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COVID-19 Information for Dentists

 

Latest information on:

Click on the above topics to find your area of interest.

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Updated Wednesday 18 May 2022

 

Update on NSW COVID Settings 

 

From Friday 22 April, close contacts (defined as a household contact or an individual deemed by NSW Health to be a close contact) no longer have to isolate, as long as they have no symptoms and comply with the following guidelines:

  • Do not visit healthcare, aged care, hospitals, disability, and correctional facilities unless you require care yourself or a special exemption applies;
  • Wear a face mask in indoor settings outside the home;
  • Undertake daily RAT tests before coming into close contact with people outside their household, where practicable;

  • Avoid contact with elderly and immunocompromised persons where possible;

  • Work from home where practical;

  • Notify their employer/educational facility that they are a close contact, and that they are not required to isolate as long as they comply with the above.

Close contacts will need to comply with the above guidelines for 7 days from the time a person in their household tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here.  
 

Click here for the COVID-19 risk assessment approach for household and close contacts who are health practitioners in non-hospital settings.


Click here for information for people exposed to COVID in the community.

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Testing positive to COVID-19 in NSW 

 

The seven-day isolation requirement remains in place for anyone who has recorded a positive RAT or PCR result.

In the first instance, if you test positive to COVID-19, you must isolate at home for at least 7 days and avoid visiting high risk settings (health care, aged care, disability care or correctional facilities) for a further 3 days. 

You can only leave self-isolation after 7 days if you do not have a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. You do not need to test before leaving self-isolation in NSW. 

An additional requirement for healthcare after leaving self-isolation after getting a positive COVID-19 test is to wear a mask when near to or talking to other people and avoid visiting high risk settings (health care, aged care, disability care or correctional facilities) for a further 3 days.

For more information and advice for testing positive to COVID-19 – please click here.
 

Please call or email the Practice Services team if you need help

Ph:02 8436 9927 or practiceservices@adansw.com.au

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Guidance for businesses with a worker who tests positive for COVID-19 in NSW

 

A business owner or employer might be notified that a worker who has attended the workplace has tested positive for COVID-19 by:

  • public health authorities
  • the worker who has tested positive
  • an employer of a worker who visits the workplace.

Please follow the latest NSW Government step-by-step guidance for businesses with a worker who tests positive for COVID-19 click here.  This information includes business responsibilities and when workers can return to work.

Please note, the privacy and confidentiality of the person who tested positive for COVID-19 must always be maintained. 


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NSW Government update to COVID-19 settings - including masks, patient screening and QR Codes

 

From Friday, 25 February face masks are only required on public transport and public transport waiting areas, planes, and indoors at airports, public hospitals, private health facilities, residential aged care facilities or hostels and indoor music festivals with more than 1000 people.  

Read more here.

While the mandates for wearing masks exclude private dental practice settings, ADA NSW recommends dental practitioners continue to take a reasonable and sensible approach to non-clinical mask use in dental practices - that being, dental staff and patients should continue to wear masks in both clinical and non-clinical areas.


Practice specific mask policies could be relevant for team members who have frequent contact with numerous members of the public. Whether a surgical mask is worn at the time of a COVID-19 exposure could be considered as part of a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment. 

Screening patients is still a requirement to support your assessment and management of COVID risk. Click here to view screening questions.

QR check-ins are no longer required for dental practices.

In NSW, COVID Safe Plans are optional.

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Update on ACT COVID settings  

 

The ACT Government has announced that household contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases will not have to quarantine if they have no COVID-19 symptoms but will be required to minimise their movement in the community and comply with risk mitigation requirements including mask wearing indoors, COVID testing requirements and not entering high-risk settings. Read more

There are no changes for positive cases: the seven-day isolation requirement remains in place for anyone who has recorded a positive RAT or PCR result. For information for people who test positive to COVID click here.

I
n the ACT, people who have recorded a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) are now able to notify ACT Health directly of this result through the ACT COVID-19 website.
Please see here for The new online reporting form that is now available. 
 

From Friday 25 February the ACT brought into line similar mask requirements as NSW and Victoria. Therefore, while masks are no longer mandatory a sensible and reasonable approach to wearing them for non clinical use is recommended. Read more here.

While Check-In CBR is not required for most settings, including a private dental practice, a COVID-19 Safety Plan is. Read more here.
 

ACT Government Information for health professionals
 
The ACT Government have set up a useful webpage for health professionals to access information relating to how to manage a COVID exposure in a healthcare setting, to prevention of COVID exposures and what to do if a contact has attended your workplace.
Click here to access this webpage.

Screening patients is still a requirement to support your assessment and management of COVID risk. Click here to view screening questions.

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Requesting patient’s vaccination status as condition of the provision of care

 
On 21 December 2021, Ahpra and the National Boards provided an update for all registered practitioners stating that the National Boards expect all health practitioners to facilitate access to care regardless of someone’s vaccination status. To read more, click here  

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NSW COVID-19 Health Care Worker (HCW) Exposure Matrix

 

NSW Health updated the HCW Exposure Risk Assessment Matrix for vaccinated staff on 12 January 2022. The purpose of this matrix is to assist healthcare facilities to assess staff who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. 

risk-matrix-hcw-vaccinated-1.png

When appropriate PPE has been used, healthcare workers can be very confident they are adequately protected.

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NSW mandatory vaccination requirements extended to private health sector – including dental practice staff 


On Wednesday 22 April the NSW Government  announced that Public health orders requiring key workforces (including the dental workforce) to be vaccinated will be lifted. However the current requirements for vaccination remain in place until further details are finalised in coming weeks. Orders requiring aged care and disability workers to be vaccinated will remain in force. Read more


The NSW Government announced that mandatory vaccination requirements has extended to all primary care and other private sector health service providers across NSW.  Dental practitioners are categorised as Stage 2 workers, this means that, regardless of whether you are practising as a dental practitioner in a private or public setting, you will be required to have received your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 31 January 2022 and your second dose by 28 February 2022.  This Public Health Order also extends to staff working in a dental practice. Dental practitioners should also note the recommended time intervals between vaccine doses.


Please see the Public Health Order here.

The Dental Council of NSW provided additional guidance for dental advising this mandate will apply to all dental practitioners and all staff who work in private or public dental settings. Read more here.


ADA NSW are working closely with NSW Health to advocate for our members prior to the commencement of the changes, and will continue to keep members informed of further information as it becomes available. 

This mandate does not extend to private ACT dental practices. See more information here
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NSW Updated guidance for returned travellers from overseas

Rules for mandatory quarantine have changed.  All fully vaccinated arrivals need to follow NSW Health guidelines for recent fully vaccinated arrivals. . As advice is changing in NSW on the management of recent international arrivals, we suggest you consult this link when making risk-based decisions for when staff can return to work. 

 

ACT Updated guidance for returned travellers from overseas

 

There are currently no direct international flights arriving into the ACT. Fully vaccinated travellers can travel to the ACT where permitted by their port of entry and when complying with the requirements listed on this section of the ACT Government website.

In the ACT, all returning overseas travellers must not enter a high risk setting until 14 days have passed since their arrival into Australia.

 
The ACT Government have defined high risk settings which would exclude a private dental practice.

 
A high-risk setting is defined as:

  • a setting where there are a large number of people who are vulnerable to severe disease from COVID-19 (for example, due to age or chronic medical conditions), and/or

  • where there is a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission due to close proximity and difficulties maintaining physical distancing.

High-risk settings include:

  • hospitals

  • residential aged care facilities

  • correctional and detention facilities

  • residential accommodation facilities that support people who require frequent, close personal care and who are vulnerable to severe disease.

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COVID-19 Booster doses


Booster vaccinations are available for people aged 16 years and can be given 3 months after your second does of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In NSW, under the Public Health (COVID-19 Vaccination of Health Care Workers) Order 2021, a stage 2 health care worker must not do work as a health care worker unless the
worker has had at least 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Therefore, COVID-19 booster vaccinations are not required under the mandatory vaccination public health order.

 
Approved vaccines for a booster dose include:
  • 16  to 17 years:
    • The Pfizer vaccine is the approved booster vaccine for people aged 16 to 17 years.
  • 18 years and over:
    • The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are recommended as boosters for people aged 18 years and over.  

 

A COVID-19 booster is mandatory for all staff, health practitioners and students entering a residential aged care facility, and all in-home and community aged care workers by 12 April 2022 or six weeks from the due date of the persons third dose (13 weeks after the persons second dose). For more information about this requirement, click here.
 
Unless you fit the above criteria, it is not mandatory to get a booster, but it is highly recommended. 

You can book a vaccination at: 

  • NSW Health vaccination clinics 
  • GPs and pharmacies.


For further information about the boosters and to book an appointment in NSW please click here and for further information and bookings in the ACT please click here.  

 

ADA NSW Position on COVID-19 Vaccination
 

ADA NSW supports vaccination against COVID-19 for all eligible members of the community. Our position aligns with the Commonwealth, NSW and ACT Health departments’ advice that vaccination of the Australian population against COVID-19 is an important and vital public health response to the pandemic. Read our position statement here.

All employers have an obligation, wherever practicable, to ensure the health and safety of all their workers. This includes minimising the risks associated with exposure to communicable diseases such as COVID-19. Vaccination has been identified as an effective measure to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Therefore, ADA NSW supports the mandating of COVID-19 vaccinations in the dental profession and the implementation of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements in dental practices for all workers.
 

COVID-19 vaccination policy for workers in dental practices

 

To support our members, HWL Ebsworth Lawyers have provided advice in relation to ADA NSW members' ability to implement a COVID-19 vaccination policy and the various legal and practical risks and issues arising from the policy in a dental practice for all workers. Read here.

 
ADA NSW has arranged for our members to receive a HWL Ebsworth Lawyers general 15 minute telephone consultation regarding this advice at no cost. Book your free 15 minute telephone consultation by calling (02) 9334 8894. Please include your ADA NSW membership number in any communications. 

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Using Rapid Antigen Tests in a dental setting


Rapid antigen tests (RATs) are a quick way to detect COVID-19.
 
The current recommendations for people who should do a RAT include:

  • People with symptoms
  • Household, social, workplace or education contact of a positive case
  • Anyone before going to an event with lots of others, or before visiting vulnerable family members
  • Anyone arriving from overseas (passengers and flight crew)
  • Anyone asked by a school or child care centre to test.  

Employing RATs in a workplace is not required in NSW and is not routinely recommended. Some businesses may choose to implement workplace screening using RATs based on individual risk assessment.
 
The risk assessment should include factors such as the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community, whether staff work with people who are at high risk of developing severe COVID-19, if staff have a role that is critical to business continuity, and whether other mitigating measures can be put in place.

Business should develop COVID-19 safety plans that, at a minimum, ensure all staff:

  • Are aware not to attend work and to get tested if they have symptoms
  • Physically distance at least 1.5 m as much are possible
  • Wear masks indoors in accordance with public health orders
  • Wear masks outdoors when they cannot physically distance from others  
  • Practice regular hand hygiene
  • Have received a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine when eligible.

Rapid antigen tests are not a substitute for COVID-19 safety plans.

Who covers the cost of rapid antigen testing?

Businesses are responsible for procuring their own test kits, in line with the TGA requirements and, where applicable, are expected to cover the cost of implementing testing on site at workplaces. 
Rapid antigen testing is not covered under the Commonwealth’s Medicare Benefits Scheme.
   
You can see the latest information from the NSW Government on rapid antigen testing here 

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PCR tests for patients before treatment

 

Accessing PCR tests should be in limited circumstances only - not as a screening tool.
 
It is inappropriate to request a negative PCR test for patients before treatment.  ADA NSW strongly recommends practitioners continue to screen patients for clinical and epidemiological criteria to ensure those with any risks are appropriately tested for
COVID-19.

                                                                                
ADA NSW continues to work with our stakeholders to remain up-to-date with all public health orders and current health directives.

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Pre-screening before patients arrive

 

Dental practitioners should review their COVID-19 Safe Plans and use a risk-based approach to support the provision of a full range of dental care for all patients. A risk-based approach would include COVID-19 vaccination of all dental team members, COVID-19 screening for staff and patients (for COVID-19 symptoms and risk locations) and the use of appropriate infection prevention and control measures (including PPE, environmental cleaning, improving ventilation, physical distancing and team training).

Call or SMS each patient prior to attendance to pre-screen for COVID-19 risk criteria.

Where risk criteria are identified, dental practitioners should ensure systems are in place to manage patients appropriately.
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Screening patients again at the dental practice

On arrival, re-screen each patient for symptoms when they are checked in and as part of your routine clinical assessment. 

Recommended screening questions:

- Have you had any COVID-19 symptoms in the last 14 days that are new:   

  • fever (37.5° or higher)

  • cough

  • sore throat

  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)

  • runny nose

  • loss of taste

  • loss of smell.

- Have you been in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days and/or been instructed to self-isolate by a health official?

- Have you had COVID-19 in the last 14 days?


Please note the guidance for isolation for the public is constantly changing. The screening questions above are conservative and answers should be considered as part of a general health assessment. Please consider bookmarking these links to support risk-based decision making for managing covid risk.

https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/management/self-isolation-covid-and-close
https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/management/advice-for-confirmed
 

Please call or email the Practice Services team if you need help

Ph:02 8436 9927 or practiceservices@adansw.com.au


 

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