COVID 19 Recent changes and links to help you source information on managing positive cases

07 Jan 2022

The AVA are now getting requests on accessing information on  how to manage positive cases in veterinary practices. Members might find these links useful:

This update contains information relevant to veterinary businesses provided by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, of which the AVA is a member and is a summary of major COVID announcements over the last week.  

Close Contact Definition  

National Cabinet agreed that close contacts will be defined as:  

  • Household or household-like contacts of a confirmed case.  
  • Close contacts will be defined, except in exceptional circumstances, as those who usually live with or who have stayed in the same household for more than 4 hours as a case during their infectious period.  

Testing and Isolation requirements for close contacts and COVID cases  

National Cabinet agreed that:  

  • The isolation period for COVID-19 cases will be standardised regardless of vaccination status to a length of 7 days from the date of their positive test.  

This is the protocol as of the 1st of January 2022 – an updated version will be provided when available. 

Close contact arrangements commenced in:  

  • ACT, NSW, VIC, QLD, TAS 
  • SA will continue with a 10-day quarantine period for cases and close contacts. 
  • Western Australia and the Northern Territory will advise on the start date for new arrangements.  

Changes to testing requirements  

National Cabinet agreed changes to testing requirements for all states except for Western Australia including:  

  • Confirmation PCR test will not be required after a positive RAT. Individual states and territories will provide further information on how a positive RAT will be recorded. Anyone who tests positive is encouraged to contact their GP for support as required.  
  • Testing before interstate travel will no longer be required except for Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, with Queensland and Tasmania to review these requirements in the coming weeks. State testing clinics will not be able to be used for interstate travel purposes. 

Workplace Health and Safety  

National Cabinet noted the impact on business of current state workplace Health and Safety laws that could imply requiring employees to return a negative RAT test in order to present to work. National Cabinet agreed the Commonwealth Attorney General will convene a meeting of relevant ministers from all jurisdictions to consider workplace health and safety requirements with a view to removing any potential obligation to impose testing requirements in workplaces on employees.  

The ACCI will provide an update when this is known. 

Rapid Antigen Tests  

National Cabinet noted that COVID-19 tests are free and available at state testing clinics for people who have symptoms or are a close contact 

As at 5th Jan - 200 million rapid antigen tests are on their way to Australia.  

Cmth  

70 million  

NSW  

50 million  

VIC  

44 million  

ACT  

1 million  

QLD  

18 million  

SA  

   

WA  

   

NT  

   

TAS  

   

   

Supply Chain issues and hoarding  

National Cabinet received a briefing from Joe Buffone on behalf of the National Coordination Mechanism (NCM). Supply chain issues continue to be one of the main disruptors of broad access to RATs. National Cabinet noted that the Commonwealth is working through the NCM to finalise anti-hoarding measures with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and other major retailers that stock RATs to limit the number of RATs available for sale to each individual.   

Vaccines  

The eligibility for boosters will ramp up over January.    

  • ATAGI has recommended that the eligibility for COVID-19 booster vaccination be expanded for adults aged 18 and older.  
  • The minimum interval between the primary course and the booster dose has been reduced from 5 months to 4 months - from 4 January. At the end of January it will move to 3 months.  
  • The COVID Vaccine Claims Scheme is being rolled out – see below 

Ancillary information 

A STATEMENT FROM THE AUSTRALIAN HEALTH PROTECTION PRINCIPAL COMMITTEE (AHPPC) ON TEST, TRACE, ISOLATE AND QUARANTINE (TTIQ) IN THE CONTEXT OF HIGH LEVELS OF COVID-19 COMMUNITY TRANSMISSION.  

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) notes:  

  • that current and expected future high caseloads necessitate a change in public health actions including policies and processes for test, trace, isolate and quarantine (TTIQ) to support public health sustainability, social cohesion and economic recovery.  
  • that as local epidemiology is rapidly becoming similar across jurisdictions, nationally consistent definitions and public health recommendations will assist clear communication and community adherence and lead to public confidence. 

COVID-19 VACCINE CLAIMS SCHEME INFORMATION  

A number of guidance documents have been published by the Department of Health with further information on the COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme. 

In particular, the FAQs (covid-19-vaccine-claims-scheme FAQs.pdf) talk to the interaction of the scheme with workers’ compensation from page 8 and other business considerations.   

How do state based workers compensation arrangements interact with the COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme? For example, can you only claim for vaccination injuries under the Scheme?  

The intent of the Scheme is not to replace existing workers compensation arrangements. It also does not remove an individual’s right to pursue workers compensation if eligible or seek to litigate in relation to an adverse outcome from vaccination. However, the Scheme will provide claimants with a more efficient administrative option to seek compensation and an outcome similar to a court process, rather than having to undertake a complex and costly court process. Should a patient seek and receive workers’ compensation payments related to an adverse reaction to a TGA approved vaccine, any payments received by way of workers’ compensation would be taken into account so that the claimant is not compensated twice. Where compensation is also paid under the Scheme for the same injury, the claimant may be required to repay either the Commonwealth or the relevant workers’ compensation scheme.  

What happens if an employee suffers an adverse effect following the vaccine as part of our workplace vaccine program?  

If your employee has suffered an adverse effect related to a TGA approved COVID-19 vaccine received in the course of employment, they may be eligible to make a claim under the Scheme.  

The employee will need to meet the eligibility criteria for claims under the Scheme, including providing medical evidence from a healthcare practitioner confirming that they suffered harm as a result of receiving a TGA approved COVID-19 vaccine.  

Will employers be responsible for an adverse event that occurred as part of our employee vaccination program?  

The Scheme does not replace workers compensation arrangements. However, the Scheme will provide claimants with an administrative option to seek compensation rather than a complex and costly court process. In assessing claims under the Scheme, the Commonwealth will not consider responsibility of employers in relation to harm suffered by a claimant, or death of an employee, that is directly a result of a workplace COVID-19 vaccination. However, employers’ broader responsibilities are not being indemnified through this Scheme.    

What is the interaction between the vaccine claims scheme and businesses?  

If an eligible claimant is injured as a result of a TGA approved COVID-19 vaccination received in the workplace, the individual can submit a claim under the Scheme where the minimum threshold is $1,000. If a claimant is a sole trader or business owner, the impact on their income as a result of the harm suffered as a result of receiving a TGA approved COVID-19 vaccine will likely be relevant to assessing any compensation amounts for lost earnings by that individual.