02 March 2022

COVID-19 update State-wide hospital alert system moves to 'red' as part of COVID-19 response

The WA health system is transitioning all public hospitals within Western Australia to a ‘red’ hospital alert phase based on widespread community transmission of COVID-19.

Hospitals will begin the transition to today and will be in full ‘red’ phase by close of business on Thursday 3 March – to coincide with the full border opening.

Dr Andrew Robertson, Chief Health Officer, said that the COVID-19 Framework for System Alert and Response (SAR) was an internal strategy supporting a coordinated risk management approach.

“The SAR has four risk ratings – green, amber, red and black which help equip health services to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission and help deliver appropriate care and safety for patients, staff and visitors,” Dr Robertson said.

“At red level, health service providers will take a range of steps to manage the increased risk of COVID-19 transmission and reduce impacts within hospitals as much as possible, while protecting future service delivery.”

These actions, which will also be communicated to patients, include:

  • reduced number of Category 2 and 3 elective surgeries at public hospitals (from 14 March 2022) and some larger private hospitals (from 21 March 2022)
  • increased use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across all areas within healthcare facilities and community-based care, including the use of N95 masks for healthcare workers across all clinical areas
  • increased use of rapid antigen tests (RATs) for all patients attending hospital, including the requirement for all essential visitors, carers, parents and guardians to undertake a RAT on each visit to a high-risk setting, such as transplant, haematology, oncology, renal dialysis units or wards.
  • extended use of telehealth for outpatient services and deferral of non-urgent face-to-face services where clinically safe
  • ·voluntary RATs three times a week for healthcare workers who regularly work with high risk patients
  • healthcare workers who work in higher exposure areas (as per ‘amber’ SAR) will no longer be required to undertake regular RATs due to the widespread use of N95 masks, however a transition period of two weeks will be in place for staff who would like to continue to do RATs
  • public hospital visits to be restricted to approved essential visitors or those with exemptions under the COVID-19 Public Hospital Visitor Guidelines

Some exemptions – considered on a case-by-case basis – for essential visitors may be granted in circumstances including visits on compassionate or palliative care grounds, as well as for maternity or child patients, and patients with a disability.

Dr Robertson said that while these measures may be inconvenient or upsetting for some people, they were necessary to help keep hospital patients – among the most vulnerable in our community – safe.

“The WA health system thanks all staff, patients and visitors for their ongoing support of WA’s hospital system to manage our COVID-19 response, in what is recognised as a very challenging time,” Dr Robertson said.



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