Update on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

As we are all aware, developments relating to the COVID-19 outbreak have been evolving on a daily basis and certainly since the last Notice from the Dental Council of NSW (17 March 2020) a little over a week ago.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), is the key decision making committee for health emergencies and is comprised of all State and Territory Chief Health Officers and chaired by the Australian Chief Medical Officer. This committee has been advising the National Cabinet on the options for the progressive scale up of some actions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The AHPPC has now recommended the adoption of ‘Managing COVID-19 Guidelines’ published by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) and further the AHPPC recommends that all dental practices implement Level 3 restrictions as outlined in the ADA’s guidance document.

The Level 3 restrictions are aimed at:

- Preventing further spread of COVID-19 in the community

- Restricting provision of dental services to reduce transmission risks for COVID-19

- Reducing the burden on medical primary care and emergency services.

Under Level 3 restrictions, only dental treatments that do not generate aerosols, or where treatments generating aerosols are limited to a number of situations as described in the ADA’s guidelines noted above.   The Council strongly recommends that you access this important guidance document

The Council reiterates the need for dental practitioners to ensure that they continue to fulfil their obligations relating to infection control when practising and comply with the Dental Board of Australia’s Guidelines on Infection Control.  We have an obligation to ensure patient safety – as well as our own safety and that of our staff.

We acknowledge that the spread of COVID-19 is affecting all of us and that there is a heightened feeling of stress and anxiousness wherever we turn.   

At this time we need to ensure that we are looking after ourselves and that we continue to support each other. As many of you will be aware, in its communication emailed to all practitioners on 24 March 2020, the Dental Board of Australia made reference to the general support services available to practitioners.

I cannot emphasise enough the need for us to continue engaging with family, friends, colleagues and, if required, support services at this difficult time.  We must also continue to adhere to the government recommendations that are in place to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Conjoint Associate Professor F. Shane Fryer OAM

Useful links:

Australian Government Department of Health

NSW Health

Dental Board of Australia