24 Mar 2020
The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is a rapidly changing situation.
The Dental Board of Australia (the Board) acknowledges the important role of dental practitioners in containing the spread of the virus. The Board also recognises the additional strain on dental practitioners, many of whom are anxious and concerned as COVID-19 becomes more widespread.
On 23 March 2020 the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee placed limits on organised gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups. The current response to COVID-19 is to contain the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison subsequently announced that non-essential gatherings are suspended for an initial four weeks to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The Australian Government has described a healthcare setting as an essential indoor gathering.
While services provided by dental practitioners currently fall within this category (an essential indoor gathering), dental practitioners should consider the risk environment and public safety when making decisions about whether to defer non-urgent or elective dental services.
Risk assessments can be used by practitioners to help them decide whether to carry out infection-prone procedures such as those that generate aerosols.
Practitioners are also reminded that they must comply with the Commonwealth and their respective state and territory jurisdictional health directions and guidance about COVID-19.
All dental practitioners must continue to adhere to the Dental Board of Australia's Guidelines for infection control available on the Board’s website.
Dental practitioners providing care must also comply with the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Health Care (2019) published by the National Health and Medical Research Council, especially with regard to:
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, there will be new and regular updates from many important sources, including governments, local health departments and professional organisations, with advice about the emerging needs of the public and how to best meet them.
The Board is working with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) to provide helpful information, including answers to common questions, which is being regularly updated and can be linked to from the Board’s website.
The Board also notes that the Australian Dental Association is making its COVID-19 resources publicly available.
During these unprecedented times, it is important that all dental practitioners look after themselves and each other. Information about general support services is available on the Ahpra website.
The Board is developing a program to support dental practitioners’ wellbeing, which is expected to be launched in the second half of 2020.
If you have any further concerns or questions about any of this information, please contact us on COVID19@ahpra.gov.au.