Mandatory COVID testing of visitors to WA hospitals will soon be scrapped, as the state begins scaling back pandemic protocols and returning health staff to other clinical duties.
- Hospitals will ease COVID protocols on August 15
- Mandatory negative RATS will be scrapped for most visitors
- Hospital visiting hours will be extended
The state government has released its plan to shift into a “new phase of pandemic response”, which will begin on August 15, and see the state’s protocols shift from a red alert level to blue.
It will see reduced screening requirements to enter hospitals, targeted testing, and changing mask rules for hospital staff.
“In a time when WA has passed its most recent peak of COVID-19, it makes sense to take practical, reasonable measures to free up some burdens,” health minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said.
WA recorded 2,965 new COVID infections on Tuesday, with 358 people in hospital and 11 in intensive care.
The state’s caseload has been trending downwards for weeks after passing a winter peak last month.
Key changes implemented as part of the blue alert level include extending visiting hours, and asymptomatic visitors no longer being required to produce a negative RAT unless visiting high-risk areas or vulnerable patients.
Visitors to hospitals will still need to be vaccinated, or have proof of an exemption, but staff will only be conducting spot checks.
“This is a measured approach to scaling back the COVID response in hospitals, which has been endorsed by the Chief Health Officer, and expert infection control teams from the WA health system,” Ms Sanderson said.
“This is, of course, balanced appropriately with the need to protect our staff, and our most vulnerable patients from serious illness.”
The scaling back of COVID measures comes after WA broke new records in ambulance ramping last month.
Ambulances were parked outside hospitals waiting to transfer patients for 6,983 hours throughout July.
Some COVID measures will remain in place at hospitals, including the two visitors per patient rule, testing of symptomatic patients presenting in emergency departments and for elective surgeries.
All staff will also still need to wear at least a surgical mask, but those working in high-risk areas or caring for vulnerable patients will need to wear particulate filter respirator masks.