health contingency plans for the COVID-19 pandemic must extend to First Nations communities. ' First Nations people and communities are particularly vulnerable to the potential impacts of COVID-19 due to remoteness, pre-existing chronic health conditions, already-stretched health services and housing that is often overcrowded or not fit for purpose' said the ANMF. 'A Taskforce, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, with representatives from Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations has been convened'.
Download

SNAICC calls for early intervention measures against covid-19 for children and families on national close the gap day
The Secretariat of National Aboriginal & Islander Child Care (SNAICC) said 'as we mark National Close the Gap Day in the midst of the escalating COVID-19 virus, we are reminded of the vulnerability of many in our communities, particularly our children and our elderly'. SNAICC urges the Government to communicate clearly and decisively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities about what they need to do to stay safe.
Download

MA welcomes the Government's actions to ensure continued access to medicines
Medicines Australia
CEO Elizabeth de Somer has welcomed the announcement by the deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly introducing limits on dispensing certain prescription medicines and other pharmaceutical products such as Ventolin and children's Panadol to address unnecessary panic purchasing at community pharmacies. Medicines Australia CEO, Ms Elizabeth de Somer said: 'It's important to stress that there are no shortages of medicines and no need to stock up with more than your usual supply of medicines'.
Download

No need to stockpile medicines says MA Chief
Medicines Australia CEO Elizabeth de Somer has echoed calls by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, for Australians to stop stockpiling medicine during the ongoing COVID pandemic. 'It is imperative, as an industry and as a nation, for us to employ every public health strategy and commit every effort to focus on COVID19 and help to protect and treat the community,' said Ms de Somer. 'Those living in the community with health conditions and illnesses must - like the elderly - be our focus. Ensuring they continue to receive their medicines and the care they need on a daily basis has our utmost attention'.
Download

1800RESPECT will continue to operate during the COVID-19 health emergency
Medibank said it's critical during periods of social distancing that those impacted by domestic and family violence know that support is available. '1800RESPECT will continue to operate as per usual during the COVID-19 health emergency, and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week' said Medibank. 'Domestic violence is about control and abuse. For those in an unsafe situation, any social isolation that may come as a result of COVID-19 could increase the risk of violence and abuse. It's critical during periods of social distancing that those impacted by domestic and family violence know that support is available'.
Download

Close the Gap Day and COVID19
COVID-19 has the potential to cause severe harm to First Nations communities particularly in regional and remote areas, older Australians, disabled people and people with mental health issues. 'Preventing and slowing the spread of the virus to First Nations communities must be a priority given that First Nations communities already suffer higher rates of chronic and respiratory illness than the general population,' Spokesperson on First Nations issues Senator Rachel Siewert said. 'We have a narrow window of opportunity to prevent the spread of the virus in First Nations remote communities'.
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Covid-19 response from Disability Reform Council 'appalling': Steele-John
Australian Greens disability spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John has described the COAG Disability Reform Council's (DRC) response to COVID-19 as appalling Senator Steele-John has called on the DRC to act with more urgency, and provide more clarity about the impacts COVID-19 will have on disabled people, our families and support networks. 'The meeting was an opportunity for the DRC to show that they are listening to the disability community and take urgent action. They've failed to do either; their response has been too slow and frankly, does not respond appropriately to the urgent needs of our community,' Mr Steele-John said.
Download

ACT: Fourth confirmed case of COVID-19
The ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman, has provided an update on the fourth confirmed case of COVID-19 in the ACT. The individual is a female in her 20s. She recently returned from overseas where it is believe she has been exposed to the novel coronavirus. She has complied with self-quarantining directions for travellers returning from overseas and is now isolating with ACT Health support. A small number of household close contacts have been identified and contacted. There are also a number of travel close contacts which the department are working to identify.
Download

NSW: NSW COVID-19 response headquarters
Experts from across the New South Wales Government have been brought together under one roof to lead the State's coordinated, emergency response to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Experts from more than 20 critical agencies including Police, Education and Transport will join NSW Health in the purpose-built operations centre at the Rural Fire Services headquarters in Homebush. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the State Emergency Operations Centre (SEOC) would allow all arms of government to respond quickly to COVID-19. 'Having all of our experts across many government agencies under the one roof will allow us to respond quickly to this emerging health crisis in a coordinated way,' Ms Berejiklian said.
Download

NT: Restricting visitor hours at RDH
The NT Department of Health said Royal Darwin and Palmerston Hospitals are restricting visiting hours from Friday 20 March to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to patients. At this stage there is only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Territory. Executive Director of Medical Services, Dr Charles Pain, said the Territory was in the fortunate position of having very low prevalence of COVID-19 cases and was putting in place the best possible preparations to minimise the impact of the virus in the NT. Elective surgery category 2 and 3 have been postponed, elective surgery for category 1 continues.
Download

VIC: Extra funding boost for health system COVID-19 response
Victoria's health system is getting a massive $437 million boost from the Government to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of the $100 million elective surgery blitz announced on Sunday. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced the boost, which includes new beds, additional equipment, funding for EDs and ICUs, additional resourcing for pandemic containment activities and support for workforce continuity throughout the pandemic. More than $80 million will be invested in bringing more beds online over the next 12 weeks, in time for the peak of the pandemic.
Download

WA: Dedicated pathway for WA Health staff needing to be tested for coronavirus
Western Australia's Minister for Health Roger Cook said all staff working in Western Australia's public healthcare system will be supported by a new COVID-19 screening and testing pathway, with the opening of a dedicated staff call centre. 'WA Health staff experiencing COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, or those who suspect they may have been exposed to COVID-19, will be asked to call a dedicated freecall number where they will be screened against a set clinical criteria' said Mr Cook.
Download

WA: New Directions to protect remote Aboriginal communities from COVID-19
Western Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Wyatt said the WA Government has released a set of binding Directions to help protect the health and wellbeing of people living in remote Aboriginal communities in response to COVID-19. 'The State of Emergency declaration provides special powers for the WA Police Commissioner and the Chief Health Officer to ensure the safety and security of all Western Australians. The Directions will be supported by the development of Remote Community Pandemic Plans which will be developed in partnership with community leaders' said Mr Wyatt. 'This is part of the State's pandemic response plan'.
Download

18 March

Update on Coronavirus measures
The focus for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments is the health and wellbeing of Australians and their livelihoods, ensuring that Australia is positioned to emerge strong and resilient from this global pandemic crisis, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Leaders met for the second National Cabinet meeting and agreed to further actions to protect the Australian community from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). As part of their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, the National Cabinet has accepted further restrictions on gatherings. The National Cabinet has accepted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice that non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday 18 March 2020.
Download

Strengthened guidelines to protect aged care residents
Aged care facilities around Australia are now required to restrict visitation as the Government continues to combat the spread of coronavirus. Visits should be limited to two people per resident at one time each day, restricted to rooms, outdoor or specific areas designated by providers. Children should not visit aged care centres at all. Large group visits or gatherings, including social activities or entertainment should also be ruled out until further notice. Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Senator Richard Colbeck said the tough measures were the best way of protecting older and vulnerable Australians in care.
Download

COVID-19 community sport guidelines issued to national sporting organisations
The Australian Government has announced new community sport guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19. This follows ongoing consultation with sporting organisations and is focused on providing relevant advice on change room access, physical contact, travel, and social distancing and hygiene practices. These guidelines were developed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), comprising all state and territory Chief Health Officers and is chaired by the Australian Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, said Minister Colbeck.
Download

Coronavirus Update No. 7
The focus for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments is the health and wellbeing of Australians and their livelihoods, ensuring that Australia is positioned to emerge strong and resilient from this global pandemic crisis. said Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ben Morton. While there have been some temporary, localised food and grocery distribution delays, there are sufficient stocks in Australia. The National Cabinet urged Australians to continue to adhere to the health guidance on hygiene and personal social distancing, including avoiding any non-essential travel.
Download

Prime Minister's Exemption - COVID-19 related measures
Due to truly urgent and unforeseen events related to the spread of COVID-19, the Prime Minister has granted an exemption from the need to complete regulatory impact analysis in the form of Regulation Impact Statements (RISs) for all Government measures made in response to COVID-19. Consistent with the Government's RIS requirements, post-implementation reviews must be completed within two years of implementation for all measures that receive a Prime Minister's exemption, where they have a more than minor regulatory impact. The post-implementation reviews now required will be articulated on the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's website.
Download

Pharmacies under pressure as COVID-19 surges
'The Guild is well aware of the immense pressure pharmacies and staff are enduring as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, and I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can in our dialogue with governments and health authorities to make them aware of the strain on our network,' said President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) George Tambassis. 'We know supply lines are under immense strain too, as panic buying and consumer anxieties have raised the issue of stockpiling and caused wholesalers to consider measures to cap orders and extend delivery waiting times.'
Download

ANMF calls for immediate stop on all non-essential visits to nursing homes
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), is calling for a temporary ban on all non-essential visits to chronically understaffed nursing homes, in a concerted, community-led effort to shield vulnerable older Australians from the COVID-19 global pandemic. ANMF Acting Federal Secretary, Lori-Anne Sharp, said to properly protect nursing home residents, the Government must provide clear and consistent messages to avoid confusion amongst already worried residents and their loved ones. 'This Government is completely out of touch with the reality that currently exists in nursing homes,' Ms Sharp said.
Download

Responding to COVID-19: Joint statement from Disability Sector Unions and Service Provider Peak
National Disability Services (NDS) and the Australian Services Union (ASU), the Health Services Union (HSU) and the United Workers Union (UWU) have come together to develop principles and processes to support the disability sector and its workforce during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This pandemic is a once in a generation event. They acknowledge the scale of the challenge for everyone, including the Government in this rapidly developing situation. The position the organisations have come to is based upon the best information they have to date and may change as new information becomes available.
Download

COVID-19: How to look after your mental health and wellbeing
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently acknowledged the importance of supporting each other through potential mental health challenges at this time, said Medibank:
- Look after yourself and be supportive to others; don't be afraid to ask for support if you need it.
- Minimise watching, reading or listening to news that contributes to feel anxious or distressed.
- Recognise caretakers and healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19.
- Take care of your general health; try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, find ways to exercise even in confined spaces, avoid alcohol and drugs and get plenty of sleep.
- Take care of your mind; try stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, progressive relaxation and mindfulness.
Download

Time to muster all health resources to quell COVID-19
Australia is entering its gravest health crisis in a century and must confront the challenge with all the 21st century knowledge and resources it can muster, the Consumers Health Forum said. 'Essential for success in quelling the virus and community fear will be ensuring effective and accessible care and releasing prompt and authoritative information to guide the public,' the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum (CHF), Leanne Wells, said. 'However, as social distancing is generally encouraged and social isolation enforced for many, it is also important that the community has appropriate ways to safely access ongoing healthcare.'
Download

National Seniors supports aged care restrictions
National Seniors Australia supports the restrictions on staff health and social visits throughout Australia's aged care facilities in response to the spread of Coronavirus or COVID-19. The peak consumer group for older Australians says the new restrictions are timely, measured and sensible for our most vulnerable. National Seniors Chief Executive Officer, Professor John McCallum said: 'We are all being asked to do our bit and if every Australian is conscious of minimising the risk to older Australians then we will see this through with limited consequences.'
Download

LASA welcomes national aged care rules to protect older Australians and save lives
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, endorses restrictions on visitors and stronger COVID-19 protection protocols. 'Taking strong measures to protect older Australians is critical to saving lives, in the face of the escalating COVID-19 threat,' said LASA CEO Sean Rooney. 'The aged care sector has been raising its defences since early February and scores of residential care homes have proactively put in place measures to protect residents and the staff that care for them.'
Download

COVID-19: Advice for carers
COVID-19, also known as the Corona Virus has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, said Carers Australia. This means that the virus has spread all over the world, including Australia. Carers are in a particularly vulnerable situation as they and the people they care for are generally more susceptible to infection and the logistics of day to day life are already hard. In recognition of this, as part of its recent stimulus package, from 31 March 2020 carers who are receiving the Carer Payment will receive a one-off payment of $750, as will those receiving the Disability Support Pension and the Age Pension.
Download

Online care platform steps up to support most vulnerable during COVID-19
Amid all the uncertainty and unrest, society has a particular responsibility to consider how it can best support our 3.8 million older Australians and those living with disabilities or mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. As individuals increasingly self isolate, Careseekers is expecting to see a rise in issues that come with isolation - depression, loneliness and not to mention an increase in the anxiety people are already experiencing with this pandemic. Self isolation also presents logistical challenges around doing tasks in the community, such as getting to the shops to buy basic necessities.
Download

ACT: Update on third COVID-19 case in the ACT
The ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, has provided an update on the third confirmed case of COVID-19 in the ACT. The individual is a female in her 70s. She recently returned from overseas where we believe she has been exposed to the novel coronavirus. She is currently at home after being discharged from Canberra Hospital and is self-isolating at home with ACT Health support, said the ACT Health Directorate.
Download

NSW: Has moved to immediately ban non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 or more people
NSW Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said he has signed an Order under the emergency powers of the Public Health Act 2010 to protect its citizens in line with advice from health experts, as the number of diagnosed cases in the State increased to 267, including a fifth death related to COVID-19. 'Banning non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 or more people is a safety measure recommended by the National Cabinet,' Mr Hazzard said.
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NSW: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) - Our Response
WaterNSW is taking an informed, risk-based and balanced approach to the evolving COVID-19 scenario. Their actions and decisions are dictated by three core factors:
- To help ensure the wellbeing of our people
- To do what we can as an organisation to limit the spread of contamination of the virus
- To facilitate the continuation of our operations that are essential to the people of NSW
The arrangements they are implementing are precautionary and are based on the latest expert medical advice and directions to all NSW Government agencies, departments and State Owned Corporations.
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QLD: New laws to slow down the spread of COVID-19
The QLD Government has strengthened the powers of health and emergency officers in the response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Changes to the Public Health Act 2005 will give Queensland Health's Chief Health Officer and emergency officers more powers to contain the outbreak of COVID-19. Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Steven Miles said the Public Health and Other Legislation (Public Health Emergency) Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced in Parliament to amend the Public Health Act 2005 and was expected to pass. 'These laws give us greater powers to enforce measures that will assist in slowing down the outbreak of COVID-19,' Mr Miles said.
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QLD: Three new 'panthers' join Queensland's COVID fight
Queensland Minister Miles told Parliament the QLD Government had bought three new testing machines known as 'Panthers' to bolster the states testing capability. Mr Miles said the machines are just like their namesake - fast and intelligent. These new machines will be based at Toowoomba, the Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton Hospital laboratories, adding to the four Panthers bought earlier this year for the GCUH, Cairns, Townsville and Central Laboratories. 'Queensland's laboratory testing is among the best in the world, and we're continuing to lead the way,' Mr Miles said.
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SA: Stronger powers to enforce COVID-19 self isolation
SA Health and SAPOL are working together to ensure South Australians are protected amid the threat of coronavirus. A strong legal Direction has been issued by SA Health requiring people coming to Australia to comply with self-isolation. South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said that South Australians can be assured that the Government is rolling out a clear and strong plan to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said these measures are part of the SA Government's strong plan to protect and prepare South Australia from the impact of COVID-19.
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VIC: More restrictions put in place in the fight against COVID-19
Indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people will be banned under changes made to the State of Emergency by the Victorian Government and restrictions will be placed on aged care facilities in Victoria, following agreement by the National Cabinet. The new measures are in addition to the banning of mass outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people and the 14-day isolation of travellers coming to Australia that are already in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said: 'The National Cabinet is united in doing everything we can to slow the spread of this virus and protect the lives of Australians.'
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WA: First regional COVID clinic established at Bunbury Health Campus
The first regional COVID clinic will open at Bunbury Health Campus on March 19 to test and support people at risk of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The clinic will operate from 10am-4pm, seven days a week and will be operated by clinicians and support staff who will follow strict infection prevention controls. Located within an existing building at the health facility, the clinic has been established to provide support to those in the South-West who meet the clinical criteria and require testing, said Western Australian Minister for Health Roger Cook.
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17 March

Recommendations to Government in response to COVID19 health crisis'
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has written to the Prime Minister with recommendations on the COVID19 response to support people who are most vulnerable at this time. 'We are deeply saddened by the loss of life already suffered and understand the community's grave concerns about health and incomes,' ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said. 'We must work together as a community to deal with the health crisis in a way that supports people in the greatest need. Our recommendations to government go to better supporting people on low incomes, older people, people with disability and First Nations communities.'
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A little relief will go a long way for thousands struggling due to COVID-19
Wide spread disruption caused by COVID-19 is being felt across Australia. It won't be long before we have thousands of people trying to survive on a reduced income, worried about whether they can pay their rent or their mortgage, while keeping the lights on and food on the table, said ACOSS. More than 30 community service organisations around the country are calling on companies providing essential services such as energy, water, finance, rental housing and telecommunications to take additional steps to support their community during the COVID- 19 crisis, said Brotherhood of St Laurence.
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AMA Federal Council - COVID-19 Communique
Recognising that Australian Governments, advised by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), have been working to respond to the escalation of COVID-19 in Australia, and that many announced measures, particularly expanded use of medical telehealth services, are yet to be fully optimised, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) believes the next stage of responding to COVID-19 requires strong medical leadership. Consistent, succinct and contemporaneous communication across all media from a single trusted source must be provided. The public has been receiving conflicting and inaccurate information about when they need to be tested, and how they should approach testing, and what comprises effective prevention and mitigation strategies.
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Professional Support for Medical Students during COVID-19 Pandemic
Medical students who are drafted into the medical workforce during the COVID-19 response must be provided with the same protections and entitlements as doctors and other frontline response staff, the Australian Medical Students' Association (AMSA) said. 'AMSA is primarily concerned about the welfare and safety of Australia's 17,000 medical students,' AMSA President, Daniel Zou, said. 'During this pandemic response, it is paramount that appropriate precautions are taken to protect the health of medical students, and to ensure that they are working within their scope of practice.'
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ETU Guiding Principles in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)-related employment issues
The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that COVID-19 is a pandemic. As at 16 March 2020, there were 299 confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), including 5 deaths, in Australia. Coronavirus spreads from person to person via droplets of infected fluid. These are passed on through direct hand-to-hand contact, contact with contaminated surfaces, or when someone standing close to an infected person breathes in droplets that have been coughed or sneezed into the air. This is similar to the seasonal flu. Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU) members are strongly encouraged to implement the recommendations at work and at home to assist in preventing the spread of coronavirus.
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Telehealth expansion welcomed, but still falls short
Labor welcomes the Government's expansion of Medicare approved telehealth services to include midwives, new specialist services, and for eligible populations to access services at their regular clinic, not just with their regular doctor. But the announcement does not go as far as it should to ensure we are protecting health professionals while still delivering health services to all Australians, said Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen. The Government must expand telehealth appointments to be available for all Australians during this crisis. 'We must be encouraging and incentivising anyone who is able to have their physical and mental health issues to be treated remotely and immediately to do so,' Shadow Minister Bowen said.
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Indigenous Australians are particularly vulnerable - Here's what we can do
Indigenous Australians are disproportionately vulnerable to serious infection from COVID- 19 because of high rates of chronic illness, said Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney. In many instances, over-crowding in housing presents a further risk factor. Reports that people in remote communities are still being required to participate in Community Development Program group work, despite strict restrictions on movement, are particularly concerning. There is important work being done to protect Indigenous communities by both government and non-government organisations, but there are further measures which can be undertaken.
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Suspend CDP requirements to protect remote communities
Indigenous Australians, in particular, those in remote communities are at a disproportionately higher risk of serious infection from COVID-19, due to higher rates of chronic illness, said Shadow Minister Burney. It is now time for the Government to put the health and safety of remote communities first by suspending the Community Development Program mutual obligation requirements, as a safety precaution. At a time when travel to remote communities in the Northern Territory is being restricted, it is completely inconsistent to force people to participate in group activities. This isn't just about people who are ill or required to self-isolate, this is about limiting risk for the whole community, including those who are sick or older.
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Death figures mean Government must double intensive care beds
Leader of the Greens Adam Bandt and Health Spokesperson Richard Di Natale have called on the Government and National Cabinet to explain what actions are being taken to double the number of intensive care units and to secure adequate number of ventilators. 'Medical experts have warned that the number of intensive care beds need to at least double if we are to have a chance of managing the corona crisis. The Deputy Chief Medical Officer has flagged that Australia is facing up to 150,000 possible deaths in the worst case scenario. The Greens also want stronger leadership and greater clarity on the appropriate public health measures' said Mr Bandt.
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NSW: Health advice on school closures
The World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 a pandemic and the situation continues to evolve quickly with an increasing number of countries having sustained community transmission. The Department of Education has been planning and operating in accordance with its pandemic plan to support the safety and wellbeing of staff and students. They are working closely with NSW Health to ensure access to the latest advice on how to keep students, staff and community safe. They are following their guidance. They know that some have called for school closures, and the matter is triggering significant public debate.
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NSW: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) statistics
As at 11am on 16 March 2020, an additional 37 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed since our NSW Health's last update at 11am, March 15, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in NSW to 171. NSW Health is alerting passengers who were close contacts on certain flights to monitor for symptoms, and contact their GP, but call ahead first, or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 should they become unwell. Following confirmation of a case, NSW Health is asking that as a precaution, anyone who visited Oakvale Winery, Pokolbin NSW, between 4 March and 13 March 2020 should be alert for fever or respiratory symptoms for 14 days after their visit and practise social distancing.
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SA: Three new deputy Chief Public Health Officers appointed to strengthen SA Covid-19 response
Three new deputy Chief Public Health Officers have been appointed to support the work of the Chief Public Health Officer, Associate Professor Nicola Spurrier, in leading South Australia's response to the coronavirus pandemic. South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the three appointments were part of the State Government's strong and clear plan to protect and prepare South Australia for the impacts of coronavirus. South Australian Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said that the government is determined to ensure that SA Health has everything it needs to get ahead of this virus.
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TAS: Public Health Emergency for Tasmania declared
The Director of Public Health has declared a Public Health Emergency for Tasmania to help manage the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, said the Tasmanian Department of Health. This declaration provides the Director with emergency powers. These include directives to require a person to quarantine or isolate, require a person to undergo a clinical assessment, ban entry of people to an area or remove people from an area, and take any action required to manage the threat coronavirus poses to public health. With the spread of coronavirus increasing internationally and many imported cases into Australia including Tasmania, additional powers are needed.
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TAS: Without action to tackle COVID-19, stimulus plan will become recovery plan
The Tasmanian State Government must act more decisively to confront the biggest threat to Tasmania's economy as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Tasmanian State Opposition Leader Rebecca White said no stimulus package will protect the state unless it is delivered in tandem with the strongest possible measures to halt the spread of the virus. 'As an island, we have a window of opportunity to protect the community by taking decisive, rapid action to strengthen protection at borders, including requiring people entering Tasmania to self-isolate for 14 days. We also need to reduce mass gatherings and support affected people to self-isolate,' she said.
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WA: COVID-19 caution for remote communities
Western Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Wyatt urged residents in remote communities to follow health advice to protect against the potential health impacts of COVID-19, stressing the importance of residents not travelling between remote communities and not gathering in large numbers for funerals or other purposes. While there has yet to be any confirmed cases outside the Perth metropolitan area, infiltration of the virus beyond the city to regional centres and more remote parts of the State is a distinct possibility. Mr Wyatt emphasised that residents in remote communities should remain vigilant, and pay close attention to the advice of their health providers, especially people with pre-existing conditions.
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16 March

Coronavirus measures endorsed by the national cabinet
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a significant step-up to Australia's national response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has been endorsed by the National Cabinet, comprising the Prime Minister, State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers. 'Based on the advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the National Cabinet agreed that our core objective now is to slow the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia by taking additional steps to reduce community transmission' said Mr Morrison. 'We must ensure our health system can care for the most vulnerable, in particular the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions'.
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Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit
The Government has created a new Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit in Treasury to build on existing efforts to support confidence, employment and business continuity. The role of the Unit is to engage with peak business groups on systemic issues relating to Coronavirus to ensure these are being addressed by Government. It is staffed by experienced officials drawn from agencies across the Australian Public Service and will work closely with the private sector. It is also a source of information for business groups on the Australian Government's response to Coronavirus and the actions that agencies are taking to support business at this difficult time.
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How to protect yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID- 19
The Department of Health said an online training module is available on infection control for care workers across all sectors in preparing for COVID-19.An Infection Control Training Module, 'How to protect yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID-19' is available online. Please register to participate. Providers are encouraged to consider and share the link with care workers across all sectors including health, aged care and disability. This training module covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19 including:
- COVID-19 - what is it?
- Signs and symptoms
- Keeping safe - protecting yourself and others
- Myth busting.
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TGA cautions against over-buying medicines
In response to COVID-19, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is aware that some pharmacists have been over-ordering medicines, while many consumers have been over-buying. 'This has resulted in some temporary local level out-of-stock situations, which we expect will resolve soon. It is important to understand that a local out-of-stock is not a national medicine shortage' said the TGA. 'Medicine shortages often stem from the manufacturer not being able to meet projected consumer demand for a period of time. Local out-of-stocks are usually caused by a sudden and unexpected increase in demand at a local level'.
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Federal Government needs to be clear on strategies to prevent spread of COVID-19
The country's largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), representing over 280,000 members, says the Government must send clear and consistent messages to the community in order to contain the rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and ease growing anxiety, confusion and concern about this public health emergency. ANMF members (nurses, midwives and carers) are working around the clock caring for their patients and protecting the community. Nurses working in primary care are reporting countless patients have numerous questions and concerns and virtually no knowledge about COVID-19 or how to protect themselves, said the ANMF.
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Additional ABS products to help measure the economic impact of the coronavirus
The economic implications of the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, are highly uncertain. In these circumstances, there are sizeable benefits for the community and governments to have access to information about the economic responses of individuals and businesses that is as up-to-date as possible. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has considered what additional, more up-to-date information it can provide, over and above the existing statistical releases, to enhance understanding of the economic impacts of the coronavirus.
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AGPA calls for extension of Telehealth
The Australian GP Alliance (AGPA) congratulates the Government on its decision to introduce Telehealth consultations for Australians who are classified as 'at risk of COVID19'. Supporting all high risk groups to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 by reducing time in waiting rooms, and public areas is welcomed. AGPA notes that the ability to consult via Telehealth is limited to a Doctor who has held a consultation with the person in the last 12 months. 'This is too restrictive and unhelpful. If significant numbers of Doctors are unable to attend their practices because of COVID-19 self-isolation, or for other reasons, then the benefit of this innovation will be eroded' said the AGPA.
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ACT: Public Health Emergency declared for ACT
The ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith has declared a Public Health Emergency in response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation across Australia. A declaration of a Public Health Emergency allows the Chief Health Officer to take any action, or give any direction, considered to be necessary to protect Canberrans and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the ACT. This is the first time a Public Health Emergency has been declared in the ACT. It is one of the best signals we can provide to the community to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
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ACT: Second confirmed case of COVID-19
The ACT Health Directorate said Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman, is advising that a second case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in the ACT. The individual is a male in his 30s and is currently well. He is working closely with ACT Health and following the strict home isolation advice. A positive test result was confirmed on 15 March 2020. ACT Health is under-taking appropriate public health action, working with other state health authorities, to understand further details of the individual's possible source of exposure and to follow up with close contacts as a priority. This work is being conducted in line with national guidelines.
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ACT: Update on second COVID-19 case in the ACT
The ACT Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerryn Coleman, has provided an update on the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in the ACT. The individual is a male in his 30s and is currently well. He is working closely with ACT Directorate of Health and following the strict home isolation advice. Following investigations by ACT Health, it is now believed the individual was exposed to the virus at a private event in NSW. ACT Health is continuing to take appropriate public health action in line with national guidelines.
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NSW: NSW lowers age limit for pharmacy flu jabs
Families will have more access to influenza vaccinations with the NSW Government lowering the age pharmacists can administer flu jabs to children from 16 years to 10 years. New South Wales Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said giving families more options to protect their children against flu is sensible, with the likely convergence of a COVID-19 pandemic with winter flu. 'Last year was the longest flu season on record and in 2017 more than 650 people in NSW died from flu-related conditions, and now we have COVID-19,' Mr Hazzard said.
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NSW: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) statistics
An additional 37 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed since the last update at 11am, March 15, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in NSW to 171. NSW Health is alerting passengers who were close contacts on the following flights to monitor for symptoms, and contact their GP, but call ahead first, or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 should they become unwell. Following confirmation of a case, NSW Health is asking that as a precaution, anyone who visited Oakvale Winery, Pokolbin NSW, between 4 March and 13 March 2020 should be alert for fever or respiratory symptoms for 14 days after their visit and practise social distancing.
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QLD: Queensland first to make emergency declarations in January
Queensland was the first to declare a public health emergency on January 29, 2020 in response to the global outbreak of coronavirus, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said. The Premier said the government strengthened the legislation when the parliament passed the Public Health (Declared Public Health Emergencies) Amendment Bill 2020 on February 6. 'Queensland acted early and strengthened the laws because public safety is paramount,' the Premier said. 'We have so far limited the spread of the virus and that's because Queenslanders have been taking public health advice seriously'.
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QLD: Queensland novel coronavirus (COVID-19) update
Seven new cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in Queensland. This takes the state total to 68 which includes 3 passengers from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship. Coast Public Health Unit after being confirmed with COVID-19. Queensland Health can confirm all cases remain isolated in appropriate accommodation to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing is still underway for these new cases. Queensland Health will notify the community if any other public health alerts are required. Queensland Health is urging anyone who has been overseas in the last 14 days and has a fever or any respiratory symptoms to see a doctor immediately.
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VIC: State of emergency declared in Victoria over COVID-19
A State of Emergency has been declared in Victoria to combat COVID-19 and help to provide the Chief Health Officer with the powers he needs to enforce 14-day isolation requirements for all travellers entering Australia and cancel mass gatherings of more than 500 people, as agreed by National Cabinet. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced that the State of Emergency would begin on Monday, 16 March at midday and be in force for the next four weeks to assist with measures designed to 'flatten the curve' of COVID-19 and give the health system the best chance of managing the virus.
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15 March

TAS: Urgent public health action needed
Labor is demanding greater action to ensure lives are saved and that Tasmania's health system is not overwhelmed in response to the threat of coronavirus (COVID-19). Tasmanian Labor Leader Rebecca White, said all levels of Government must make it their main priority to stop people getting sick and limit the transmission of COVID-19. 'The Labor party is prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Government to keep the impacts of COVID-19 to a minimum - this includes support for greater social distancing efforts and further restrictions of mass gatherings,' Ms White said.
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VIC: COVID-19 capacity boost as elective surgery blitz starts
New hospital beds will be opened to manage COVID-19 patients, and more than 7,000 Victorians will be fast-tracked for elective surgery in the next few weeks, in the next step of Victoria's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced that the new $100 million COVID-19 response package is designed to boost capacity in the health system in preparation for the pandemic peak. More than $60 million will be made available to both public and private hospitals to undertake additional surgery such as thyroid, prostate, hernia or gynaecological surgeries.
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VIC: More COVID-19 cases confirmed in Victoria
The Victorian Department of Health said eight new cases of Coronavirus (COVIDĀ]19) were confirmed on 14 March 2020, bringing the total number of cases in Victoria to 57. The new cases include six men and two women with ages ranging from their teens to 60s. One is a student - a known contact of case 17, a teacher from Carey Grammar. The student was not at school during their infectious period. The school will remain closed until the holidays. And, as a precaution, 12 classmates will home-isolate. All cases are recovering at home in isolation.
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13 March

Advice on Coronavirus
Based on the expert medical advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have agreed to provide public advice against holding non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday 16th March 2020, said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. A new National Cabinet, made up of the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers has been set up and will meet at least weekly to address the country's response to the coronavirus, COVID-19, said Minister for Health Greg Hunt. The AHPPC, led by the Commonwealth's Chief Medical Officer and comprising the chief health and medical officers from each jurisdiction, together with the National Coordination Mechanism convened by the Department of Home Affairs, will be the primary bodies that will advise the National Cabinet, said Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy.
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TGA response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
The information has been updated to include 'GMP information for sponsors and manufacturers'. As part of the TGA is providing active support for monitoring a number of issues relating to therapeutic goods including medicines and medical devices in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As of 6 March 2020, the TGA has not received any notifications of medicine shortages in Australia that are a direct result of COVID-19. Therefore, while it may be appropriate for individuals to ensure that they have at least two weeks supply of prescription medicines in the unlikely event they are quarantined, any stockpiling of medicines is unnecessary.
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AMA declares Coronavirus (COVID-19) a national public health emergency
Australian Medical Association (AMA) President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that the AMA Federal Council has declared the coronavirus outbreak a national public health emergency. Dr Bartone said the AMA calls on all Australian governments to act urgently on all public health measures to prevent community transmission of Covid-19. 'The Covid-19 outbreak is a national public health emergency,' Dr Bartone said. 'We need to get ahead of the curve - and this must start with the immediate banning of mass gatherings and ensuring that frontline medical and health workers are provided with the best possible information and equipment to protect the health of Australians. '
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Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) coronavirus (COVID-19) statement on 13 March 2020
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) notes emerging evidence of community transmission in localised areas within Australia, current issues limiting the capacity to do widespread COVID-19 diagnostic tests and emerging international evidence that, for best effect, social distancing measures are best introduced at the earliest stages of community transmission. AHPPC considers that, for these reasons, the time has come to put in place social distancing measures to mitigate spread, rather than a strategy based primarily on case finding. These measures are of most importance for people over 60, particularly those with chronic disease.
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Information for people with cancer about COVID-19
People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, may be at increased risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) and increased risk of more severe infection. 'Our knowledge about COVID-19 is changing rapidly. If you are receiving cancer treatment that suppresses your immune system and you develop a fever or respiratory symptoms, call your oncologist or a member of your treatment team, as you usually would if you develop a fever while on treatment. Be sure to follow their guidance on actions to take,' said Professor Dorothy Keefe, CEO, Cancer Australia and Medical Oncologist.
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WA: COVID-19 testing tightened amid chemical shortage
The Western Australian Department of Health has tightened the testing criteria for Western Australians who suspect they may have COVID-19. This is due to a global shortage of the chemical reagent required for laboratory testing and follows deliberations at the Council of Australian Governments meeting. The move comes as PathWest was notified by its reagent supplier that due to the shortage, it could no longer meet PathWest's previously-assured order and that future supplies could also be in jeopardy.
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Dental

19 March

Australia's oral health is tracking in the wrong direction
The Australian Dental Association (ADA) said the increasing prevalence of tooth decay and gum disease among Australian adults are disturbing new trends in the nation's oral health. 'Australians adults are keeping their teeth for longer - but one in three of us is walking around with untreated tooth decay, while one in four has periodontal disease with gaping periodontal pockets 4mm or deeper' said the ADA. 'These are the alarming statistics reported in the Adult Oral Health Tracker (the Tracker) progress report, released for 2020 World Oral Health Day this Friday, March 20'.
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Disabilities

19 March

Urgent measures needed to support people with disability during COVID-19 crisis
People With Disability Australia (PWDA), Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) & the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA) said people with disability from across Australia are calling for urgent action to make sure we are included in preparations for the current public health emergency. Eight national peak organisations have come together to outline to all levels of government, the National Disability Insurance Agency, other agencies and the private sector, about the range of concerns that people with disability have.
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Covid-19 response from Disability Reform Council 'appalling': Steele-John
Australian Greens disability spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John has described the COAG Disability Reform Council's (DRC) response to COVID-19 as appalling Senator Steele-John has called on the DRC to act with more urgency, and provide more clarity about the impacts COVID-19 will have on disabled people, families and support networks. 'The meeting was an opportunity for the DRC to show that they are listening to the disability community and take urgent action. They've failed to do either; their response has been too slow and frankly, does not respond appropriately to the urgent needs of our community,' Mr Steele-John said.
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18 March

Responding to COVID-19: Joint statement from Disability Sector Unions and Service Provider Peak
National Disability Services (NDS) and the Australian Services Union (ASU), the Health Services Union (HSU) and the United Workers Union (UWU) have come together to develop principles and processes to support the disability sector and its workforce during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This pandemic is a once in a generation event. They acknowledge the scale of the challenge for everyone, including the Government in this rapidly developing situation. The position we have come to is based upon the best information we have to date and may change as new information becomes available. It is important these issues are managed appropriately.
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Online care platform steps up to support most vulnerable during COVID-19
Amid all the uncertainty and unrest, society has a particular responsibility to consider how it can best support our 3.8 million older Australians and those living with disabilities or mental health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. As individuals increasingly self isolate, Careseekers is expecting to see a rise in issues that come with isolation - depression, loneliness and not to mention an increase in the anxiety people are already experiencing with this pandemic. Self isolation also presents logistical challenges around doing tasks in the community, such as getting to the shops to buy basic necessities.
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13 March

2020 Disability Support Awards postponed
The National Disability Service (NDS) has taken action to postpone the 2020 Disability Support Awards. This difficult decision has been made in response to the developments in public health concerns and advice regarding COVID-19. The Western Australian Department of Health has indicated that there will be a higher risk of COVID-19 spreading through WA by late April or mid-May, when the Awards were originally scheduled. NDS State Manager Julie Waylen said 'NDS has made this decision to prioritise the health of people with disability and to support our members to prioritise their organisations' response to COVID-19 during this time.'
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Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

16 March

Disability Royal Commission & COVID-19 - Suspended
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect & Exploitation of People with Disability suspended upcoming public hearings & community forums due to concerns about spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. 'The Royal Commission has suspended upcoming public hearings and community forums due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. We will not have any public events for now. We will not hold public hearings, community meetings and private sessions for now. We are doing this to keep people safe, especially people with disability. We will not hold a public hearing in Brisbane in March' said the Commission. 'We will not hold a public hearing in Brisbane in April'.
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E-Health

None this edition.

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Education and Training

None this edition.

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Funding

19 March

VIC: Extra funding boost for health system COVID-19 response
Victoria's health system is getting a massive $437 million boost from the Government to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, on top of the $100 million elective surgery blitz announced on Sunday. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos announced the boost, which includes new beds, additional equipment, funding for EDs and ICUs, additional resourcing for pandemic containment activities and support for workforce continuity throughout the pandemic. More than $80 million will be invested in bringing more beds online over the next 12 weeks, in time for the peak of the pandemic.
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Health Professionals

19 March

WA: Dedicated pathway for WA Health staff needing to be tested for coronavirus
Western Australia's Minister for Health Roger Cook said all staff working in Western Australia's public healthcare system will be supported by a new COVID-19 screening and testing pathway, with the opening of a dedicated staff call centre. 'WA Health staff experiencing COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms, or those who suspect they may have been exposed to COVID-19, will be asked to call a dedicated freecall number where they will be screened against a set clinical criteria' said Mr Cook.
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17 March

TAS: State Premier leaves health workers in the dark
Tasmanian State Premier Peter Gutwein is leaving vital health care workers in the dark over what steps will be taken to ensure the health system is equipped to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Tasmanian Shadow Minister for Health Minister Sarah Lovell said the Tasmanian State Government's failure to answer clear questions on the provision of personal protection equipment for health workers and availability of ICU beds and ventilators is inexcusable.
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WA: New drive to boost medical workforce
The WA State Government has commenced a recruitment drive to bolster Western Australia's health workforce, said Western Australian Minister for Health Roger Cook. Advertisements will run in metropolitan and regional newspapers as well as industry publications calling for clinical staff to join the health system. This will be followed by a second wave of recruitment to attract other professions including allied health, patient support and critical hospital administration roles. The drive is part of a range of measures to enhance WA's preparedness for the expected increase in COVID-19 cases. Prospective staff are being offered immediate starts and flexible working hours.
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16 March

How to protect yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID- 19
The Department of Health said an online training module is available on infection control for care workers across all sectors in preparing for COVID-19.An Infection Control Training Module, 'How to protect yourself and the people you are caring for from infection with COVID-19' is available online. Please register to participate. Providers are encouraged to consider and share the link with care workers across all sectors including health, aged care and disability. This training module covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19 including:
- COVID-19 - what is it?
- Signs and symptoms
- Keeping safe - protecting yourself and others
- Myth busting.
Download

Federal Government needs to be clear on strategies to prevent spread of COVID-19
The country's largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), representing over 280,000 members, says the Government must send clear and consistent messages to the community in order to contain the rapid spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and ease growing anxiety, confusion and concern about this public health emergency. ANMF members (nurses, midwives and carers) are working around the clock caring for their patients and protecting the community. Nurses working in primary care are reporting countless patients have numerous questions and concerns and virtually no knowledge about COVID-19 or how to protect themselves, said the ANMF.
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13 March

Consider the whole picture when testing troponin levels
Given the sensitivity of modern troponin tests, health professionals should be alert to the potential for false positive results and the associated risk of unnecessary patient treatment, said the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA). Troponin testing is a key investigative tool for diagnosing and monitoring acute coronary syndrome, including myocardial infarction. Troponin levels are also used to investigate and monitor unstable angina, myocardium trauma post-surgery and other diseases with related cardiac muscle injury. Modern troponin tests are highly specific for cardiac forms of troponin and extremely sensitive to enhance early detection. While fewer cases of disease will be missed, there is a greater chance of false positive results.
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Planning vital when using patient handling slings
Patient handling slings are a vital resource to make patient transfers safer for both staff and patients, but processes must be adhered to, in order to maintain skin integrity and prevent injury. Patient handling sling use is the standard of care to transfer and transport dependent or immobile patients, (such as those with spinal cord injury), to and from their beds or wheelchairs, said the TGA. These mechanical lifting devices have been shown to prevent health worker injuries, e.g., back injuries, but no substantive literature demonstrates their safety with respect to skin integrity for at-risk patients.
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Surgical staplers: TGA reviews device incident reports
Health facilities and staff are reminded of the importance of following the Instructions for Use (IFU) for surgical staplers after the TGA reviewed Australian Device Incident Reports (DIRs) associated with the devices. The TGA reviewed the DIRs associated with 47 devices supplied by 13 Australian sponsors after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a letter to health care providers and a news alert about these devices. The FDA communications reminded providers to review labelling instructions and indications for use for surgical staplers and implantable staples, such as choosing the appropriate staple size for the patient's tissue type and thickness.
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Updated cleaning instructions for long-term nasogastric tubes
Changes to the cleaning instructions for long-term nasogastric tubes have been implemented following a TGA investigation into reports of leaking tubes and connector strap breakages. Health professionals are advised that a manufacturer, Medicina, has updated the Instructions for Use for its long-term nasogastric tubes to include a link to a detailed cleaning protocol found on the Global Enteral Device Supplier Association website. The cleaning instructions are more detailed than those found in the manufacturer's Instructions for Use and are an easy step-by-step guide for users to keep the devices' ENFit connectors clean.
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Hospitals

19 March

NT: Restricting visitor hours at RDH
The NT Department of Health said Royal Darwin and Palmerston Hospitals are restricting visiting hours from Friday 20 March to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to patients. At this stage there is only one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Territory. Executive Director of Medical Services, Dr Charles Pain, said the Territory was in the fortunate position of having very low prevalence of COVID-19 cases and was putting in place the best possible preparations to minimise the impact of the virus in the NT. Elective surgery category 2 and 3 have been postponed, elective surgery for category 1 continues.
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18 March

WA: First regional COVID clinic established at Bunbury Health Campus
The first regional COVID clinic will open at Bunbury Health Campus on March 19 to test and support people at risk of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The clinic will operate from 10am-4pm, seven days a week and will be operated by clinicians and support staff who will follow strict infection prevention controls. Located within an existing building at the health facility, the clinic has been established to provide support to those in the South-West who meet the clinical criteria and require testing, said Western Australian Minister for Health Roger Cook.
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Insurance

None this edition.

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Medicare

16 March

Private oncologists welcome subsidised telehealth for vulnerable patients
The nation's peak body of cancer doctors has applauded the Government for its swift and unprecedented move to offer bulk-billed telehealth appointments for certain groups of vulnerable Australians. The Private Cancer Physicians of Australia (PCPA) said the pace in which the Government has moved to apply Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items to telehealth GP and specialist appointments for patients, most at risk of the COVID-19 virus (or those self-isolating), was unprecedented. 'Like any patient with an underlying chronic health issues, cancer patients are particularly vulnerable during this pandemic,' said the President of the PCPA, Dr Christopher Steer.
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AGPA calls for extension of Telehealth
The Australian GP Alliance (AGPA) congratulates the Government on its decision to introduce Telehealth consultations for Australians who are classified as 'at risk of COVID19'. Supporting all high risk groups to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 by reducing time in waiting rooms, and public areas is welcomed. AGPA notes that the ability to consult via Telehealth is limited to a Doctor who has held a consultation with the person in the last 12 months. 'This is too restrictive and unhelpful. If significant numbers of Doctors are unable to attend their practices because of COVID-19 self-isolation, or for other reasons, then the benefit of this innovation will be eroded' said the AGPA.
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Men's Health

None this edition.

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Mental Health

18 March

COVID-19: How to look after your mental health and wellbeing
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently acknowledged the importance of supporting each other through potential mental health challenges at this time, said Medibank:
- Look after yourself and be supportive to others; don't be afraid to ask for support if you need it.
- Minimise watching, reading or listening to news that contributes to feel anxious or distressed.
- Recognise caretakers and healthcare workers supporting people affected with COVID-19.
- Take care of your general health; try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, find ways to exercise even in confined spaces, avoid alcohol and drugs and get plenty of sleep.
- Take care of your mind; try stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, progressive relaxation and mindfulness.
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Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System

None this edition.

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Pharmaceuticals

19 March

Limits on dispensing and sales of medicines
Minister for Health Greg Hunt
said medicine supplies in Australia are strong however demand for medicines has increased markedly over the past two weeks, resulting in some community pharmacies and wholesalers reporting temporary strain on the supply of some medicines. 'This has led to challenges for many Australians seeking to purchase their ordinary and usual medicines in some areas' said Mr Hunt. 'As a result of this, the Government, Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia are now requiring community pharmacists to enforce new limits on dispensing and sales of prescription and over-the-counter medicines'.
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Aggressive behaviour in pharmacies not tolerated
At this time of high demand and anxiety around all Australian community pharmacies, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) has urged the general public to respect the right of pharmacy staff to safety and courtesy. The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, said he was very disturbed to hear reports from many pharmacy owners and staff of hostile, aggressive and in some cases violent behaviour because of low stock or limits on sales in many pharmacies. 'We are calling on people to please show respect in their dealings with pharmacy staff, who are doing their best to cope in a confronting and at times frightening situation'.
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Dispensing limits will ensure fairness for patients
The PGA welcomed the sensible measures announced to curb stockpiling of essential medicines in the face of heightened demand caused by anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic. The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, urged all pharmacists across Australia to comply with the new restrictions in the interests of the national public health and quality use of medicines. 'These sensible and timely limits announced by the Government will apply to particular classes of medicines which must remain available for patients in need' Mr Tambassis said.
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Surgical masks available through PHN
The PGA said the Department of Health has made a limited supply of surgical masks available for pharmacy staff. Pharmacists can order masks through their local PHN:
- NQ PHN - hello@nqphn.com.au
- WQ PHN - admin@wqphn.com.au
- CQWBSCPHN - online form
- BSPHN - support@bsphn.org.au
- NBPHN - covid19@brisbanenorthphn.org.au
- GCPHN - communications@gcphn.com.au
- DDWMPHM - practicesupport@ddwmphn.com.au
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TGA suspends overseas GMP inspections and QMS audits until further notice
Consistent with the Government's latest travel restrictions, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has suspended all overseas GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) inspections and QMS (Quality Management System) audits until further notice. In addition to the TGA's commitment to ensuring that overseas manufacturers meet GMP and QMS requirements, the TGA are also mindful of the need to provide transparent information to sponsors affected by these delays. Sponsors immediately affected by the suspension to GMP inspections have been contacted and, where applicable, advised about maintaining the validity of their existing GMP clearances.
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No need to stockpile medicines says MA Chief
Medicines Australia CEO Elizabeth de Somer has echoed calls by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, for Australians to stop stockpiling medicine during the ongoing COVID pandemic. 'It is imperative, as an industry and as a nation, for us to employ every public health strategy and commit every effort to focus on COVID19 and help to protect and treat the community,' said Ms de Somer. 'Those living in the community with health conditions and illnesses must - like the elderly - be our focus. Ensuring they continue to receive their medicines and the care they need on a daily basis has our utmost attention'.
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MA welcomes the Government's actions to ensure continued access to medicines
Medicines Australia
CEO Elizabeth de Somer has welcomed the announcement by the deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly introducing limits on dispensing certain prescription medicines and other pharmaceutical products such as Ventolin and children's Panadol to address unnecessary panic purchasing at community pharmacies. Medicines Australia CEO, Ms Elizabeth de Somer said: 'It's important to stress that there are no shortages of medicines and no need to stock up with more than your usual supply of medicines'.
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18 March

Pharmacies under pressure as COVID-19 surges
'The Guild is well aware of the immense pressure pharmacies and staff are enduring as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, and I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can in our dialogue with governments and health authorities to make them aware of the strain on our network,' said President of the PGA George Tambassis. 'We know supply lines are under immense strain too, as panic buying and consumer anxieties have raised the issue of stockpiling and caused wholesalers to consider measures to cap orders and extend delivery waiting times.'
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17 March

Update on proposed clarification that certain sports supplements are therapeutic goods
A public consultation was held in late 2019 on a proposal to clarify that certain sports supplements are therapeutic goods, said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). After consideration of stakeholder submissions and feedback from two stakeholder workshops in February 2020, the proposal has been refined to clarify the intent of the reform and avoid unintentionally capturing food products (such as whey protein, sugar substitutes and meal replacement shakes). It is proposed that the draft declaration would be amended to remove the following criteria for products to be in scope of the declaration:
- containing substances in excess of the limits provided in Schedule 2918 and 29-19 of the Food Standards Code.
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16 March

TGA cautions against over-buying medicines
In response to COVID-19, the TGA is aware that some pharmacists have been over-ordering medicines, while many consumers have been over-buying. 'This has resulted in some temporary local level out-of-stock situations, which we expect will resolve in the soon. It is important to understand that a local out-of-stock is not a national medicine shortage' said the TGA. 'Medicine shortages often stem from the manufacturer not being able to meet projected consumer demand for a period of time. Local out-of-stocks are usually caused by a sudden and unexpected increase in demand at a local level'.
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NSW: NSW lowers age limit for pharmacy flu jabs
Families will have more access to influenza vaccinations with the NSW Government lowering the age pharmacists can administer flu jabs to children from 16 years to 10 years. New South Wales Minister for Health Brad Hazzard said giving families more options to protect their children against flu is sensible, with the likely convergence of a COVID-19 pandemic with winter flu. 'Last year was the longest flu season on record and in 2017 more than 650 people in NSW died from flu-related conditions, and now we have COVID-19,' Mr Hazzard said.
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13 March

2020 seasonal influenza vaccines
Influenza vaccines can change from year to year as new strains of influenza virus appear. This is one reason vaccination against influenza is given every year. The Australian Influenza Vaccine Committee (AIVC) has reviewed data related to epidemiology, antigenic and genetic characteristics of recent influenza isolates circulating in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, serological responses to previous year's vaccines, and the availability of candidate vaccines viruses and reagents. Based on this review and the World Health Organization's recommendation, the AIVC recommended the viral strains to be used for influenza vaccines in the 2020 southern hemisphere influenza season. The TGA has accepted the recommendations of AIVC.
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Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene incompatible with anaesthetic spray
Ethyl chloride spray should not be used in association with medical devices containing a common plastic. The TGA has been made aware of a chemical incompatibility between a common plastic used in some medical devices, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and ethyl chloride, a topical anaesthetic spray. ABS is a thermoplastic polymer that is widely used in cannulae and tubing. Ethyl chloride spray (also known as chloroethane or monochloroethane) is a skin refrigerant intended for topical application and acts as a mild topical anaesthetic through its chilling effect.
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Court proceedings commenced against Evolution Supplements Australia and its sole director for alleged advertising breaches
The Secretary of the TGA has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia (Court) against Evolution Supplements Australia Pty Ltd (trading as Evolution Supplements Australia) and Mr Cumhur Keskin, the sole director and secretary of the company, for alleged breaches of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act). Evolution Supplements Australia and Mr Keskin are alleged to have advertised therapeutic goods not entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), including therapeutic goods that Evolution Supplements claims, in advertisements the subject of the proceedings, contain substances included in Schedule 4 and/or Schedule 10 to the Poisons Standard.
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Dragon 'Wolverine' tablets
The TGA has tested a product labelled Dragon 'Wolverine' tablets and found that the tablets contain the undeclared substances sildenafil and chloramphenicol. Dragon 'Wolverine' tablets pose a serious risk to your health and should not be taken. Sildenafil is a prescription-only (S4) medicine in Australia. Chloramphenicol is a pharmacist-only (S3) antibiotic medicine for ophthalmic use only and a prescription-only medicine (S4) for any other use. The supply of Dragon 'Wolverine' tablets containing the undisclosed sildenafil and chloramphenicol is illegal. Dragon 'Wolverine' tablets have not been assessed by the TGA for quality, safety or efficacy as required under Australian legislation, and the place of manufacture is not approved by the TGA.
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Research

19 March

New technology helps in hunt for new cancer drug combinations
A joint Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Stanford University team used a technique called mass cytometry (also called CyTOF) to simultaneously analyse the levels of more than 20 different proteins in millions of individual blood cancer cells. This revealed how these cells responded to different anti-cancer medicines, even suggesting potential new treatment combinations. The research team hope that the new technique could be integrated into clinical trials both to understand why some patients are resistant to anti-cancer therapies, and to predict suitable 'biomarkers' for matching patients with the most effective therapies for their disease.
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16 March

Closing the gap needs more than refreshed targets
As long as the Closing the Gap policy remains a 'medical response to what is effectively a political problem' it will continue to fail in its aim of eliminating Indigenous health inequality, according to the authors of a Perspective published in the Medical Journal of Australia. An effective refreshing of Closing the Gap would require 'a radical reconfiguring of relationships of power between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that are necessary for achieving better health outcomes', wrote Associate Professor Chelsea Bond, a Principal Research Fellow within the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland, and Dr David Singh, a Research Fellow, also at UQ.
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Earlier cardiovascular screening needed for Indigenous adults
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults should undergo cardiovascular disease risk factor screening from the age of 18 years at the latest, according to the authors of a consensus statement published online by the Medical Journal of Australia. The statement represents the consensus advice of the organisations responsible for the three current sets of guidelines for CVD risk assessment and management for the Indigenous population -- the Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (incorporating the National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and the Editorial Committee for Remote Primary Health Care Manuals.
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New advice to help stop early heart attacks for Indigenous Australians
To combat high risk of heart attack and strokes, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should have had their heart checked by a GP by age 18 at the latest, according to new national recommendations. As part of a regular health check with a GP, the recommendations launched have moved the age Indigenous people should get screened for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) down from 35 to 18. Based on research from The Australian National University (ANU), a host of health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD experts have agreed on the latest efforts to continue closing the gap on early heart attacks among Indigenous Australians.
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13 March

Cancer Council funding for Garvan research
Four Garvan Institute of Medical Research scientists will pioneer world-leading research on breast, pancreatic and bone cancer, thanks to funding from Cancer Council NSW. The Garvan Institute of Medical Research congratulates Dr Michelle McDonald, Dr Joanna Achinger-Kawecka, Associate Professor Alex Swarbrick and Dr Omid Faridani, who have all received Cancer Council NSW funding to lead new projects in cancer research. Their projects are four of 14 grants awarded in NSW. Together, Garvan Institute researchers were awarded over $1.7 million in funding over three years.
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Child malnutrition and pneumonia research wins Harry Christian Giese Award
The 2019 Winner is Dr Nicholas Fancourt, a paediatrician with degrees in medicine and bioethics, whose PhD in Health Systems was achieved while an International Fulbright Science and Technology Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, said the Menzies Research Centre. In Timor-Leste, 722 kilometres from Darwin, child malnutrition is among the highest in the world. Dr Fancourt leads a team that aims to improve outcomes for children hospitalised not only for malnutrition, but also for pneumonia. The research project Pulmao Saudavel (Healthy Lung) is identifying different features of pneumonia between children who are malnourished and those who aren't.
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NHMRC Research Excellence Awards 2019
The annual National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Excellence Awards. The outstanding achievements of 13 of Australia's most talented health and medical researchers were celebrated in Canberra. Research Excellence Awards are awarded each year to top-ranked researchers and teams following peer review of applications to NHMRC's highly competitive grant schemes. These winners have all demonstrated exceptional achievement in their chosen research fields. 2019 was the first year of NHMRC's re-shaped funding program, designed to encourage innovative research and to strengthen support for high-performing researchers at every career stage.
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Rural, Regional and Remote Health

19 March

Urgent action to protect remote communities
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and Shadow Assistant Minister for Reconciliation Patrick Dodson said Labor supports urgent action required to protect Indigenous Australians living in remote communities. Indigenous Australians are disproportionately at risk of serious infection from COVID-19. 'This is due to high rates of chronic illnesses in our community. Indigenous Australians also have a lower capacity to isolate as a result of the prevalence of overcrowding' said Ms Burney. 'And many remote communities do not have proper and adequate access to clean water'.
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Close the Gap Day and COVID19
COVID-19 has the potential to cause severe harm to First Nations communities particularly in regional and remote areas, older Australians, disabled people and people with mental health issues. 'Preventing and slowing the spread of the virus to First Nations communities must be a priority given that First Nations communities already suffer higher rates of chronic and respiratory illness than the general population,' Spokesperson on First Nations issues Senator Rachel Siewert said. 'We have a narrow window of opportunity to prevent the spread of the virus in First Nations remote communities'.
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WA: New Directions to protect remote Aboriginal communities from COVID-19
Western Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Wyatt said the WA Government has released a set of binding Directions to help protect the health and wellbeing of people living in remote Aboriginal communities in response to COVID-19. 'The State of Emergency declaration provides special powers for the WA Police Commissioner and the Chief Health Officer to ensure the safety and security of all Western Australians. The Directions will be supported by the development of Remote Community Pandemic Plans which will be developed in partnership with community leaders' said Mr Wyatt. 'This is part of the State's pandemic response plan'.
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Women's Health

None this edition.

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Transcripts

Leader of the Australian Labor Party Anthony Albanese
20 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Rad Epstein, ABC Melbourne Drive
Subjects: Coronavirus, Economic implications, Reserve Bank announcement, Food supplies, International travel, Chief Medical Officer

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
19 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Paul Murray, Sky News
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Emergency management, Public health, School closures, Casual workforce, National Cabinet

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg
19 MAR: : Transcript of Press Conference, Canberra
Subjects: Coronavirus, Aged care, RBA, National Security Committee, Economic impact, International tourism, Medicines, Food supply, Small business support, Qantas, Employment

Australian Medical Association (AMA)
19 MAR: Transcript of President, Dr Tony Bartone, with David Koch, Sunrise
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Testing kits, Medical equipment availability, Mortality rate, Testing restrictions

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)
19 MAR: Speech by Governor, Philip Lowe, Sydney
Subjects: Jobs, Income, Businesses, Economy, Coronavirus, Public health, Financial markets, Financial regulators, Banks, Govt funding, Cash Rate

Leader of the Labor Party Anthony Albanese
19 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Jason Hawkins & Polly Harding, KIIS FM
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Emergency management, Social distancing, Public health

Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury Andrew Leigh
19 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Wendy Harmer, ABC Radio Sydney Breakfast
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, RBA, Fiscal policy, Economic stimulus, Public health, Welfare, Workforce support

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Peter Overton, Channel 9 News
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Food security, Supply, Availability of medical equipment, Public health

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Allison Langdon & Karl Stefanovic, The Today Show
Subjects: Coronavirus, Confirmed cases, Testing kits, Self-isolation, Vaccinations

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Natalie Barr, Sunrise
Subjects: Coronavirus update, Mass gatherings, Doctor's petition

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Sabra Lane, ABC AM
Subjects: Coronavirus, Test updates, Travel advice and border closures, New testing kits, Testing criteria, School closures, Mass gatherings

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Mick Molloy & Anthony Lehmann, Triple M Melbourne
Subjects: Coronavirus update, Food supplies, Caring for our vulnerable, COVID-19, Public health, Aged care

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Mick Molloy & Anthony Lehmann, Triple M Melbourne
Subjects: Coronavirus update, Food supplies, Caring for our vulnerable, COVID-19, Public health, Aged care

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Chris Kenny, The Kenny Report, Sky News
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Public health, Emergency management, Supply, Availability of medical equipment, Food security, Manufacturing

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Leon Byner, 5AA
Subjects: Food security, Supply lines, Coronavirus effects

Australian Medical Association (AMA)
18 MAR: Transcript of President, Dr Tony Bartone, with David Koch, Sunrise
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Testing kits, Medical equipment availability, Mortality rate, Testing restrictions

Australian Medical Association (AMA)
18 MAR: Transcript of Vice President, Dr Chris Zappala's Interview with Ashleigh Gillon, Sky News Live, Newsday
Subject: COVID-19, Health, School closures, Border closures, Testing kits, PPE shortages

Leader of the Labor Party Anthony Albanese and Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen
18 MAR: Transcript of Press Conference, Sydney
Subjects: Government's second stimulus package for COVID-19, Coronavirus, Airlines affected by coronavirus, Parliament sitting, Support for the work force during COVID-19 issue

Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen
18 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Patricia Karvelas, ABC News 24 Afternoon
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Emergency management, Public health, Large gatherings ban, School closures, ADF

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack
17 MAR: Transcript of Press Conference, Wagga Wagga
Subjects: Bridges Renewal Program, Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, Regional Australia, Bushfire recovery, Qantas's capacity cuts, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Crisis clinics

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
17 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Melbourne
Subjects: COVID-19 impacts, Telehealth, Vaccines, Masks, Test kits, Sports clubs cancelling games, Lockdowns, Aged care, Childcare, Schools, WHO recommendations, Medical supplies, Deaths

Minister for Health Greg Hunt
17 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Tracey Grimshaw, A Current Affair
Subjects: COVID-19, Coronavirus, School closures, Large gatherings ban, Emergency management, Public health

Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government Mark Coulton
17 MAR: Transcript of Speech at the official opening of the ICON Cancer Centre, Geelong
Subjects: New South Wales, Health, Nurses, Cancer Treatment, Cancer centre, Funding

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann
17 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Mural Hall
Subjects: Coronavirus, Economic & business support, Economic impact of coronavirus

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann
17 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Fran Kelly, ABC - Radio National Breakfast
Subjects: Coronavirus, Stimulus package, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Gatherings over 500 people, National Security Committee, Reserve Bank of Australia

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann
17 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Natalie Barr, Sunrise
Subjects: Coronavirus, Stimulus package, National Security Committee, Small business owner, Tourism industry, QANTAS

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham and Member for Moncrieff Angie Bell
17 MAR: Transcript of Press Conference, The Star, Gold Coast
Subjects: COVID-19 impacts on tourism industry, Local businesses, Jobs, QLD, Economy, Stimulus package, Airlines, Travel restrictions, Hotels

Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Maclean Coulton
17 MAR: Transcript of Speech at the official opening of the ICON Cancer Centre, Geelong
Subjects: New South Wales, Health, Nurses, Cancer Treatment, Cancer centre, Funding

Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly and Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese
17 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Bega
Subjects: Bushfire recovery grants, Bushfire-affected businesses, Coronavirus, Stimulus package, Airlines, Transport infrastructure, Parliament sitting week

Senator for Queensland Gerard Rennick and Shadow Minister for Northern Australia Murray Watt
17 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Annelise Nielson, Sky News
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Public health response, Public information campaign, Stimulus package, Tourism

Australian Medical Association (AMA)
17 MAR: Transcript of President, Dr Tony Bartone's Doorstop Interview with David Koch & Natalie Barr, Sunrise
Subjects: Coronavirus, School closures, Prime Minister, Medical professionals, Public health

Shadow Minister for Northern Australia Murray Watt
17 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Laurie Atlas, 4CC Gladstone
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Impact on airlines, NRL, Small businesses, Casual employment, Interest rates, Reserve Bank of Australia

Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy
17 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Catherine Graue, ABC Pacific Beat
Subjects: Coronavirus, Health funding, Pacific Step-Up policy, World Health Organisation's Regional Response Plan, New Zealand, Medical professionals

Shadow Minister for Government Services Bill Shorten and Senator for the Northern Territory Malarndirri McCarthy
17 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Darwin
Subjects: NDIS, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Self isolation, School closures, Casual employment, Auslan interpreters, Indigenous peoples, Diabetes, Dialysis, Stimulus package, Newstart

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Neil Mitchell, 3AW
Subjects: Coronavirus, Supermarket supply, Schools closing, Protective gear shortage, Treatments, Social distancing

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Karl Stefanovic & Allison Langdon, Today
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Travel bans, Large gatherings ban, Self isolation, State of emergency

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with David Koch & Samantha Armytage, Sunrise
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Travel restrictions, Self-isolation, Quarantine

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Alan Jones, 2GB
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Self isolation, Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Large gatherings ban, National Cabinet, Fuel prices

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Ernst and Young (EY)
16 MAR: Transcript of Press Conference, Riverina Oils
Subjects: Inland rail, Regional infrastructure, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Bushfire recovery, Stimulus package, Small businesses

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Allison Langdon & Karl Stefanovic, Channel 9, Today
Subjects: Economic stimulus, Tourism Stimulus Package, COVID-19, Coronavirus, Health policy, Self-isolation

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with John MacKenzie, 4CA
Subjects: Tourism, Self-isolation, Coronavirus, Health policy

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Adam Stephen, ABC Far North Drive
Subjects: Tourism sector, North QLD, Coronavirus, Health, Medical professionals, Hospital, Bushfires, Public health, China, Seafood sector

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham
16 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Cairns
Subjects: COVID-19, Health, Tourism, Stimulus package, Small businesses, Employment

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with David Koch, Sunrise\
Subjects: Coronavirus, Impact on the tourism industry, Health policy, Self-isolation

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Fran Kelly, ABC RN
Subjects: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Health policy, Panic buying, Tourism, Self-isolation

Leader of the Australian Labor Party Anthony Albanese
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Patricia Karvelas, ABC
Subjects: Coronavirus, Health care, Announcement of second stimulus package, Hospitals, Schools, Self-isolation

Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen
16 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Maryborough
Subjects: Coronavirus, Federal Govt health policy, Health care, Regional hospitals

Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party Richard Marles
16 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Melbourne
Subjects: Coronavirus, Isolation period, Public events, Health policy, Casual employees, Pensioners

Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Development Amanda Rishworth
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Annelise Nielsen, Sky News, AM Agenda
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Preparations within schools, National Cabinet, National health package

Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Resources Joel Fitzgibbon
16 MAR: Transcript of Interview with David Koch & Natalie Barr, Sunrise
Subjects: Coronavirus, Health, Schools, Cruise ships, Self-isolation

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Chief Medical Officer
15 MAR: Transcript of Press Conference, Sydney, NSW
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, National Cabinet, Health sector emergency response plan, Large gatherings ban, Travel bans, Self isolation

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg
15 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sunday Agenda, Sky News
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Economic package, National Cabinet, Remote teaching, Quarantine, Chief Medical Officer, Self-isolate, Surplus

Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen
15 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Sydney
Subjects: Remembering the victims of the Christchurch massacre, Coronavirus, Large gatherings ban, Public health, Australia-New Zealand relations, Travel restrictions

Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations Tony Burke and Shadow Minister for Health Chris Bowen
14 MAR: Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Sydney
Subjects: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Public health, Large gatherings ban, Minister for Home Affairs, Self-isolation of PM & Cabinet, Welfare

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann
13 MAR: Transcript of Interview with Laura Jayes, Sky News First Edition
Subjects: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Fiscal stimulus package, ASX fall, Travel restrictions, Budget surplus

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Reports

Letter to Aged Care Providers from the Chief Medical Officer - Update on Coronavirus outbreak & to outline Federal Govt's current & future support for central role they are playing in national response
Department of Health & Chief Medical Officer

To protect all Australians from the COVID-19, including vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the Government has announced a comprehensive $2.4 billion health package. This package includes:
- $100 million to fund a new Medicare telehealth service;
- $25 million for vulnerable people in the community, including those in self-isolation, to order and receive their PBS/RPBS medicines;
- $50.7 million to expand the 24/7 national hotline (1800 020 080) to help triage people with respiratory symptoms and those who are concerned about contact with a possible COVID-19 case.
Download

Australian Public Assessment Report for Doravirine & doravirine/lamivudine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Department of Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

This AusPAR describes the application by Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Ltd (the sponsor) to register the new chemical entity Pifeltro (doravirine) 100 mg film coated tablets for the following proposed indication: Pifeltro is indicated, in combination with other antiretroviral medicinal products, for the treatment of adults infected with HIV-1 without past or present evidence of viral resistance to doravirine.
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Changes to the Permissible Ingredients Determination
Department of Health, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

The Therapeutic Goods (Permissible Ingredients) Determination ('the Determination) is a legislative instrument made under section 26BB of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act). This instrument specifies all of the ingredients that are available for use in listed medicines and the requirements for their use. The Determination is continually reviewed by the TGA to ensure that all ingredients are safe for use in low-risk medicines. It is updated through the addition or removal of ingredients, and the clarification, removal or addition of restrictions or warning statements.
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Close the Gap 2020 Report - Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Lowitja Institute

Over the last twelve years, successive governments have failed to deliver the reforms needed to close the gap on health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. At the heart of this report is the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander empowerment as vital to wellbeing. The featured case studies have been selected to highlight Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-driven approaches to health policy and program reform across four domains of the cultural determinants.
Download

National Partnership on COVID-19 Response
Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

This National Partnership (the Agreement) is created subject to the provisions of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations (IGA FFR) and should be read in conjunction with that Agreement and its Schedules, which provide information in relation to performance reporting and payment arrangements under the IGA FFR. In entering this Agreement, the Commonwealth and the States and Territories (the States) recognise that they have a joint responsibility to act to protect the Australian community by ensuring that the health system can respond effectively to the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Download

NSW: Health impacts of exposure to poor levels of air quality resulting from bushfires and drought
NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS)

This is the NSW Council of Social Services (NCOSS) contribution to the inquiry into health impacts of exposure to poor levels of air quality resulting from bushfires and drought. This inquiry comes after the worst bushfire season for NSW on record, during which at least 5.3 million hectares (6.7% of the state) has been burnt as of 28 January 2020. The report states it is likely to be years before the full impact of the 2019-20 bushfires is understood and ongoing drought on the community, environment and economy.
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Hansards

Federal

12 MAR 2020: SENATE NOTICE PAPER: Questions on Notice - 1227 Senator Abetz: Minister for Health - With reference to the TGA, is it official position of Dept of Health that electronic cigarettes & heated tobacco products are just as bad

Queensland

18 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Bills - Public Health and Other Legislation (Public Health Emergency) Amendment Bill 2020 - Introduction, First Reading, Second Reading, Third Reading, Long Title

18 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus, Health Services

18 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Ministerial Statements - Coronavirus, Update

18 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus, Health Services

18 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Ministerial Statements - Coronavirus, Vaccine

18 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Redland Hospital, Intensive Care Unit

18 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus, Aged-Care Facilities

17 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus, Testing

17 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Adjournment - Coronavirus, Public Health Initiative

17 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Ministerial Statements - Coronavirus, Health Response

17 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus, Drive-Through Testing

17 MAR 2020: QLD ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus, Treatment

Tasmania

03 MAR 2020: TAS ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions - Royal Hobart Hospital - Practical Completion and Penalties

03 MAR 2020: TAS ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions - Royal Hobart Hospital - Practical Completion of Infrastructure Projects

Victoria

18 MAR 2020: VIC ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Members Statements - COVID-19

18 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Members Statements - COVID-19

18 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice and Ministers Statements - COVID-19

18 MAR 2020: VIC ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Members Statements - Medical Research

18 MAR 2020: VIC ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Members Statements - COVID-19

18 MAR 2020: VIC ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice & Ministers Statements - Ministers Statements: COVID-19

18 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice and Ministers Statements - COVID-19

18 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice and Ministers Statements - COVID-19

17 MAR 2020: VIC ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Announcements - COVID-19

17 MAR 2020: VIC ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Adjournment - COVID-19

17 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice and Ministers Statements - Ministers Statements: COVID-19

17 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Adjournment - COVID-19

17 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Members Statements - COVID-19

17 MAR 2020: VIC COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice and Ministers Statements - COVID-19

Western Australia

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Question on Notice 2762 - Answer Advice - Minister for Health - Agricultural Region Visit

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Committee - Western Australian Future Fund Amendment (Future Health Research and Innovation Fund) Bill 2019

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions on Notice - Minister for Health - Portfolios - Magenta Linas Software Pty Ltd

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Regional Health Campuses

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Health System Response - Recruitment

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions on Notice - Department of Health - Sewage Treatment

18 MAR 2020: WA ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Emergency Health Services Volunteers

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Disability Services

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Health System Response - Recruitment

18 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Regional Health Campuses

18 MAR 2020: WA ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Testing - Regional Areas

17 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Bills - Western Australian Future Fund Amendment (Future Health Research and Innovation Fund) Bill 2019 - Second Reading, Committee

17 MAR 2020: WA ASSEMBLY HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Testing - Regional Areas

17 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Self-Isolation

17 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Testing

17 MAR 2020: WA COUNCIL HANSARD: Questions Without Notice - Coronavirus - Remote Aboriginal Communities

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Court Cases

None this edition.

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New Regulations

Federal

Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Amendment (March Indexation) Principles 2020 - Section 96-1 - Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00277

The Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 (the Transitional Provisions Act), in conjunction with the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act), provides for the funding of aged care services that are providing care to continuing care recipients. Persons who are approved under the Act to provide aged care services (approved providers) can be eligible to receive subsidy payments under the Transitional Provisions Act in respect of the care they provide to continuing care recipients. Continuing care recipients are those who entered an aged care service before 1 July 2014 and since that time have not left the service for a continuous period of more than 28 days (other than because the person is on leave), or before moving to another service, have not made a written choice to be subject to new rules relating to fees and payments that came into effect on 1 July 2014.
Explanatory Statement

Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) (Subsidy and Other Measures) Amendment (March Indexation) Determination 2020 - Subsection 33(3) - Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00276

The purpose of the Amending Determination is to increase the amount of supplements payable to approved providers of aged care services in line with the changes to the consumer price index (CPI). Routine indexation of supplements in this determination is calculated through the use of a well-established formula based on the CPI as a measure of the movements in the non-labour costs of providers. The Amending Determination is a legislative instrument for the purposes of the Legislation Act 2003.
Explanatory Statement

Aged Care (Subsidy, Fees and Payments) Amendment (March Indexation) Determination 2020 - Subsection 33(3) - Aged Care Act 1997
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00275

The purpose of the Aged Care (Subsidy, Fees and Payments) Amendment (March Indexation) Determination 2020 (the Amending Determination) is to increase the amount of supplements payable to approved providers of aged care services in respect of a day from 20 March 2020 in line with the changes to the consumer price index (CPI), in addition to increasing the value of a number of caps and thresholds in line with the age pension. The Amending Determination applies only in respect of care recipients who are not continuing care recipients. Continuing care recipients are those who entered a care service before 1 July 2014 and since that time have not left the service for a continuous period of more than 28 days (other than because the person is on leave), or before moving to another service, have not made a written choice to be subject to the new rules relating to fees and payments that took effect on 1 July 2014. The amount of subsidy and supplements payable in respect of continuing care recipients is determined in the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) (Subsidy and Other Measures) Determination 2014.
Explanatory Statement

Private Health Insurance Legislation Amendment Rules (No. 2) 2020 - Section 333-20 - Private Health Insurance Act 2007
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00272

The purpose of the Amendment Rules is to make consequential amendments to the Benefit Requirement Rules and the Complying Product Rules to reflect indexation and adjustments applicable to Pension and Rent Assistance Rates from 20 March 2020. This is achieved by:
- amending Schedule 4 of the Benefit Requirements Rules (at clause 6, table 1) to change the minimum benefits payable by private health insurers per night for privately insured nursing-home type patients (NHTPs) accommodated in private hospitals nationally, or public hospitals in some jurisdictions.
- amending Section 8A of the Complying Product Rules to change the daily patient contribution payable by NHTPs towards the costs of their accommodation at private hospitals nationally, or at public hospitals in some jurisdictions.
Explanatory Statement

Biosecurity Repeal (Human Health Response Zones) Determination 2020 - Subsection 113(1) - Biosecurity Act 2015
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00270

The purpose of the Biosecurity Repeal (Human Health Response Zones) Determination 2020 (the Determination) is to repeal the three zones created for temporary quarantine of individuals who requested repatriation from Wuhan city, China, and the Diamond Princess cruise ship located at a Japanese port. The repatriated individuals have completed their quarantine, and are no longer in the zones. The zones are therefore no longer required by the Commonwealth for the purpose of preventing, or reducing the risk of 'human coronavirus with pandemic potential' (COVID-19), a listed human disease under the Act, emerging, establishing itself or spreading in Australian Territory Or A Part Of Australian Territory.
Explanatory Statement

Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - GP and Allied Health COVID-19 Services) Amendment Determination No. 3 2020
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00261

The purpose of the Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - GP and Allied Health COVID-19 Services) Amendment Determination No. 3 2020 (Amending Determination) is to amend the Principal Determination to list new Level A consultation services provided by GPs, other doctors in general practice, and nurse practitioners. These services are to be provided remotely (by telehealth or telephone).
Explanatory Statement

Health Insurance (General Medical Services - Specialist, Consultant Physician and Consultant Psychiatrist COVID-19 Telehealth Services) Amendment Determination No.2 2020
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00260

The purpose of the Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - Specialist, Consultant Physician and Consultant Psychiatry COVID-19 Telehealth Services) Amendment Determination No.2 2020 (the Amendment Determination) is to amend the Principal Determination to modify the descriptors for the consultant psychiatrist telehealth and phone service items (91828 to 91831 and 91838 to 91841) to clarify the timing of the attendance by replacing the words 'of more than' with 'at least' in subclause (c). The Amendment Determination will also amend the Principal Determination to add new obstetric antenatal and postnatal services telehealth and phone service items.
Explanatory Statement

Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - GP and Allied Health COVID-19 Services) Amendment Determination No. 2 2020
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00259

Taken together, the two legislative instruments allow patients at risk of COVID-19 access to the following services:
- Remote equivalent Level B to D consulting room attendance items provided by GPs and other doctors in general practice. These services can be provided by telehealth, or in circumstances when video conferencing is unavailable, by phone.
- Remote equivalent focussed psychological strategies consulting room items provided by GPs and other doctors in general practice with appropriate mental health training. These mental health treatment services can be provided by telehealth, or in circumstances when video conferencing is unavailable, by phone.
Explanatory Statement

Health Insurance (Section 3C Pathology Services - COVID-19) Amendment Determination 2020
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00258

The purpose of the Health Insurance (Section 3C Pathology Services - COVID-19) Amendment Determination 2020 (the Amendment Determination) is to amend the Health Insurance (Section 3C Pathology Services - COVID-19) Determination 2020 to decouple the requirement to test for SARS-COV-2 with testing for other respiratory viruses. Previously, item 69485 was required to be provided in conjunction with a test described in items 69494, 69495 or 69496 to determine if the patient had COVID-19 or another respiratory virus such as influenza. However, updated clinical advice is that this requirement is not necessary and is now putting an unnecessary burden on pathology testing resources.
Explanatory Statement

Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - GP and Allied Health COVID-19 Services) Amendment Determination No.1 2020 - Subsection 3C(1) - Health Insurance Act 1973
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00255

The purpose of the Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - GP and Allied Health COVID-19 Services) Amendment Determination No.1 2020 (Amendment Determination) is to amend the Principal Determination to include new MBS items to allow nurse practitioners and mental health allied health workers to provide these services via the phone when video conferencing is unavailable to patients who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, or who are more vulnerable of contracting the COVID-19 virus. The new services will also be able to be provided by nurse practitioners and mental health allied health workers who are in isolation for possible COVID-19 infection. This will allow eligible clinical psychologists (items 91181 and 91182), eligible psychologists (items 91183 and 81184), eligible occupational therapists (items 91185 and 91186), eligible social workers (items 91187 and 91188) and nurse practitioners (items 91189, 91190 and 91191) to provide certain health services to their patients during the period of their isolation.
Explanatory Statement

Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - Specialist, Consultant Physician and Consultant Psychiatrist COVID-19 Telehealth Services) Amendment Determination No.1 2020 - Health Insurance Act 1973
Legislative Instrument - F2020L00254

The purpose of the Health Insurance (Section 3C General Medical Services - Specialist, Consultant Physician and Consultant Psychiatry COVID-19 Telehealth Services) Amendment Determination No.1 2020 (the Amendment Determination) is to amend the Principal Determination to include ten new temporary MBS items to allow specialists, consultant physicians and consultant psychiatrists to provide these services via the phone when video conferencing is unavailable to patients who have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus, or who are more vulnerable of contracting the COVID-19 virus. These new services will also be able to be provided by specialists, consultant physicians and consultant psychiatrists who are in isolation for possible COVID-19 infection. This will allow specialists (item 91832 and 91833), consultant physicians (items 91834, 91835 and 91836) and consultant psychiatrists (items 91837, 91838, 91839, 91840 and 91841) to continue to provide certain health services to their patients during the period of their isolation.
Explanatory Statement

National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Amendment (2020 Measures No. 3) Declaration 2020
Notifiable Instrument - F2020N00028

Download

Australian Capital Territory

Public Health (Emergency) Declaration 2020 (No 1)
Notifiable Instrument NI 2020-153

This instrument declares that a public health emergency exists. The area of the public health emergency is for the whole of the Australian Capital Territory. For a period of five days beginning from the day and time this instrument is made. The public health risk to the ACT community posed by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This instrument commences immediately following the making of this instrument.
Download

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Proclamations

None this edition.

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Gazette Notices

New South Wales

16 MAR 2020: NSW GOVERNMENT GAZETTE No. 49: Extraordinary Gazette - Public Health Act 2010 - Section 7 - Public Health (COVID-19 Quarantine) Order 2020

16 MAR 2020: NSW GOVERNMENT GAZETTE No. 48: Extraordinary Gazette - Public Health Act 2010 - Section 7 - Public Health (COVID-19 Public Events) Order 2020

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Consolidated Legislation

Private Health Insurance (Prostheses) Rules (No. 1) 2020
Legislative Instrument Compilations - F2020C00192

Rules/Other as amended, taking into account amendments up to Private Health Insurance (Prostheses) Amendment Rules (No. 1) 2020.
Administered by: Health
Download

Health Insurance (Diagnostic Imaging Services Table) Regulations 2019
Legislative Instrument Compilation - F2020C00187

Regulations as amended, taking into account amendments up to Health Insurance Legislation Amendment (Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine) Regulations 2020.
Download

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New Bills

Queensland

Public Health and Other Legislation (Public Health Emergency) Amendment Bill 2020

A Bill for An Act to amend the City of Brisbane Act 2010, the Constitution of Queensland 2001, the Economic Development Act 2012, the Electoral Act 1992, the Local Government Act 2009, the Local Government (Dissolution of Ipswich City Council) Act 2018, the Local Government Electoral Act 2011, the Local Government Regulation 2012, the Planning Act 2016, the Public Health Act 2005 and the State Penalties and Enforcement Regulation 2014 for particular purposes.

The Bill will:

  • amend the Public Health Act to:
  • strengthen powers of the chief health officer and emergency officers appointed under the Act for the COVID-19 emergency to implement social distancing measures, including regulating mass gatherings, isolating or quarantining people suspected or known to have been exposed to COVID-19 and protecting vulnerable populations such as the elderly;
  • provide that the compensation provisions that apply to declared public health emergencies do not apply to the COVID-19 emergency; and
  • amend the State Penalties Enforcement Regulation 2014 so that penalty infringement notices (PINs) can be issued for the offences of failing to comply with a direction made by the chief health officer or an emergency officer in relation to the COVID-19 emergency.

The Bill will also amend:

  • the Planning Act 2016 and Economic Development Act 2012 to ensure important services may continue to be provided to the community;
  • the City of Brisbane Act 2010, Local Government Act 2009, Local Government (Dissolution of Ipswich City Council) Act 2018, Local Government Electoral Act 2011 and Local Government Regulation 2012 to provide flexibility, if required, for the election date for the 2020 quadrennial local government election and statutory processes for the conduct of the election, to help minimise serious risks to the health and safety of persons caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • the Electoral Act 1992 to provide flexibility, if required, to facilitate the holding of State by-elections in a way that helps minimise serious risks to the health and safety of persons caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • the Constitution of Queensland 2001 to allow meetings of Executive Council to be held via technology, such as teleconferencing or videoconferencing.

Intro 18/03/20, Declared urgent 18/03/20, 2R 18/03/20, Passed 18/03/20

Assent 19/03/20, Act No. 11 of 2020

Commencement: This Act commences on the day this Act receives the Royal Assent, except that Part 11, division 3 commences 1 year after the date of assent of this Act.

Download: Explanatory Notes | Explanatory Speech | Statement of Compatibility | 2R Speech

Resources Safety and Health Queensland Bill 2019

A Bill for an Act to establish a statutory body called Resources Safety and Health Queensland to regulate safety and health in the resources sector, establish an employing office, provide for the Commissioner for Resources Safety and Health, and to amend this Act, the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999, the Explosives Act 1999, the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999, the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004, the Public Service Act 2008, the Statutory Bodies Financial Arrangements Regulation 2019 and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 for particular purposes.

The objective of the Bill is to establish a revised regulatory framework for resources safety and health in Queensland that engenders worker trust, ensures appropriate independence and transparency, and enhances independent oversight of the performance of the regulator.

Intro 04/09/19, Referred to the State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee for consideration 04/09/19, Report due 18/10/19, 2R Speech 04/02/20, 2R debate 17/03/20, Passed 17/03/20

Assent TBA, Act No. TBA

Commencement: This Act, other than sections 120 and 122, commences on a day to be fixed by proclamation.

Download: Explanatory Notes | Explanatory Speech | Committee Report | 2R Speech

 

Victoria

Assisted Reproductive Treatment Amendment Bill 2020

A Bill for an Act to amend the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 to remove requirements for criminal record and child protection order checks to be carried out before a woman may undergo a treatment procedure and for other purposes.

LA: 1R 19/02/20, 2R 20/02/20, 17/03/20, Passed TBA
LC: 1R TBA, 2R TBA, Passed TBA

Assent TBA, Act No. TBA

Commencement: Subject to subsection (2), this Act comes into operation on a day or days to be proclaimed. If a provision of this Act does not come into operation before 2 September 2020, it comes into operation on that day.

Download: Explanatory Memorandum | First Reading | 2R Speech | Statement of Compatibility

Health Services Amendment (Mandatory Vaccination of Healthcare Workers) Bill 2020

A Bill for an Act to amend the Health Services Act 1988 and the Ambulance Services Act 1986 to provide for directions relating to the vaccination of persons employed or engaged by certain hospitals, health service establishments and ambulance services and for other purposes.

The Health Services Amendment (Mandatory Vaccination of Healthcare Workers) Bill 2020 amends the Health Services Act 1988 and the Ambulance Services Act 1986 to provide the Secretary with powers to give directions to public hospitals (which includes public health services), denominational hospitals, health service establishments and ambulance services specifying requirements for persons employed or engaged by those entities to be vaccinated or prove immunity to specified diseases. The purpose of the new direction making powers is to ensure the health and safety of patients, employees and other persons working in or visiting health services, by limiting the risk of transmission of vaccine-preventable disease.

LA: 1R 19/02/20, 2R 20/02/20, 05/03/20, Passed 05/03/20
LC: 1R 05/03/20, 2R 05/03/20, 17/03/20, Passed 17/03/20

Assent TBA, Act No. TBA

Commencement: This Act comes into operation on the day after the day on which this Act receives the Royal Assent.

Download: Explanatory Memorandum | First Reading | 2R Speech | Statement of Compatibility

 

Western Australia

Western Australian Future Fund Amendment (Future Health Research and Innovation Fund) Bill 2019

A Bill for an Act to amend the Western Australian Future Fund Act 2012.

The Bill amends the Western Australian Future Fund Act 2012 to establish a long term secure source of funding to support medical and health research, and medical and health innovation and commercialisation in Western Australia.

The Bill will enable funds to be made available to support activities that contribute to one or more of the following:

  • improving the financial sustainability of Western Australia's health system;
  • improving the health and wellbeing of Western Australians;
  • improving Western Australia's economic prosperity; or
  • advancing Western Australia to being, or maintaining Western Australia's position as, a national or international leader in any qualifying activities.

The Bill will repurpose the Western Australian Future Fund (the Future Fund), established by the Western Australian Future Fund Act 2012, to create the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (the FHRI Fund), and establish a new agency special purpose account to be called the Western Australian Future Health Research and Innovation Account (the FHRI Account). The FHRI Fund will continue as the Treasurer's special purpose account and administered by the Treasurer. The FHRI Account is administered by the Minister for Health.

Other components of the Bill include:

  • a power for the Minister for Health to make arrangements to facilitate the furthering of the object of the Act;
  • a power for the Minister for Health to approve existing arrangements made before the commencement of the amendments;
  • a power for the Minister for Health to apply money standing to the credit of the FHRI Account for the purposes of, or in relation to, an arrangement;
  • reporting requirements for the FHRI Account and the FHRI Fund;
  • a delegation power for the Minister for Health and the chief executive officer of the FHRI Account Department;
  • a power for the Minister for Health to establish and maintain an advisory group; and
  • retaining the manner and form provision, in relation to sections 7, 8, 9 and 10, until 30 June 2032.

LA: Notice of Motion 25/09/19
LA: Intro 26/09/19, 2R 26/09/19, 29/10/19, 30/10/19, 12/11/19, 13/11/19, Passed 13/11/19
LC: Intro 19/11/19, 2R 19/11/19, 19/02/20, 17/03/20, Passed TBA

Assent TBA, Act No. TBA

Commencement: This Act comes into operation as follows -

(a) sections 1 and 2 - on the day on which this Act receives the Royal Assent;
(b) the rest of the Act - on the 28th day after the day on which this Act receives the Royal Assent.

Download: Explanatory Memorandum | 2R Speech

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New Acts

None this edition.

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