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Surgical face masks – update

In alignment with official Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) guidelines, Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) is currently not issuing emergency supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to general practitioners (GPs), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), and community pharmacies.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, sourcing PPE was challenging due to unprecedented international demand. Reliance on the National Medical Stockpile should only be where commercial supply is unavailable. 
 
Please note that this may change in the future. To view the DoH guidelines which NQPHN operates under, visit the Department of Health website.

For a comprehensive list of readily available commercial sources of PPE (including surgical face masks, P2/N95 masks, eye and face protection, gowns and more) refer to the Queensland Government’s What’s on Offer website that has been designed to connect buyers with suppliers.

Please continue to check this website for COVID-19 updates.

Testing

Testing (PCR) for COVID-19 should be undertaken for anyone in Queensland with:

  • fever (≥37.5°C) OR
  • history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills) OR
  • acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, flu-like symptoms) OR
  • loss of smell or loss of taste.

The person being tested should be isolated pending test results. Further information is available here.

People who have have been to identified contact tracing locations should get tested, regardless of symptoms. Keep up-to-date with the most recent contact tracing information on the Queensland Government website.

To find your closest COVID-19 testing clinic, visit the Queensland Health Testing and Fever Clinics web page.

For the latest clinical practice guidelines in the North Queensland region, please refer to HealthPathways.

It is recommended that testing for COVID-19 is via PCR. There are restrictions that prohibit who can perform point-of-care testing. Please see the following links for further information.

Selected private collection centres conduct COVID-19 specimen collection, please click below to see which centres offer this service:

To find your closest COVID-19 testing clinic visit the Queensland Health Testing and Fever Clinics web page.

The TSANZ/ANZSRS safety criteria are aimed at minimising the exposure to respiratory pathogens for both the worker and staff performing a spirometry test. Click here to access the statement. Other resources related to lung-function and spirometry test are available below:

Infection control

The following resources are available to assist with the management of infection control:

  • Queensland Health fact sheet outlining recommendations for cleaning and disinfection of the environment where people suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection may have been.

For more information, read the Queensland Government guidelines for the assessment and management of patients with suspected COVID-19, and read the latest CDNA National guidelines.

For the latest clinical practice guidelines in the North Queensland region, please refer to HealthPathways.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE for coronavirus (COVID-19) includes surgical masks, particulate filter respirators (such as P2 or N95), gloves, goggles, glasses, face shields, gowns and aprons. Find out who in the health workforce should use PPE, how to use it, and how the Australian Department of Health is managing it through the National Medical Stockpile. Read more.

The risk of COVID-19 community transmission in Queensland was reviewed on 29 June 2021. While the majority of North Queensland remains in the ‘low’ risk category, the Townsville region (including Magnetic Island and Palm Island), as well as other parts of South-East Queensland, have been determined by Queensland's Chief Health Officer to be in the 'moderate' risk category. 

For the latest information about the COVID-19 response in North Queensland, visit the Queensland Health website.

The Australian Government Department of Industry and Science Energies and Resources (DISER) have collated some helpful information to assist organisations with confidence in buying PPE from new suppliers including:

  • what to look for when buying PPE
  • how PPE is regulated/certified
  • keeping your workplace safe
  • knowing your consumer rights and protecting yourself from fraud
  • links to National and State portals to help connect buyers and sellers of PPE.

Download the PPE Buyers Guide.

The Australian Department of Health has advised of the increased evidence of commercial availability of PPE. Therefore, it is expected that practices seek their own commercial supply of PPE before requesting through the National Medical Stockpile (NMS).

For a comprehensive list of readily available commercial sources of PPE (including surgical face masks, P2/N95 masks, eye and face protection, gowns and more) refer to the Queensland Government’s What’s on Offer website that has been designed to connect buyers with suppliers.

For further information about PPE distribution through PHNs nationwide, click here.

Specifically for GPs who are prepared and able to undertake specimen collection in their surgeries. P2/N95 respirators are only required for aerosol generating procedures.

The following online resources are also available about P2/N95 mask fit checking:

Useful links
01 July 2021