10 March 2020
Australia is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus now named COVID-19, first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They cause illnesses that can range from the common cold to more severe diseases. This virus originating in Hubei Province, China, is called ‘novel’ because it is new. It had not been detected before this outbreak.
Health authorities are continuing to update advice.
At the time of writing this bulletin, 80 cases had been found in Australia, 12 in Queensland. Twenty-two people have recovered, and three people have sadly died. The remaining cases are in a stable condition.
The majority of cases of COVID-19 have been reported from mainland China – 80,859 at the date of this bulletin. Outside of mainland China, 24,727 cases have been reported – with the majority of new cases from Italy, South Korea and Iran.
Lutheran Services, as a department of the Lutheran Church Queensland District, is cooperating with evolving health advice from the Australian Government.
Our commitment is to remain vigilant to government directions, support the government’s containment strategies and practice prevention procedures.
No Lutheran Services site has reported any cases of confirmed COVID-19.
The Australian Government has announced the activation of the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19.
This plan advises residential aged care workers and healthcare workers to stay away from their workplace for 14 days if they have recently returned from Italy.
If workers are returning from mainland China, South Korea or Iran, they should self-isolate for 14 days. Additionally, if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days they must isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case.
Accordingly, Lutheran Services has established a response team and enacted an Action Plan which aligns with the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan and other Federal and State information regarding COVID-19 management.
The health and safety of our staff, residents, clients and their families and suppliers is paramount in this action plan.
We are taking advice from the relevant authorities about the risk held for our communities and considering its potential impact upon Lutheran Services operations in the coming months.
The response team is currently completing plans in the event that there is a more considerable outbreak of COVID-19 and/or if a member of one of our communities were to be diagnosed with the virus. Ensuring business continuity is of course also a critical element of this planning.
We are also awaiting further advice from the Australian Government following their meeting with 70 aged care CEOs and peak bodies on Friday 6th March.
Some of the issues arising from this meeting was the guarantee of PPE for aged care services and ensuring capacity for the workforce in the event of infection.
The meeting highlighted evidence that with the right protective gear and infection control protocols, workers are at a very low risk of contracting the virus.
Actions to prevent and prepare are currently underway.
Each staff member has been directed to review their online training regarding infection control to ensure they are up to date and practicing our safe hygiene procedures.
All of our Aged Care and Community Services sites are adding to their Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) stocks in the event they should be needed.
Australia is well prepared and has excellent health systems to deal with this virus. The Commonwealth and State and Territory governments have worked closely together to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19 and minimise the risk to Australia and keep the community safe.
You can access the latest advice and fact sheets from the Australian Government here:
The latest world-wide information is available at the World Health Organisation website here:
The health and safety of our residents, clients and their families and our staff is, of course, paramount and we thank you in advance for your cooperation and support as we navigate this situation.
If you would like to request further information on Lutheran Services’ response to the novel coronavirus please contact your local service manager or email me directly at email@example.com.
CEO Lutheran Services