NT and COVID-19

Chief Health Officer (CHO) Direction No. 55 making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for certain workers – 13 October

The Association has been advised that this direction cover speech pathologists who are likely to work with or provide services to vulnerable people including:

  • children under 12,
  • anyone with a disability,
  • anyone in aged care,
  • anyone who is immune compromised.

More detail is available online.

Lockdown restrictions to change in NT

The lockdown in the Greater Darwin Area ends at 12 pm on Thursday 19 August, while the lockdown in Katherine remains until 12 pm Friday 20 August 2021. Read more… 

If you live in Greater Darwin there are no restrictions on the reasons to leave home but some restrictions will remain in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in community. These will be reviewed in seven days on 26 August 2021.

A quick summary of those restrictions is below:

  • Travel will be permitted across the Territory but restrictions continue to apply if you travel outside of the former Greater Darwin lockdown area.
  • Face masks must be worn when you are unable to physically distance. Workers who come into close contact with patrons, or who work in crowded environments will need to wear a mask.
  • The Territory Check-In App is mandatory for business, organisations and places. Customers and visitors must check-in every time, no matter how long they are there for.
  • Private gathering of up to 10 people at a time in homes are allowed.
  • Restaurants, cafes and pubs will re-open for seated service only. Patrons will be required to wear a mask when at the bar. Dance floors will remain closed. Markets will remain closed.
  • Non-contact sports are permitted. Indoor exercise including at gyms, Zumba, barre, pilates and yoga studios will remain closed.
  • Schools and childcare centres will open for learning from tomorrow. Children in Middle School and Senior School will be required to wear a mask, but those students at primary school who are under 12 years are encouraged but not required to.

Taking these next steps will continue to provide protection to NT communities while we review and monitor the situation.

All Allied Health practitioners in the NT are urged to continue to observe physical distancing, hand hygiene, surface sanitising, use of Territory Check in app and wearing of masks in their clinics for both staff and clients.

Note the wording of the CHO Direction 45 in regard to face mask has changed and is now more generic: “'is requested by a health practitioner to remove the face mask in order to enable the practitioner to administer treatment to the person; or…’

Group exercises classes are not supported until at least 26 August 2021.

Chief Allied health Officer indicates what ‘critical clinical care’ means

The Chief Allied Health Officer has indicated critical clinical care means:

  1. to prevent a significant change or deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs; or
  2. to provide assessment and diagnostic services to clients or patients for whom, if care is delayed, it is likely to result in adverse health outcomes (including access to diagnostic imaging services or assessment for prescription of assistive equipment and technology); or
  3. to provide services that are essential as part of a broader plan of care with a medical practitioner; or
  4. to provide services that are part of a conservative management plan to avoid or delay elective surgery (as agreed with the treating team); or
  5. to provide services immediately following elective surgery that prevent secondary complications or aid functional recovery (as agreed with the treating team).

Example for definition critical clinical care, paragraph (a)

An increase in frequency of treatment needed, an increased need for prescription medication due to a significant increase in pain, requirement for specialist input or review, an increase in care needs, or a substantial increase to anticipated recovery time associated with a delay in receiving services.

Example for definition critical clinical care, paragraph (b) is fitting a brace post-surgery.

COVID-19: Lockdown restrictions in place in NT - 16 August

Effective from 12.01 pm Monday 16 August 2021, the following areas will enter a full lockdown for 72 hours:

  • City of Darwin
  • City of Palmerston
  • Litchfield Council
  • Wagait Shire
  • Belyuen Shire
  • Dundee
  • Bynoe
  • Charlotte
  • Cox Peninsula
  • Municipality of Katherine including Tindal

Read conditions relating to the NT lockdown.

Alice Springs will go into lockdown – 30 June

Alice Springs will go into lockdown for 72 hours as of 1 pm on 30 June 2021.

Extension to NT lockdown – 28 June

The NT Government has announced an extension of lockdown for a further 72 hours.

Chief Health Officer clarification, re scope of critical clinical care

The Chief Health Officer has provide clarification as a guide for the scope of critical clinical care for ambulatory care services. This information clarifies information provided below.

All AHPRA-registered health workers – and in addition – social work, speech pathology, dietetics, audiology, exercise physiology, orthotists and prosthetists.

For this purpose, critical clinical care is defined as:

  • to prevent a significant change/deterioration in functional independence which would result in an escalation of care needs (e.g. an increase in frequency of treatment needed, an increased need for prescription medication due to a significant increase in pain, requirement for specialist input or review, an increase in care needs, and/or a substantial increase to anticipated recovery time associated with a delay in receiving services).
  • to provide assessment and diagnostic services to clients / patients whose care have been delayed as a result of previous restrictions, with any further delay likely to result in deterioration in functional independence or adverse health outcomes (including access to diagnostic imaging services or assessment for prescription of assistive equipment and technology)
  • to provide services that are essential as part of a broader plan of care with a medical practitioner (e.g. fitting a brace post-surgery)
  • to provide services that are part of a conservative management plan to avoid or delay elective surgery (as agreed with treating team)
  • to provide services immediately following elective surgery that prevent secondary complications or aid functional recovery (as agreed with treating team).

Essential health services – Northern Territory lockdown

Information relating to the lockdown in parts of the Northern Territory is available online.

Health services provided in a hospital Emergency Department, by a General Practitioner or at a hospital radiology service; medical procedures or services that relate to the following:

  • procedures and surgical treatment by a dentist in an authorised public health care centres in the management of patients with facial swelling due to infection, facial trauma or severe unrelenting pain;
  • procedures to complete a cycle of IVF treatment that was commenced before the implementation of these Directions or any procedure required for the preservation of eggs for future IVF which is required to prevent eggs from becoming non-viable;
  • surgical termination of pregnancy;
  • drug or alcohol services;
  • allied health services provided allied health professionals when providing critical clinical care;
  • mental health services.

The Association has not received any updates but may receive additional information. In the interim, members should consider the guidance that has come around COVID-19 past events in other states which have indicated that critical care is care where it would result in the deterioration of the person’s health (and result in an escalation of care of needs).

If a service can be delivered via telehealth then this is the best option.

The NT government have also indicated that an employee or contractor engaged by any of the following businesses or undertakings is an essential worker for the purposes of these Directions:

  • childcare, early childhood education, primary and secondary schools and tertiary education. SPA will endeavour to get further clarification about this tomorrow to confirm it relates to speech pathologists.

Where a member is planning to deliver an in-person services they are strongly recommend to review the Association's: