The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) presents a major challenge for everyone involved in providing healthcare and residential aged care services. The World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 a pandemic. As of Monday, 16 March the Victorian Government has declared a State of Emergency.
All Victorian public hospitals are preparing for the health emergency the coronavirus disease presents. That means further tightening infection control measures and protecting the most vulnerable wherever possible.
At the time of writing (17 March 2020), Castlemaine Health has tested 26 people for Coronavirus disease with no positive results returned. Testing for Coronavirus is also taking place at GP clinics in the shire for clinic patients and at Bendigo Health. A list of Victorian coronavirus assessment centres is available on the DHHS website.
Advice for visitors to aged care
Residents in our aged care homes are at a greater risk of infection than the general population and are more vulnerable to serious illness if they do become infected. Castlemaine Health has therefore updated its advice to visitors to aged care.
Visits to aged care:
- If you are unwell, do not visit.
- If you have returned from overseas travel, do not visit.
- Avoid or postpone bringing children and young people into aged care.
Activities and social programs in aged care:
- All scheduled visits from schools and kindergartens have been cancelled.
- Volunteer visits will likely reduce in frequency in the short-term and may cease altogether indefinitely in the near future. This will be determined in consultation with our volunteers and staff
Advice on Castlemaine Health services
Services, including elective surgery, are running normally at Castlemaine Health in line with DHHS guidance. This may change as DHHS advice is updated. However, group programs run through our Community Rehabilitation Centre have ceased with alternative methods for delivery being explored in consultation with participants and staff. Social outings arranged by our Adult Day Service are currently under review.
Advice for the community
If you fit the risk categories advised by DHHS at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus and begin to feel unwell and develop fever or shortness of breath, a cough or respiratory illness, call your GP or the coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice on testing and how to proceed. If you have serious symptoms such as breathing difficulty, call Triple Zero (000). If you have been advised to self-isolate, follow the self-isolation guidelines issued by DHHS.
To reduce your risk of coronavirus infection:
- Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
- Stay at home if you feel sick. If you take medication make sure you have enough.
- Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep.
- Wearing a face mask is not necessary if you are well.
- Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.
Expert and detailed advice about COVID-19 is being regularly published by DHHS at www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus. The Australian Government Department of Health website at www.health.gov.au is also a useful resource. Castlemaine Health is publishing general community advice from the DHHS and Australian Government on our website at www.castlemainehealth.org.au and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com.au/castlemainehealth.