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Healthcare workers may have been infected in staff training session

In her email to staff, Professor Kilpatrick wrote the hospital was determined to push ahead with its August 8 “go-live” date for the new digital record system, and would “continue to work towards” this deadline under the advice of its Infection Prevention and Surveillance Service team.

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The same team was “providing support to those close contacts, and any staff, patients or visitors who may have been affected have been informed,” the email said. “Your safety, as always, is our highest priority.”

The two nurses infected with COVID-19 worked in separate facilities at the Parkville hospital complex, with one employed at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the other at the nearby Royal Women’s Hospital.

Health authorities are yet to confirm whether the training room was the source of either infection.

“It is normal to feel anxious, concerned or uneasy about this rapidly-changing situation… Please continue to take care of yourselves, and each other.”

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Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd on Monday flagged potential changes to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s advice on the use of masks in hospitals, which “may be expected to change” as the expert body reviewed the scientific evidence.

Professor Kilpatrick referred worried staff to the hospital’s COVID-19 Staff Support and Wellbeing phone line.

A staff forum on the Royal Melbourne staff infections was scheduled for 1.30pm on Tuesday.

A hospital spokeswoman said in a statement that the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital “are providing support to two nurses who have tested positive for COVID-19” and who attended two separate electronic medical record training sessions.

“Any staff, patients or visitors who may have been affected have been informed,” the statement said.

“We are working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and others to implement all appropriate safety measures, including additional cleaning, reduced attendee numbers and appropriate personal health measures.”

The spokeswoman said there were no plans to delay the start date of the new electronic medical record system.

The Victorian health department did not respond to a request for comment before deadline.

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