Recent Updates

Keep up to date with what's happening in Victoria and what this means for your practice.

This page was last updated 24 January 2022.

Here we have compiled the current information about COVID-19, any applicable restrictions and what they mean for your practice. We encourage ADAVB members and authorised practice managers to check their email inboxes for the full member updates. Not a member yet? Find out more and join the ADAVB to be kept up to date and supported with member-only services and resources.

Exemption from isolation for close contacts

Dental practitioners and staff members in administrative or ancillary roles in a dental practice have now been added to the list of essential workers who are exempt from isolating to attend work if they are a household close contact.

The exemption only applies to close contacts who have no symptoms and have returned a negative rapid antigen test each day for 5 days, before attending work, and only allows the worker to attend work. When not at the workplace, exempted workers must otherwise comply with all quarantine requirements.

See COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Mandatory COVID vaccine boosters

The COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Specified Facilities) Order 2022 (No. 2) has now been updated. Workers in key sectors who are already required to be fully vaccinated must get their third dose before being permitted to work onsite.  This will apply to healthcare, aged care, disability, emergency services, correctional facility, quarantine accommodation and food distribution workers. Workplaces must sight and record proof of vaccination. For more information see the Mandatory Vaccination page.

If you test positive to COVID-19

If you test positive using a rapid antigen test you must report the  result online, or call 1800 675 398. You don’t need to report your result if you tested positive from a PCR test. Read Reporting your result for more information.

You must isolate at home or in private accommodation for 7 days. If you’re living with others, isolate away from them as much as possible. While you are in isolation:

  • You can’t leave your house for any reason except to get tested, get medical supplies, or in an emergency (including family violence, fire or flood).
  • Isolate away from the other people in your household as much as possible, to reduce the risk of them getting COVID-19.

Don’t get another test if you have already tested positive. You don’t need it. You are automatically released after 7 days. However, you should not return to work if you still have symptoms.

You must tell your household and household-like contacts you have tested positive for COVID-19. They are people you have spent more than four hours with in a house, care facility or accommodation. They must immediately isolate for 7 days. More information on their isolation requirements can be found here.

You must tell your social contacts you have tested positive for COVID-19. Your social contacts are people who you have had 15 minutes of face-to-face contact with, or spent 2 hours with, in the same indoor space during your infections period (generally 48 hours prior to testing positive and/or developing symptoms).

If you worked onsite while infectious, you must tell your employer/workplace you have tested positive to COVID-19.

More information can be found here.

Positive COVID-19 cases at the workplace - changes to notification requirements

Workplaces must notify the Department of Health when five or more positive cases have attended the premises within seven days. From 14 January 2022, employers and self-employed people are no longer required to notify WorkSafe Victoria of positive cases in the workplace if they became aware of it on or after that date, unless it is a notifiable incident.

Changes to COVID testing

If you return a positive result on a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) you will be considered a probable case. You no longer need to confirm your infection with a PCR test. But it will be mandatory to report your positive result to the government through an online form or by phone.

If you tested positive using a rapid antigen test, you are officially a case and you must report your result to the Department of Health online or by calling 1800 675 398.

You don’t need to report your result if you tested positive from a PCR test.

You will also need to isolate and you will be eligible for the same financial support as people who receive a positive PCR test.

More information on Rapid Antigen Tests.

Elective surgery

Non-urgent elective surgery will be temporarily reduced to help hospitals cope with increasing demand on due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Access to care

Ahpra and the National Boards have released a joint statement 'Facilitating access to care in a COVID-19 environment' which says:

National Boards expect all health practitioners to facilitate access to care regardless of someone’s vaccination status. People cannot be denied care if steps can be taken to keep the person, health practitioners and their staff safe. Good practice involves keeping health practitioners, staff and all patients safe when caring for people. Some practitioners may be considering how best to do this while also facilitating access to care in the current COVID-19 environment. In meeting their public health obligations, health practitioners have a responsibility to promote the health of the community through evidence informed health education. Health practitioners play a critical role in helping the community understand the benefits of being vaccinated and many resources recommend that people talk to their health practitioner about the benefits of being vaccinated.

Practitioners must firstly comply with public health orders in their state or territory. The principle of safely facilitating access to care should then guide decisions about treating people in a COVID-19 environment.

Noting some of these scenarios would not work in all practice settings, non-vaccinated people could be:

  • seen in a dedicated room or outside the physical practice
  • required to wear a mask (if not medically exempt)
  • seen at dedicated times only, or wait in a safe area outside until called in for their appointment
  • asked to advise if they have had a recent negative COVID-19 test result prior to attending
  • seen virtually/via telehealth, if appropriate, or
  • referred to another health practitioner if safe access cannot be facilitated.

Omicron variant

Case numbers have continued to surge across Australia has the omicron variant has become dominant. Although this variant has been reported to be less severe than the delta variant, given the huge increase in the number of cases it is causing an increase in the number of people with serious illness requiring admission to hospital or ICU, and there is ongoing concern regarding the pressure on the health care system.

Given the increased risk, it is important that dental practices continue to screen patients and ensure that staff working attest that they do not have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Face masks

From 11:59pm Thursday 23 December 2021 masks become mandatory indoors (except in the home) for people aged eight and over. 

All staff and patients must continue to wear a face mask in the dental practice to minimise the risk of exposure. A face mask is not required to be worn when the patient is undergoing dental care or treatment to the extent that such care or treatment requires no face mask be worn.

QR Code check-in

All businesses are required to use the free Victorian Government QR Code Service.

Anyone attending a workplace must check in, regardless of how long they spend at the venue. This includes staff, patients and support people or family members, contractors and delivery people.

For patients or visitors without a smart phone, businesses can set-up a kiosk check-in service in the Service Victoria app. This allows businesses to use their own smart phone, tablet or computer to check-in visitors, making it easier to capture their details so that contact tracers can contact people quickly if an outbreak occurs.

Screening

We continue to see exposure events involving dental practices. For this reason, it is important to screen patients prior to attendance at the dental clinic. Patients should continue to be screened for possible COVID-19 symptoms. You should continue to defer all non-urgent dental care for patients who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Screening patients prior to presenting for treatment remains our first line in helping to reduce the risk of exposure in our practices. The template below may assist practices who use SMS appointment confirmation methods and can be adapted to suit your needs. In addition, staff should continue to stay at home and get tested if they have symptoms.

SMS confirmation: Incorporating COVID screening

[Name] your next appointment is on [day, date and time] with Dr [Name]

Please contact us before attending your appointment if any of the following apply. You:

These questions are relevant to anyone accompanying you on the day.

Confirm YES if these do not apply

Masks [are]/[are not] required to be worn in our facility. Lawful exceptions apply

We are happy to answer any questions you have. Contact us on [03] ……..

[Your practice name]

COVIDSafe plans

Every employer in Victoria is required to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place for their workplace. Key messages for employers:

  • Workplaces do not have to lodge their COVIDSafe Plan with the Victorian Government; however, you may be required to provide your COVID Safe Plan to DHS or WorkSafe upon request or in the event of a confirmed positive case at your workplace
  • The COVID Safe Plan template and guidance on creating a COVID Safe workplace can be found here 

The Victorian Government is offering a free, confidential review of your COVIDSafe Plan by professional services firm, Ernst & Young (EY). The review will help to ensure your plan reflects the current COVIDSafe Settings. EY professionals will consider all relevant information, identify any gaps and provide advice on how the plan is being implemented. To book a review, email covidsafeplanreview@djpr.vic.gov.au  with your business name, a contact name and phone number.

Dental practice setting

Any member of the dental team could contract COVID-19 and bring it into the dental practice while they are asymptomatic, and risk spreading it to other members of the team. To reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19:

  • Ensure that team members always maintain adequate distancing where possible, including when they are wearing face masks
  • Consider staggering meal breaks to minimise the number of staff in common areas
  • Do not share drink bottles, and avoid sharing glasses, crockery or cutlery in the workplace unless they are cleaned in a dishwasher on a high heat setting. If there is no dishwasher, ensure that staff can wash and dry their own items
  • Review processes where members of the team may share or touch the same item in the practice, e.g. telephones, keyboards, photocopiers and EFTPOS machines, and minimise shared items where possible. Ensure that staff maintain good hand hygiene in these situations and clean the shared items regularly.
  • Provide a physical barrier between patients and reception staff
  • If you are feeling unwell, get tested, stay home and avoid contact with others

Urgent dental treatment for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases or those in quarantine

Dental Health Services Victoria advises that urgent treatment for confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases should be managed in an acute hospital with an OMFS registrar. These include The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Austin Hospital, Dandenong Hospital, Monash Medical Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, University Hospital Geelong – Barwon, Footscray Hospital – Western Health, and The Royal Children’s Hospital. Learn more here.

Healthcare worker infections

The Victorian Government publishes information and data on healthcare worker infections.

If you or any member of your team has tested positive for COVID-19, please call our Community Relations team on 8825 4600 for a confidential discussion.

Further information

Previous updates