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1.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e058580, 2022 Apr 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1788965

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: COVID-19 lockdown measures have challenged people's mental health, especially among economically vulnerable households. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of exposure to COVID-19 shocks (defined as job loss, living cost pressures and changing housing conditions throughout the lockdown period) and double precarity (defined as precarity in housing and employment) on mental health outcomes for members of share households as well as the mediating effects of a range of resources. DESIGN: We conducted a two-wave survey of occupants of share housing in June and October 2020 during a prolonged period of population lockdown. Research design involved fixed effects ordered logit regression models to assess the mental health consequences of baseline precarity and COVID-related shocks. SETTING: Victoria, Australia. PARTICIPANTS: We surveyed 293 occupants of share houses (mean age 34 SD 11.5, 56% female). Members of share houses (where individuals are unrelated adults and not in a romantic relationship) are more likely to be young, casually employed, visa-holders and low-income. OUTCOME MEASURES: We measured household composition, housing and employment precarity, access to government support, household crowding, social networks and COVID-19 shocks. We used a self-reported measure of mental health. RESULTS: Those exposed to COVID-19 shocks reported a 2.7 times higher odds of mental health deterioration (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.53 to 4.85). People exposed to double precarity (precarity in both housing and employment) reported 2.4 times higher odds of mental health deterioration (OR 2.4, 95% CI 0.99 to 5.69). Housing inadequacy and lack of access to sufficient government payments explained 14.7% and 7% of the total effect of double precarity on mental health, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that residents of group households characterised by pre-existing precarity were vulnerable to negative mental health effects during lockdown. Access to sufficient government payments and adequate housing buffered this negative effect.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Shock , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Crowding , Family Characteristics , Female , Housing , Humans , Male , Mental Health , Victoria/epidemiology
2.
PLoS One ; 17(4): e0266650, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1779776

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To determine health impacts during, and following, an extended community lockdown and COVID-19 outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria, compared with the rest of Australia. METHODS: A national cohort of 898 working-age Australians enrolled in a longitudinal cohort study, completing surveys before, during, and after a 112-day community lockdown in Victoria (8 July- 27 October 2020). Outcomes included psychological distress, mental and physical health, work, social interactions and finances. Regression models examined health changes during and following lockdown. RESULTS: The Victorian lockdown led to increased psychological distress. Health impacts coincided with greater social isolation and work loss. Following the extended lockdown, mental health, work and social interactions recovered to an extent whereby no significant long-lasting effects were identified in Victoria compared to the rest of Australia. CONCLUSION: The Victorian community lockdown had adverse health consequences, which reversed upon release from lockdown. Governments should weigh all potential health impacts of lockdown. Services and programs to reduce the negative impacts of lockdown may include increases in mental health care, encouraging safe social interactions and supports to maintain employment relationships.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
3.
Australas Psychiatry ; 30(2): 239-242, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1775218

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: Victoria has low numbers of general adult psychiatric beds per capita by Australian and international standards. Hospital key performance indicators (KPIs) such as bed occupancy rates, emergency department waiting times and inpatient lengths of stay are proximal measures of the effects any shortfall in beds. We investigate the real-world performance of Victorian hospitals during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the extended lockdowns in 2020. CONCLUSIONS: The Victorian inpatient psychiatric system is characterised by high bed occupancies in many regions, extended stays in emergency departments awaiting a bed, and short inpatient lengths of stay, except for patients with excessively long stays on acute units (over 35 days) who are unable to be admitted to non-acute facilities. At the end of 2020, bed occupancies were high (above 90%) in 10 regions, with three regions having bed occupancies over 100%. However, state-wide average bed occupancy improved between 2019 (94%) and 2020 (88%). Other KPIs remained steady because acute hospitals did not experience the expected pandemic mental health demand-surge. For a more complete picture of the impact of the pandemic, Australia needs interconnected, centralised data systems.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control , Hospitals , Humans , Length of Stay , Pandemics , Victoria/epidemiology
4.
BMJ Open ; 12(4): e052733, 2022 Apr 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1774953

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the impacts, on mental and physical health, of a mandatory shift to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: Cross sectional, online survey. SETTING: Online survey was conducted from September 2020 to November 2020 in the general population. PARTICIPANTS: Australian residents working from home for at least 2 days a week at some time in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Demographics, caring responsibilities, working from home arrangements, work-related technology, work-family interface, psychosocial and physical working conditions, and reported stress and musculoskeletal pain. RESULTS: 924 Australians responded to the online questionnaire. Respondents were mostly women (75.5%) based in Victoria (83.7%) and employed in the education and training and healthcare sectors. Approximately 70% of respondents worked five or more days from home, with only 60% having a dedicated workstation in an uninterrupted space. Over 70% of all respondents reported experiencing musculoskeletal pain or discomfort. Gendered differences were observed; men reported higher levels of family to work conflict (3.16±1.52 to 2.94±1.59, p=0.031), and lower levels of recognition for their work (3.75±1.03 to 3.96±1.06, p=0.004), compared with women. For women, stress (2.94±0.92 to 2.66±0.88, p<0.001) and neck/shoulder pain (4.50±2.90 to 3.51±2.84, p<0.001) were higher than men and they also reported more concerns about their job security than men (3.01±1.33 to 2.78±1.40, p=0.043). CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary evidence from the current study suggests that working from home may impact employees' physical and mental health, and that this impact is likely to be gendered. Although further analysis is required, these data provide insights into further research opportunities needed to assist employers in optimising working from home conditions and reduce the potential negative physical and mental health impacts on their employees.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Mental Health , Pandemics , Victoria/epidemiology
5.
BMC Health Serv Res ; 22(1): 381, 2022 Mar 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1759747

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The COVID-19 pandemic has inundated the capacity of hospitals across the globe, exhausting resources, and placing extreme burden on health care workers (HCWs). Hospital preparedness during infectious disease outbreak involves development and implementation of appropriate strategies, procedures, and adequate training for HCWs. Reliable and valid tools to evaluate the perception of HCWs on the effectiveness of hospital preparedness strategies are imperative and literature is yet to fill that gap. METHODS: Items for 'The Staff Questionnaire for Infectious Disease Outbreak Readiness and Preparedness (SQIDORP)' were selected from literature that addressed hospital preparedness during novel pandemic outbreaks. The SQIDORP was distributed within a regional hospital in Victoria, Australia. Psychometric evaluation included estimates of reliability and factor analysis while factors associated with the questionnaire were explored using regression analysis. RESULTS: Omega coefficient of 0.89, Cronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.88 and item-total correlations (> 0.3) indicated adequate reliability of the SQIDORP. Factor Analysis yielded three meaningful latent factors that are effectiveness of training (Factor 1), self-confidence (Factor 2) and risk to self and stress (Factor 3). Demographic factors did not influence the correlation with SQIDORP. However, rating 'the current plan for management of COVID-19 in your ward' and 'personal knowledge/skills in caring for patients with COVID-19' had significant positive correlation and accounted for 33% of the variance in readiness and preparedness using SQIDORP (R2 = 0.33, F = 10.227, P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Most of the items of SQIDORP questionnaire achieved adequate internal consistence reliability. This is a valuable tool that can be utilized by hospitals to explore aspects of preparedness and give insights to the knowledge, skills, and mental health of HCWs, as perceived by the HCW themselves.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Humans , Pandemics , Psychometrics , Reproducibility of Results , Surveys and Questionnaires , Victoria/epidemiology
6.
JAMA Netw Open ; 5(3): e221313, 2022 03 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1733812

ABSTRACT

Importance: The immune response in children with SARS-CoV-2 infection is not well understood. Objective: To compare seroconversion in nonhospitalized children and adults with mild SARS-CoV-2 infection and identify factors that are associated with seroconversion. Design, Setting, and Participants: This household cohort study of SARS-CoV-2 infection collected weekly nasopharyngeal and throat swabs and blood samples during the acute (median, 7 days for children and 12 days for adults [IQR, 4-13] days) and convalescent (median, 41 [IQR, 31-49] days) periods after polymerase chain reaction (PCR) diagnosis for analysis. Participants were recruited at The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, from May 10 to October 28, 2020. Participants included patients who had a SARS-CoV-2-positive nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal swab specimen using PCR analysis. Main Outcomes and Measures: SARS-CoV-2 immunoglobulin G (IgG) and cellular (T cell and B cell) responses in children and adults. Seroconversion was defined by seropositivity in all 3 (an in-house enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [ELISA] and 2 commercial assays: a SARS-CoV-2 S1/S2 IgG assay and a SARS-CoV-2 antibody ELISA) serological assays. Results: Among 108 participants with SARS-CoV-2-positive PCR findings, 57 were children (35 boys [61.4%]; median age, 4 [IQR, 2-10] years) and 51 were adults (28 women [54.9%]; median age, 37 [IQR, 34-45] years). Using the 3 established serological assays, a lower proportion of children had seroconversion to IgG compared with adults (20 of 54 [37.0%] vs 32 of 42 [76.2%]; P < .001). This result was not associated with viral load, which was similar in children and adults (mean [SD] cycle threshold [Ct] value, 28.58 [6.83] vs 24.14 [8.47]; P = .09). In addition, age and sex were not associated with seroconversion within children (median age, 4 [IQR, 2-14] years for both seropositive and seronegative groups; seroconversion by sex, 10 of 21 girls [47.6%] vs 10 of 33 boys [30.3%]) or adults (median ages, 37 years for seropositive and 40 years for seronegative adults [IQR, 34-39 years]; seroconversion by sex, 18 of 24 women [75.0%] vs 14 of 18 men [77.8%]) (P > .05 for all comparisons between seronegative and seropositive groups). Symptomatic adults had 3-fold higher SARS-CoV-2 IgG levels than asymptomatic adults (median, 227.5 [IQR, 133.7-521.6] vs 75.3 [IQR, 36.9-113.6] IU/mL), whereas no differences were observed in children regardless of symptoms. Moreover, differences in cellular immune responses were observed in adults compared with children with seroconversion. Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this cohort study suggest that among patients with mild COVID-19, children may be less likely to have seroconversion than adults despite similar viral loads. This finding has implications for future protection after SARS-CoV-2 infection in children and for interpretation of serosurveys that involve children. Further research to understand why seroconversion and development of symptoms are potentially less likely in children after SARS-CoV-2 infection and to compare vaccine responses may be of clinical and scientific importance.


Subject(s)
Antibodies, Viral/blood , COVID-19/immunology , Immunoglobulin G/blood , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , Adult , Age Factors , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19 Serological Testing , Child , Child, Preschool , Cohort Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Seroconversion , Victoria/epidemiology , Viral Load
7.
BMC Infect Dis ; 22(1): 232, 2022 Mar 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1731519

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In settings with zero community transmission, any new SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks are likely to be the result of random incursions. The level of restrictions in place at the time of the incursion is likely to considerably affect possible outbreak trajectories, but the probability that a large outbreak eventuates is not known. METHODS: We used an agent-based model to investigate the relationship between ongoing restrictions and behavioural factors, and the probability of an incursion causing an outbreak and the resulting growth rate. We applied our model to the state of Victoria, Australia, which has reached zero community transmission as of November 2020. RESULTS: We found that a future incursion has a 45% probability of causing an outbreak (defined as a 7-day average of > 5 new cases per day within 60 days) if no restrictions were in place, decreasing to 23% with a mandatory masks policy, density restrictions on venues such as restaurants, and if employees worked from home where possible. A drop in community symptomatic testing rates was associated with up to a 10-percentage point increase in outbreak probability, highlighting the importance of maintaining high testing rates as part of a suppression strategy. CONCLUSIONS: Because the chance of an incursion occurring is closely related to border controls, outbreak risk management strategies require an integrated approaching spanning border controls, ongoing restrictions, and plans for response. Each individual restriction or control strategy reduces the risk of an outbreak. They can be traded off against each other, but if too many are removed there is a danger of accumulating an unsafe level of risk. The outbreak probabilities estimated in this study are of particular relevance in assessing the downstream risks associated with increased international travel.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
8.
Rural Remote Health ; 21(4): 7043, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1716366

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and has required rapid paradigm changes in the manner in which health care is administered. Previous health models and practices have been modified and changed at a rapid pace. This commentary provides the experiences of a regional Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation in a COVID-19 vaccination program led and managed by Aboriginal Health Practitioners.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , Community Health Services , Health Services, Indigenous , Physician's Role , Vaccination , COVID-19/ethnology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Community Health Services/organization & administration , Health Services, Indigenous/organization & administration , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Vaccination/statistics & numerical data , Victoria/epidemiology
9.
Aust Health Rev ; 45(6): 690-695, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1605240

ABSTRACT

Objective The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia coincided with an early trend of reduced visits to the emergency department (ED), but to determine which patients presented less requires closer evaluation. Identifying which patient groups are presenting less frequently will provide a better understanding of health care utilisation behaviours during a pandemic and inform healthcare providers of the potential challenges in managing these groups. Methods This single-centre retrospective study examined trends in presentations in 2020 to a private, mixed paediatric and adult ED in an inner city suburb within the state of Victoria that treats both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. The 2019 dataset was used as a reference baseline for comparison. All analyses were performed using baseline characteristics and triage data. Results The total number of visits to the ED dropped from 24 775 in 2019 to 22 754 in 2020, representing an overall reduction of 8%. Significant reductions in daily presentations and admissions from the ED were observed in the months immediately following the peak of the two COVID-19 waves in the state of Victoria. Visits by those in the 0- to 17-year age group, triage categories 4 and 5 and musculoskeletal presentations were also reduced for most of 2020. Gastrointestinal/abdominal and urological/renal presentations were reduced immediately after the first COVID-19 wave, whereas infectious diseases visits were reduced during and after the second COVID-19 wave. Conclusions These findings add to the growing body of evidence regarding emergency care underutilisation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduced private ED presentations were observed overall and in paediatric patients, lower acuity triage categories, musculoskeletal, abdominal/gastrointestinal and urological/renal presentations during the first wave, whereas infectious disease cases were reduced during the second wave. What is known about the topic? During the first and second waves of COVID-19 in Victoria, ED visits were reduced in the public sector across all diagnostic categories and all triage categories. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on private ED attendance is less well known. What does this paper add? Total visits to the private ED during the first and second waves of COVID-19 were reduced across all major diagnostic categories except cardiac presentations. During this same period, visits for triage categories 4 and 5 were significantly reduced. What are the implications for practitioners? ED underutilisation during the initial two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic is apparent in both the private and public sector. Patients should be encouraged not to delay seeking urgent medical care during the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Adult , Child , Emergency Service, Hospital , Humans , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
10.
Australas Psychiatry ; 30(2): 229-234, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1556069

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic may cause a major mental health impact. We aimed to identify demographic or clinical factors associated with psychiatric admissions where COVID-19 was attributed to contribute to mental state, compared to admissions which did not. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was undertaken of inpatients admitted to Northern Psychiatric Unit 1, Northern Hospital in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia during 27/02/2020 to 08/07/2020. Data were extracted for participants who identified COVID-19 as a stressor compared to participants who did not. Fisher's exact test and Mann-Whitley rank sum test were used. RESULTS: Thirty six of 242 inpatients reported the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to mental ill health and subsequent admission. Reasons given included social isolation, generalized distress about the pandemic, barriers to support services, disruption to daily routine, impact on employment, media coverage, re-traumatization, cancelled ECT sessions, loss of loved ones, and increased drug use during the lockdown. Chronic medical conditions or psychiatric multimorbidity were positively associated and smoking status was negatively associated with reporting the COVID-19 pandemic as a contributor to mental ill health. CONCLUSION: Screening and identifying vulnerable populations during and after the global disaster is vital for timely and appropriate interventions to reduce the impact of the pandemic worldwide.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Demography , Humans , Inpatients , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
11.
Aust Health Rev ; 45(6): 690-695, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1550420

ABSTRACT

Objective The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia coincided with an early trend of reduced visits to the emergency department (ED), but to determine which patients presented less requires closer evaluation. Identifying which patient groups are presenting less frequently will provide a better understanding of health care utilisation behaviours during a pandemic and inform healthcare providers of the potential challenges in managing these groups. Methods This single-centre retrospective study examined trends in presentations in 2020 to a private, mixed paediatric and adult ED in an inner city suburb within the state of Victoria that treats both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients. The 2019 dataset was used as a reference baseline for comparison. All analyses were performed using baseline characteristics and triage data. Results The total number of visits to the ED dropped from 24 775 in 2019 to 22 754 in 2020, representing an overall reduction of 8%. Significant reductions in daily presentations and admissions from the ED were observed in the months immediately following the peak of the two COVID-19 waves in the state of Victoria. Visits by those in the 0- to 17-year age group, triage categories 4 and 5 and musculoskeletal presentations were also reduced for most of 2020. Gastrointestinal/abdominal and urological/renal presentations were reduced immediately after the first COVID-19 wave, whereas infectious diseases visits were reduced during and after the second COVID-19 wave. Conclusions These findings add to the growing body of evidence regarding emergency care underutilisation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduced private ED presentations were observed overall and in paediatric patients, lower acuity triage categories, musculoskeletal, abdominal/gastrointestinal and urological/renal presentations during the first wave, whereas infectious disease cases were reduced during the second wave. What is known about the topic? During the first and second waves of COVID-19 in Victoria, ED visits were reduced in the public sector across all diagnostic categories and all triage categories. The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on private ED attendance is less well known. What does this paper add? Total visits to the private ED during the first and second waves of COVID-19 were reduced across all major diagnostic categories except cardiac presentations. During this same period, visits for triage categories 4 and 5 were significantly reduced. What are the implications for practitioners? ED underutilisation during the initial two waves of the COVID-19 pandemic is apparent in both the private and public sector. Patients should be encouraged not to delay seeking urgent medical care during the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Adult , Child , Emergency Service, Hospital , Humans , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
12.
Prehosp Disaster Med ; 36(6): 691-696, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1526026

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: As the understanding of health care worker lived experience during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) grows, the experiences of those utilizing emergency health care services (EHS) during the pandemic are yet to be fully appreciated. STUDY OBJECTIVE: The objective of this research was to explore lived experience of EHS utilization in Victoria, Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic from March 2020 through March 2021. METHODS: An explorative qualitative design underpinned by a phenomenological approach was applied. Data were collected through semi-structured, in-depth interviews, which were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using Colaizzi's approach. RESULTS: Qualitative data were collected from 67 participants aged from 32 to 78-years-of-age (average age of 52). Just over one-half of the research participants were male (54%) and three-quarters lived in metropolitan regions (75%). Four key themes emerged from data analysis: (1) Concerns regarding exposure and infection delayed EHS utilization among participants with chronic health conditions; (2) Participants with acute health conditions expressed concern regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their care, but continued to access services as required; (3) Participants caring for people with sensory and developmental disabilities identified unique communication needs during interactions with EHS during the COVID-19 pandemic; communicating with emergency health care workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) was identified as a key challenge, with face masks reported as especially problematic for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing; and (4) Children and older people also experienced communication challenges associated with PPE, and the need for connection with emergency health care workers was important for positive lived experience during interactions with EHS throughout the pandemic. CONCLUSION: This research provides an important insight into the lived experience of EHS utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic, a perspective currently lacking in the published peer-reviewed literature.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Aged , Child , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Patient Acceptance of Health Care , Qualitative Research , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
13.
Aust Health Rev ; 45(6): 675-682, 2021 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1506679

ABSTRACT

Objective To quantify the introduction of new, temporary telehealth Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items delivered by allied mental health professionals (AMHPs) through the Better Access initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Methods MBS-item service data for clinical psychologists, registered psychologists, social workers, and occupational therapists were extracted for existing face-to-face, remote videoconferencing and new, temporary telehealth items for the study period April-December 2020. The total number of services in Australia were compared with the baseline period of 2019. Given the second wave of increased COVID-19 infections and prolonged lockdowns in the state of Victoria, we compared the per capita rate of services for Victoria versus other states and territories. Results During the study period, there was an overall 11% increase in all allied mental health consultations. Telehealth use was substantial with 37% of all sessions conducted by videoconferencing or telephone consultations. The peak month was April 2020, during the first wave of increasing COVID-19 cases, when 53% of consultations were via telehealth. In terms of Victoria, there was an overall 15% increase in all consultations compared with the same period in 2019. Conclusions Allied mental health services via MBS-subsidised telehealth items greatly increased during 2020. Telehealth is an effective, flexible option for receiving psychological care which should be made available beyond the pandemic. What is known about the topic? Little is known about the transition to and delivery of new, temporary Better Access telehealth services by AMHPs during the COVID-19 pandemic. What does this paper add? This paper provides valuable data on the rapid transition to telehealth by AMHPs to provide levels of psychological care commensurate to 2019. Data extends from April to December 2020 and includes the overall number of services provided for each profession, and the proportion of services delivered via face-to-face and telehealth. We highlight the impact of the new, additional items which temporarily raised the cap on sessions. We also illustrate the substantial use of the scheme by those living in Victoria who experienced greater COVID-19-related hardships. What are the implications for practitioners? The continuation of Better Access telehealth services by AMHPs has the potential to extend the reach of mental health care beyond the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Mental Health Services , Telemedicine , Aged , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , National Health Programs , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2 , Victoria/epidemiology
14.
Vaccine ; 39(48): 7052-7057, 2021 11 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1487997

ABSTRACT

Emerging evidence suggest a possible association between immune thrombocytopenia (ITP) and some formulations of COVID-19 vaccine. We conducted a retrospective case series of ITP following vaccination with Vaxzevria ChadOx1-S (AstraZeneca) and mRNA Comirnaty BNT162b2 COVID-19 (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccines and compare the incidence to expected background rates for Victoria during the first six months of the Australian COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in 2021. Cases were identified by reports to the Victorian state vaccine safety service, SAEFVIC, of individuals aged 18 years or older presenting with thrombocytopenia following COVID-19 vaccination without evidence of thrombosis. Twenty-one confirmed or probable cases of ITP were identified following receipt of AstraZeneca (n = 17) or Pfizer-BioNTech (n = 4) vaccines. This translates to an observed incidence of 8 per million doses for AstraZeneca vaccine, twice the expected background rate of 4.1 per million. The observed rate for Pfizer-BioNTech was consistent with the expected background rate. The median time to onset for the cases post AstraZeneca vaccination was 10 days (range 1-78) and median platelet nadir 5 × 109/L (range 0-67 × 109/L). Hospital presentations or admissions for management of symptoms such as bleeding occurred in 18 (86%) of the cases. The majority of cases (n = 11) required intervention with at least 2 therapy modalities. In conclusion, we observed a substantially higher than expected rate of ITP following AstraZeneca vaccination. ITP is the second haematological adverse event, distinct from that of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), observed following AstraZeneca vaccination.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic , Thrombocytopenia , Vaccines , COVID-19 Vaccines , Humans , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic/chemically induced , Purpura, Thrombocytopenic, Idiopathic/epidemiology , Retrospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Vaccination , Victoria/epidemiology
15.
J Paediatr Child Health ; 58(4): 618-623, 2022 Apr.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1480192

ABSTRACT

AIM: Victoria experienced two 'waves' of COVID-19 between March and September 2020 and more cases than any other jurisdiction in Australia. Although world-wide reports of COVID-19 reflect that children are less likely to experience severe disease compared with adults, hospitalisations and deaths have been reported. We report testing and outcomes of children with SARS-CoV-2 infection presenting to a tertiary paediatric hospital in Melbourne. METHODS: We conducted a prospective cohort study at The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH), including all children and adolescents (aged 0-18 years) who presented and were tested for SARS-CoV-2 over a 6-month period, between 21 March 2020, up to the 21 September 2020. Detailed epidemiological and clinical data were recorded. RESULTS: A total of 19 708 tests for SARS-CoV-2 were performed in 14 419 patients. One hundred and eighty patients tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (1.2%). 110 (61%) were symptomatic, 60 (33%) were asymptomatic and 10 (6%) were pre-symptomatic. Close contacts of a positive case were associated with a higher risk of a testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (120/2027 (6%) vs. 60/14589 (0.4%), RD 5.5 (95% CI 4.5 to 6.5), P < 0.001). Eighteen (10%) SARS-CoV-2-positive patients were admitted to hospital with one patient requiring intensive care. All patients recovered fully with no deaths. CONCLUSION: In Victorian children presenting to a tertiary hospital, SARS-CoV-2 infection caused predominantly mild or asymptomatic infection, with most children not requiring hospitalisation.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adolescent , Adult , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Child, Preschool , Hospitals, Pediatric , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Tertiary Care Centers , Victoria/epidemiology
16.
Rural Remote Health ; 21(4): 7043, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1464161

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated communities throughout the world and has required rapid paradigm changes in the manner in which health care is administered. Previous health models and practices have been modified and changed at a rapid pace. This commentary provides the experiences of a regional Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation in a COVID-19 vaccination program led and managed by Aboriginal Health Practitioners.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 Vaccines , Community Health Services , Health Services, Indigenous , Physician's Role , Vaccination , COVID-19/ethnology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines/administration & dosage , Community Health Services/organization & administration , Health Services, Indigenous/organization & administration , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control , Vaccination/statistics & numerical data , Victoria/epidemiology
18.
Lancet Public Health ; 6(8): e547-e556, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1433979

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: A cornerstone of Australia's ability to control COVID-19 has been effective border control with an extensive supervised quarantine programme. However, a rapid recrudescence of COVID-19 was observed in the state of Victoria in June, 2020. We aim to describe the genomic findings that located the source of this second wave and show the role of genomic epidemiology in the successful elimination of COVID-19 for a second time in Australia. METHODS: In this observational, genomic epidemiological study, we did genomic sequencing of all laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Victoria, Australia between Jan 25, 2020, and Jan 31, 2021. We did phylogenetic analyses, genomic cluster discovery, and integrated results with epidemiological data (detailed information on demographics, risk factors, and exposure) collected via interview by the Victorian Government Department of Health. Genomic transmission networks were used to group multiple genomic clusters when epidemiological and genomic data suggested they arose from a single importation event and diversified within Victoria. To identify transmission of emergent lineages between Victoria and other states or territories in Australia, all publicly available SARS-CoV-2 sequences uploaded before Feb 11, 2021, were obtained from the national sequence sharing programme AusTrakka, and epidemiological data were obtained from the submitting laboratories. We did phylodynamic analyses to estimate the growth rate, doubling time, and number of days from the first local infection to the collection of the first sequenced genome for the dominant local cluster, and compared our growth estimates to previously published estimates from a similar growth phase of lineage B.1.1.7 (also known as the Alpha variant) in the UK. FINDINGS: Between Jan 25, 2020, and Jan 31, 2021, there were 20 451 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Victoria, Australia, of which 15 431 were submitted for sequencing, and 11 711 met all quality control metrics and were included in our analysis. We identified 595 genomic clusters, with a median of five cases per cluster (IQR 2-11). Overall, samples from 11 503 (98·2%) of 11 711 cases clustered with another sample in Victoria, either within a genomic cluster or transmission network. Genomic analysis revealed that 10 426 cases, including 10 416 (98·4%) of 10 584 locally acquired cases, diagnosed during the second wave (between June and October, 2020) were derived from a single incursion from hotel quarantine, with the outbreak lineage (transmission network G, lineage D.2) rapidly detected in other Australian states and territories. Phylodynamic analyses indicated that the epidemic growth rate of the outbreak lineage in Victoria during the initial growth phase (samples collected between June 4 and July 9, 2020; 47·4 putative transmission events, per branch, per year [1/years; 95% credible interval 26·0-85·0]), was similar to that of other reported variants, such as B.1.1.7 in the UK (mean approximately 71·5 1/years). Strict interventions were implemented, and the outbreak lineage has not been detected in Australia since Oct 29, 2020. Subsequent cases represented independent international or interstate introductions, with limited local spread. INTERPRETATION: Our study highlights how rapid escalation of clonal outbreaks can occur from a single incursion. However, strict quarantine measures and decisive public health responses to emergent cases are effective, even with high epidemic growth rates. Real-time genomic surveillance can alter the way in which public health agencies view and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks. FUNDING: The Victorian Government, the National Health and Medical Research Council Australia, and the Medical Research Future Fund.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Epidemiologic Studies , Genomics , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Victoria/epidemiology
19.
Public Health Res Pract ; 31(3)2021 Sep 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1399672

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To describe local operational aspects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response during the first three waves of outbreaks in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, which began in January, July and December 2020. Type of program or service: Public health outbreak response. METHODS: Narrative with epidemiological linking and genomic testing. RESULTS: Epidemiological linking and genomic testing found that during the first wave of COVID-19 in NSW, a large number of community transmissions went undetected because of limited testing for the virus and limited contact tracing of cases. The second wave of COVID-19 in NSW emerged following reintroduction from the second wave in Victoria, Australia in July 2020, and the third wave followed undetected introduction from overseas. By the second and third waves, cases could be more effectively detected and isolated through an increased ability to test and contact trace, and to rapidly genomic sequence severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) isolates, allowing most cases to be identified and epidemiologically linked. This greater certainty in understanding chains of transmission resulted in control of the outbreaks despite less stringent restrictions on the community, by using a refined strategy of targeted shutdown, restrictions on cases, their close contacts, identified hotspots and venues of concern rather than a whole of community lockdown. Risk assessments of potential transmission sites were constantly updated through our evolving experience with transmission events. However, this refined strategy did leave the potential for large point source outbreaks should any cases go undetected. [Addendum] A fourth wave that began in Sydney in June 2021 challenged this strategy due to the more transmissible nature of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2. LESSONS LEARNT: A wave of COVID-19 infections can develop quickly from one infected person. The community needs to remain vigilant, adhering to physical distancing measures, signing in to venues they visit, and getting tested if they have any symptoms. Signing out of venues on exit allows public health resources to be used more efficiently to respond to outbreaks.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Adolescent , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19 Testing/methods , Child , Child, Preschool , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Contact Tracing/methods , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Female , Humans , Infant , Infant, Newborn , Male , Middle Aged , New South Wales/epidemiology , Physical Distancing , Public Health , Quarantine/methods , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Victoria/epidemiology , Young Adult
20.
Scand J Immunol ; 94(5): e13100, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1388399

ABSTRACT

The SARS-CoV-2 epidemic infections in Australia during 2020 were small in number in epidemiological terms and are well described. The SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequence data of many infected patients have been largely curated in a number of publicly available databases, including the corresponding epidemiological data made available by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. We have critically analysed the available SARS-CoV-2 haplotypes and genomic sequences in the context of putative deficits in innate immune APOBEC and ADAR deaminase anti-viral responses. It is now known that immune impaired elderly co-morbid patients display clear deficits in interferon type 1 (α/ß) and III (λ) stimulated innate immune gene cascades, of which APOBEC and ADAR induced expression are part. These deficiencies may help explain some of the clear genetic patterns in SARS-CoV-2 genomes isolated in Victoria, Australia, during the 2nd Wave (June-September, 2020). We tested the hypothesis that predicted lowered innate immune APOBEC and ADAR anti-viral deaminase responses in a significant proportion of elderly patients would be consistent with/reflected in a low level of observed mutagenesis in many isolated SARS-CoV-2 genomes. Our findings are consistent with this expectation. The analysis also supports the conclusions of the Victorian government's Department of Health that essentially one variant or haplotype infected Victorian aged care facilities where the great majority (79%) of all 820 SARS-CoV-2 associated deaths occurred. The implications of our data analysis for other localized epidemics and efficient coronavirus vaccine design and delivery are discussed.


Subject(s)
APOBEC Deaminases/genetics , Adenosine Deaminase/genetics , COVID-19 Vaccines/immunology , COVID-19/immunology , RNA-Binding Proteins/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , APOBEC Deaminases/metabolism , Adenosine Deaminase/metabolism , Age Factors , Aged, 80 and over , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/virology , Female , Gene Regulatory Networks , Haplotypes , Humans , Immunity, Innate , Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes , Interferon Type I/genetics , Male , RNA-Binding Proteins/metabolism , Victoria/epidemiology
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