COVID-19 - Notifying the department of positive COVID-19 cases at export registered establishments (2020-03)
Date of issue: 28 July 2020
Date of effect: Immediate
Reference Number: IAN 2020-13
- Industry bodies and Consultative Committees
- Registered export manufacturing establishments
- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources—Central and Regional offices
To notify export registered dairy, egg and/or seafood establishments of the department’s request to receive direct notification from establishments of COVID-19 cases associated with their premises.
Summary of key points
The department is continuing to monitor the changing COVID-19 situation in Australia and the risks to personnel safety and export market access if positive cases are identified at export registered establishments.
This notice details the department’s request for export registered establishments to promptly notify the department of any positive COVID-19 cases identified at or associated with their premises. This notice is relevant for export registered establishments preparing and/or storing dairy, egg and/or fish products for export.
Maintaining safety for visiting regulatory personnel
With the concerning increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases over recent weeks in Victoria and New South Wales, the department is committed to prioritising the safety of all people, including its staff required to visit establishments to carry out official duties. The extent of community transmission of COVID-19 across other parts of the country remains unclear, and the department will monitor this situation vigilantly in the interests of staff safety.
Under current requirements, all positive COVID-19 cases are notified through the state or territory health authorities, where contact tracing is undertaken and instructions/supervision are provided around deep clean, mandatory isolation and follow-up risk mitigation activities.
Information dissemination takes time and without receiving a similarly prompt notification directly from the establishment, the department may not have the information it needs to make an informed decision about the risks of conducting onsite activities, as well as managing enquiries from overseas trading partners.
Managing export market access issues in response to COVID-19 cases
While COVID-19 is not considered a food safety concern, some uncertainties have been circulating globally through the media around the potential for the virus to be transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as food packaging. There is currently no evidence to indicate that this mode of transmission has occurred, however the global scrutiny of COVID-19 prevention and management strategies in place at establishments preparing food for export has intensified.
Australian domestic media sources are being monitored more closely by overseas authorities for information on potential outbreaks of COVID-19 at establishments preparing food for export. Establishments need to notify the department of positive COVID-19 cases at their premises to ensure cooperative management of the response with the establishment and to consider if further notifications to importing country authorities would be required and appropriate.
The department requests that the occupiers of all export establishments consider the issues outlined in this notice, and to notify the department of any positive COVID-19 cases associated with their premises as soon as possible. Occupiers are advised to contact MeatEstabCOVIDreporting@agriculture.gov.au to provide notifications.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation with this request.
Contact Dairy Eggs Fish if you have any queries.
The information provided in this advice is current at the time of writing and is intended for use as guidance only and should not be taken as definitive or exhaustive. The Commonwealth endeavours to keep information current and accurate, however, it may be subject to change without notice. Exporters are encouraged to verify these details with their importers prior to undertaking production/exports. The Commonwealth will not accept liability for any loss resulting from reliance on information contained in this notice.