Coronavirus (COVID-19) and 2020 influenza season - Letter from the Chief Medical Officer

On Wednesday 26 February 2020, the Chief Medical Officer wrote to residential aged care providers addressing the importance of infection control and health emergency planning in residential aged care. 

26 Feb 2020

While the number of cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) is currently small in Australia, it is possible this could change and residential aged care providers need to plan and be prepared for this.


The Chief Medical Officer reminds residential aged care providers that they should:

  • Implement an infection control program in line with national guidelines; and
  • Establish protocols to manage any health emergencies that arise.


The letter indicates that an emergency plan would consider factors such as:

  • First steps if infection is suspected or identified (e.g. seeking medical assessment, diagnosis and contact with local public health officials, if needed);
  • Arrangements to ensure adequate care of the infected individual (e.g. staffing, isolation/quarantine within the facility, medical care, further liaison with public health officials);
  • Protection measures for other residents, visitors and staff; and
  • Notification advice to families, carers and relevant authorities.

ACSA has contacted the Department of Health requesting practical advice for providers, including what to do if they have difficulty accessing personal protective equipment such as masks. These issues are currently under consideration and will advise within the next week or two. ACSA will provide members with further updates as more information is shared.


2020 influenza season

The Chief Medical Officer also emphasises that vaccination for all residents, staff and volunteers is particularly important this year - all people aged 65 and over are eligible for the free influenza vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (available from April 2020).


More information on the coronavirus

For more information including links to World Health Organization and Department of Health resources, visit ACSA’s Emergency Planning website.


State and Territory advice

Australian Capital Territory Department of Health

ACT Health – (02) 5124 9213 or after hours (02) 9962 4155

New South Wales Department of Health

NSW Health – 1300 066 055
View media release from NSW Government: 'Community urged to help prevent coronavirus'

Northern Territory Department of Health

Department of Health Northern Territory – (08) 8922 8044

Queensland Department of Health

Queensland Health – 13 432 584

South Australian Department of Health

SA Health – 1300 232 272

Tasmanian Department of Health

Department of Health and Human Services Tasmania – 1800 671 738

Victorian Department of Health

Department of Health and Human Services Victoria – 1800 675 398

Western Australian Department of Health

WA Health – Contacts available here


As this is an evolving situation, advice from the Department of Health will be provided to members as soon as we receive updates.

If you require more information or support, please contact the ACSA Member Support line on 1300 877 855 or email


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