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Disability support workers included in expanded COVID-19 testing

8 April, 2020

Testing for COVID-19 has been expanded for disability support workers and others providing care to someone with a disability. The recent move brings more security to people giving or receiving in-home and community support.

Symptoms listed by the self assessment tool include fever and signs of acute respiratory infection such as shortness of breath, a cough, or a sore throat.

Disability support workers who report fever, coughs or sore throats are more likely to be tested for COVID-19, under expanded guidelines adopted over the past week by the Victorian Government.

The Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Interactive Self-Assessment online tool now carries instructions explicitly for people working in disability care.

The instructions apply to all carers, whether paid or unpaid.

They recommend that any carer who shows a symptom consistent with a case of COVID-19 stop working, report their symptoms, and follow advice on whether and how to get tested for coronavirus.

Symptoms listed by the self assessment tool include fever and signs of acute respiratory infection such as shortness of breath, a cough, or a sore throat.

The tool's reporting advice is to call the Coronavirus Hotline, your doctor, or a hospital emergency department.

The possibility of more changes makes the self-assessment tool, at the Department of Health and Human Services Victoria website, a key resource for anyone feeling unwell.

Updates have also been made to the Australian Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptom Checker. It offers similar advice tailored to the Australian State where you live.

The expansion means disability support workers and other carers who report relevant symptoms are likely to be tested, even where they have not been overseas or in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Annie Lillywhite, Executive Manager Services & Service Experience with AQA Victoria, said this was a great development, and a step towards recognising the implications COVID-19 had for AQA clients and other people in the AQA community.

"It is also great to see disability support workers now being recognised as frontline essential workers, and to see governments recognising disability in their responses," she said

Advice at the interactive self-assessment tool says carers who test negative for COVID-19 can return to work after their doctor agrees that they are no longer sick.

Some symptoms of COVID-19 are also symptoms of seasonal flu. Victorians have been encouraged to get a flu vaccination this year.

Seasonal flu shots for 2020 became available this month. The vaccination is by injection, and you can get one from your doctor, a flu clinic, or even from trained nurses engaged by some pharmacies.

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