As we welcome 2022, it’s clear that we are entering a very different phase of COVID-19. As expected, with the rapid increase of cases due to the Omicron variant, the NSW Government has advised new rules and reinstated several restrictions that may impact Living My Way, Members and disability workers.
New Definition of Close Contact
- Close Contact is now defined as people who live with or have stayed in the same household for more than four hours with a person infected with COVID-19 during their infectious period.
- NSW Health is asking people to determine their own risk based on the duration of time spent together and the settings. Read the facts.
- It is important to note you may not be notified by NSW Health. Instead, people are being asked to monitor for symptoms and act accordingly.
- Close Contacts must isolate for seven days after the last exposure to the person infected with COVID-19 regardless of their vaccination status and take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on day six.
- Everyone now has more responsibility to inform those they’ve been in close contact with, either in the two days before they started getting symptoms or tested positive – whichever comes first.
When to take a PCR or Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)
- If you have been in contact briefly with someone who tested positive and is asymptomatic, get a RAT.
- If you have been with someone who tested positive for a few hours, get a PCR ASAP and a RAT on Day 6.
- Testing clinics will now use RAT and PCR tests for Close Contacts and people with symptoms. RATs have been introduced at testing centres to alleviate pressure on the time involved to access and process PCR tests.
- Anyone deemed a Close Contact or is symptomatic can attend a testing clinic where PCR tests and RATs are available for free.
- People who receive a positive RAT result no longer need to confirm their test result via a PCR test. This move is designed to take pressure off strained pathology services used to screen PCR swabs.
- COVID positive cases will no longer need to undertake a RAT on Day 6 before leaving self-isolation, provided they are asymptomatic.
We are also conscious that there is a shortage of RATs. New supplies of the RAT kits are expected in the next few weeks but we recommend that you contact the pharmacy first to check for stock availability before heading to buy it. Check out this new site – Find a RAT.
We will continue to do our part in advocating the availability of free RATs for people with disability. In the meantime, the NSW government have announced that up to 10 free RATs over three months will be available through pharmacies for Concession Card holders, including Commonwealth Senior Card, low income, pension concession and DVA gold or white cards.
When the RAT Result is Positive
- If your RAT is a positive result, treat it as you would a positive PCR test result and isolate according to the rules – isolate for seven days immediately and inform everyone you have been in contact with. You can only leave self-isolation after seven days if you do not have a sore throat, runny nose, cough or shortness of breath. We highly recommend taking another RAT test before leaving self-isolation to reduce spread.
- Everyone MUST now declare positive RAT results to Service NSW. A new reporting system will allow people to log positive RAT results via the Service NSW app, available this week.
- If you have a chronic condition and test positive for COVID-19, call the NSW Health COVID-19 Care at Home Support Line on 1800 960 933 for further medical assistance in managing COVID-19.
Notify Living My Way of Positive Infections
- As registered disability service providers, we are obligated to notify the NDIS Commission of positive COVID-19 infections includes infections identified through any test – either a PCR or RAT.
- Members must inform Living My Way if tested positive with a RAT or PCR test.
- For Members who employ their own Support Workers, please also notify Living My Way if they test positive.
- If you tested positive with a RAT, you must also log your positive result in the Service NSW app as we don’t have access to your account.
Prevention is still the most effective way to not get sick.
Frequent hand washing and sanitising, plus wearing a properly fitted mask when interacting with people, vaccination and avoiding high-risk places for at least three days, are still highly recommended as ways to prevent spread and infection.
We would like to remind you that FREE vaccine boosters are now available across NSW to all individuals who received their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine four months or more ago and are recommended to help maintain a high level of protection against COVID-19. It is especially important to give you extra protection against the Omicron variant. Booster vaccines are available at vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies. Find your nearest booster vaccination here – Booster vaccination | NSW Government
As a disability service provider, we are also reviewing our obligations regarding continuity of critical supports and reviewing outbreak management and business continuity plans so that we stay on top of the ever-changing environment.
Due to circumstances, we have decided to keep our Menai office closed until 14 February 2022 to reduce the risk of spread and infection of COVID-19. We are still operating as per usual but working remotely. You can reach us at any time within our business office hours. The office will be accessible for essentials only. If you are a Member and would like to meet with someone at the office to meet with one of our staff, please make an appointment. Call 02 8525 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.