COVID-19

The following information is provided regarding Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection prevention and control and medicines. 

The overall aim of infection control measures is to minimise the risk of exposure to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19); reducing transmission, infections and illness.

Effective infection control is best achieved by applying a combination of:

  • Individual measures;
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE); and
  • Organisational and environmental measures.

Infection control measures are essential in healthcare settings.  It is also helpful to encourage individuals within the community to use certain measures to reduce their risk of exposure, or to reduce the likelihood of those with the disease transmitting it to others.

Advice from Australian Government Department of Health

The Australian Government Department of Health has also produced an Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (the COVID-19 Plan)which provides an overview of the national approach and an operational plan.

Latest news from the Commission

Partial easing of restrictions on elective surgery, investigations and procedures

Following a National Cabinet decision, Australian hospitals have commenced easing restrictions on elective surgery, investigations and procedures from 27 April 2020.

Health service organisations are required to prepare and implement an organisation-wide Risk Management Strategy to manage and reduce the risk related to the transmission of COVID-19.

The Commission has developed advice to support health service organisations and clinicians implement these requirements.

​The frequently asked questions below are to support health service organisations and clinicians to implement these requirements, and for consumers, patients and carers to understand what the changes mean for them:

Infection Prevention and Control and PPE

The Commission has produced a number of new resources to promote infection prevention and control in the COVID-19 environment, and illustrate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) under current circumstances. 

2020
Poster or graphic

The PPE posters complement the existing standardised signage, highlighting the types of PPE and clinical situations in which specific combinations of PPE should be used. 

As the posters are of national value, they have been developed to allow states and territories and other organisations to co-badge, as needed
 

Medicines and COVID-19

The Commission has produced a number of resources concerning medicines and COVID-19. These resources include information on potential medicines to treat COVID-19, useful web links, and position statements on medicine-related issues

To access the full suite of resources, please visit the Medication Safety area of our website. Individual resources are linked below.

2020
Publication, report or update

2020
Publication, report or update

Healthdirect

In addition, the Healthdirect hotline is 1800 022 222 and a range of information is provided at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus 

Advice from the Commission and the National Health and Medical Research Council

Healthcare workers and health service organisations should follow the recommendations of the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (the AICGs) and directions, and advice from their state and territory health departments. 

The AICGs contain specific guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at section 3.  The sequences for putting on and removing PPE are available for download.

Further information on the Application of Transmission-based Precautions is also available in section 3 of the AICGs.
 
For information on Outbreak Investigation and Management, refer to section 3.4.2 (pp.149-160) 

Advice from the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization has developed the following videos and posters on how to how to use alcohol-based hand-rub and how to wash your hands:

It is essential to maintain good hygiene in order to prevent infection. In the community and at home, wash your hands well with plain soap and water and dry thoroughly. You can use soap and hand-wash, or you can use your body wash, if that is more available. 

If you are using an alcohol-based hand-rub, rub the solution over the back of you hands, your palms, and all of your fingers, then let your hands dry completely, as shown in the video and poster.

The Commission encourages you to wash your hands frequently, and cover your mouth when you are coughing with a tissue which is discarded, or cough into your elbow.

Read more about our work on hand hygiene in healthcare settings

Non-healthcare settings: use of non-alcohol based hand rub

The Commission recommends that hand hygiene be undertaken at all times, particularly at this time to prevent transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

In non-healthcare settings, hand hygiene can be performed using soap and water and thoroughly drying hands. Where access to soap and/or water is not available, an alcohol-based hand rub (also known as alcohol-based sanitiser) is recommended. The use of soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rubs containing 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol, have been proven to effectively reduce bacteria, fungi and viruses on hands, when used correctly. These hand hygiene processes are effective against viruses such as COVID-19.

These recommendations are consistent with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations on hand hygiene.

Non-alcohol based hand rubs are not recommended for use, as there is limited evidence available to support their effectiveness in reducing the bioburden on hands. Non-alcohol based hand rub preparations based on quaternary ammonium compounds should be avoided in the context of COVID-19 context, as current evidence indicates that these compounds have limited activity against viruses such as COVID-19.

The Commission acknowledges that in some settings the use of alcohol-based hand rubs may not be suitable. In those situations, it is recommended to use soap and water for hand hygiene, and if choosing to use non-alcohol based hand rubs, it is important to be aware that these products may have less activity against coronaviruses, compared to an alcohol-based hand rub.

It is noted that this information does not cover the use of cleaning products that contain quaternary ammonium compounds for disinfection of hard surfaces. 
 

Local arrangements

For information on local arrangements in your state or territory, such as COVID-19 testing clinics and management of concerned healthcare workers, visit your state or territory health department website:

QUEENSLAND 

NEW SOUTH WALES

AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

VICTORIA

TASMANIA

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

NORTHERN TERRITORY