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COVID-19 update for carers in NSW

Fri, 07 Jan

Carers NSW is closely monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the ongoing government response and the wide ranging impacts it has on carers. Below is our latest COVID-19 information and resources for carers.

*Last updated 25 January 2022

Managing COVID-19 at home

As COVID-19 becomes more present in the community, it is increasingly important for family and friend carers to prepare to manage safely at home if they or the person that they care for contracts COVID-19.

Carers NSW newly developed guide, ‘Managing COVID-19 at home: A guide for family and friend carers’ includes a range of downloadable resources, as well as information about COVID-19 testing, how to self-isolate safely, and dealing with the practical challenges of self-isolation.

Carers can download the guide along with other COVID-19 resources on the Carer Resources page of our website.

COVID-19 vaccination

NSW Chief Health Officer, Kerry Chant, continues to strongly recommend people book their COVID-19 vaccination, including their booster shots, as soon as possible. This is particularly important for people aged over 65 and people with chronic health conditions.

From Friday 21 January 2022, people in NSW can access a booster vaccination three months after their second dose at any of the 40 health run vaccine hubs. GPs and pharmacies will be able to provide a booster shot to people with an interval of 3 months between their second dose and booster vaccination from the 31 January 2022.

Children aged 5-11 years old became eligible from 10 January 2022.

People are encouraged to access vaccinations through the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder, or by contacting the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

New safety measures introduced

On 7 January 2022, the NSW Premier announced a number of precautionary measures which will be in place from 8 January 2022 until 28 February 2022, when further advice will be provided. For a full list of the changes visit the NSW Government website.

In addition to these precautions:

  • People are asked to continue to use common sense in limiting large household gatherings and gather outdoors where possible
  • Elective “non-urgent” surgeries will be suspended until mid-February, at which time this will be reviewed

Testing requirements

A number of recent changes have been made in relation to COVID-19 testing in the community:

  • If a person tests positive on a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), they will no longer be required to obtain a PCR test to confirm that result. Public health orders were updated on 12 January 2022 to include a mandate that people report their positive RAT results via Service NSW, linking those impacted with health care and advice about how they can manage their symptoms from home. See the section below on 'Reporting a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) result' or visit the NSW Government website for more information.
  • In the coming weeks as RAT supply is increased, people can access a PCR test if they are unable to locate a RAT test. People should follow the advice on eligibility for PCR testing to determine if this is appropriate, and are encouraged to share unused tests among family members and friends to utilise existing stock while accessing tests remains challenging. Anyone who is unable to afford a RAT can access a free PCR test at their nearest testing clinic.

Determining whether you are a positive case of COVID-19 is as follows:

  • If you receive a positive RAT result and have symptoms, you are a confirmed case of COVID-19 and must self-isolate for 7 days along with your household members
  • If you receive a positive RAT result and have been exposed to COVID-19, you are a confirmed case of COVID-19 and must self-isolate for 7 days along with your household members
  • If you receive a positive RAT result but have not experienced symptoms or exposure, you can confirm your result using another RAT or by accessing a PCR test

More information on when and how to take a RAT is available on the NSW Government website.

Reporting a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) result

The NSW Premier has announced that from 12 January 2022, people in NSW must register a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) result with Service NSW. People can also choose to register a positive RAT result received since 1 January 2022 until now through Service NSW.

You can register a positive RAT result for you or the person that you care for through:

  • the Service NSW app via the 'COVID-19 resources' section
  • the Service NSW website, or
  • contacting Service NSW on 13 77 88 for support with registering a positive RAT test

If you require free help from Service NSW in your language, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 and ask them to contact Service NSW on 13 77 88.

During the registration process you will be able to log your medical information such as a pre-existing health condition or disability. Based on the information provided at registration, those deemed at high risk will be contacted by NSW Health within 48 hours who will provide support and information. If you experience any severe symptoms, such as breathlessness or fainting, you should contact 000 for emergency assistance.

In addition, people will now be receiving notification about their de-isolation date so they can feel confident to leave isolation and return into the community.

Free rapid antigen tests for concession holders

On the 5 January 2022, National Cabinet agreed that RATs would be provided free to concession holders with the following cards:

  • Pension Concession Card
  • Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
  • Health Care Card
  • Low Income Health Card

If you are a concession card holder, you can visit your local pharmacy to retrieve a maximum of five tests per month, or ten tests over three months.

COVID-19 isolation requirements

As of 31 December 2021, the following isolation requirements are in place for confirmed COVID-19 cases and those identified as close contacts:

Isolation period for confirmed COVID-19 cases

People who are confirmed to have COVID-19 must:

  • Isolate for 7 days from the date that they took the test that returned a positive result.
  • If they still have symptoms on day 7, take another test and remain in isolation until they receive a negative result.
  • Avoid high risk settings, such as hospitals and aged care facilities, for a further 3 days after the isolation period

Close contacts

A close contact is now defined as a household contact or household-like contact of confirmed cases. This includes spending more than 4 hours with that person in a house, accommodation or care facility setting.

If you are a close contact:

  • Obtain a test as soon as possible and isolate for 7 days from the day of exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Take a RAT on day 6 of isolation, and only leave isolation on day 7 if this result is negative. If the RAT result is positive, remain in isolation until you receive a negative result
  • Avoid high risk settings, such as hospitals and aged care facilities, for a further 7 days after the isolation period

Masks and QR code check-ins reintroduced

On 23 December 2021, the NSW Premier announced new COVID-19 restrictions in response to the rising number of cases across NSW.

Below are the key changes that are particularly relevant to carers. Additional detail can be found on the NSW Government website.

These changes apply to everyone in NSW, including people who are fully vaccinated (two doses of COVID-19 vaccine received), people who are not fully vaccinated and those with medical exemptions.

Masks
From 12.01am Friday, 24 December, masks are required in all indoor settings (except in private homes). Masks are strongly encouraged where you cannot maintain a safe distance from others

QR code check-ins
• From 12.01am Monday, 27 December 2021, QR code check-ins are compulsory, including for hospitality and retail venues.
• If you receive a notification from Service NSW after checking-in to a venue, follow the advice provided in the notification.

These measures will remain in place until 28 February 2022, unless otherwise specified.

The NSW Government is also asking people, over the holiday period, to reduce mingling where they can including when eating and drinking, work from home where possible and hold events outside to minimise the spread of COVID-19.

Tailored information for carers

Carers NSW will continue to provide updates via the News page of our website and via our Facebook page. Resources developed by Carers NSW to support carers to manage the practical and emotional challenges of caring through COVID-19, are available on our Carer Resources page, using the search term 'COVID'.