Published on 8 September 2022

As community prevalence of Covid and patients requiring hospitalization declines, we continue to review, monitor and evaluate the risk to our patients, staff and volunteers. As has been the case in the past we will continue to implement protective measures as required.

Changes to Pandemic Orders
From 11.59pm on Thursday 8 September, the Victorian Government has announced plans to reduce the positive case self-isolation period from 7 days to 5 days for people who are asymptomatic. This means that if you are asymptomatic, you may now leave isolation on day 5 following testing positive for COVID-19. Some sensitive settings will be exempt from this and workers who work in sites such as hospitals, residential care facilities or disability will not be permitted to attend work until day 7.

For Western Health, there is effectively no change to the current return-to-work advice for staff who test positive to COVID-19. While you may leave your home if asymptomatic at the end of day 5 for other reasons, you cannot return to work. Please refer to the following QRG for current return to work advice.

Changes to mask wearing
Non-clinical staff working in non-public facing areas can now choose not to wear a mask, provided they maintain 1.5m physical distance from others. If physical distancing is not possible, they will need to continue wearing masks.

There is no change to staff working in clinical areas, they must continue to wear N95 masks. Anyone who wears an N95 anywhere must wear it everywhere unless in a break area when eating or drinking.

Both surgical and N95 masks will continue to be made available to any staff who wish to continue to wear a mask. New posters and signage reminding visitors to wear masks will be displayed shortly throughout our sites.

Changes to COVID-19 Staff Enquiries Helpdesk
From Monday 12 September, the COVID-19 Staff Enquires Helpdesk will be scaling back operations. Staff who have enquiries about COVID-19 should contact their manager for support in the first instance. A Frequently Asked Questions QRG has been developed to assist managers with staff enquiries. A reminder that all staff testing positive to COVID are required to complete the Western Health COVID-19 REDCAP survey Click here. The REDCAP automated email response provides key messages and information to staff about their responsibilities.

Changes to Staff PCR testing – self testing pilot
Starting Thursday 8 September, the Sunshine staff COVID testing clinic is piloting PCR self-testing in the JKWC marquee, operating hours 7.30am-9pm. Symptomatic staff presenting for PCR testing will be given a pack containing a registration form and PCR instruction sheet outlining the self-testing process. If staff require assistance with using the PCR, the COVID testing team will be available to help. Asymptomatic staff requesting a PCR can either use it in the marquee or alternatively will be given a self-testing pack to take away to perform the PCR at their convenience. The completed registration form and swab can be dropped off at the marquee for processing during opening hours. RAT kits continue to be available for staff pick up from reception areas or designated collection points at each Western Health site.

Western Health’s COVID community testing sites set to close
Plans are in place to close Western Heath’s community testing sites this month after two and a half years of operations, signaling the end of an era. Our community testing sites opened in March 2020 – right at the start of the pandemic in Australia. Testing efforts, along with contact tracing, remained one of Victoria’s main lines of defense for months and months, allowing the State some time while a vaccine was developed and implemented.

My thanks and appreciation goes to the testing team who delivered 548,000 PCR tests, operated four community testing sites and stood up a number of pop-up sites, distributed 393,000 RATs since January 2022, and implemented a staff surveillance testing program. They continued irrespective of  the extremes of Melbourne weather in marquees and outdoor pavilions, operated up to 13 hours a day during peak demand, managed queues and wait times of up to six hours, and relocated on many occasions, often at short notice. Thank you again to the testing team and to all the many teams across Western Health who supported this initiative. This collective effort and response is another example of Western Health’s commitment to our communities. Well done!

The first site to close will be Melbourne Showgrounds with the last day of testing being 9 September, closing at 3pm.


Chief Operating Officer