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Elective dental procedures to restart in Australia as restrictions ease

By Brendan Day, DTI
April 29, 2020

SYDNEY, Australia: Thanks to Australia’s success in limiting the number of new SARS-CoV-2 cases each day, the national government announced last week that restrictions would be decreased from Level 3 to Level 2. The change came into effect on 27 April and will allow Australian dental professionals to recommence providing a number of common treatments.

Under the Level 3 restrictions, most elective surgeries were temporarily suspended to allow hospitals to dedicate more resources to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mandatory measures such as social distancing and border closures have proved to be quite effective in reducing the disease’s transmission throughout the country, however. According to the World Health Organization, Australia has 6,738 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 29 April and last recorded more than 100 new cases in a single day on 11 April.

ADA offers practical advice

As it has done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) was quick to provide guidance on what dental professionals may and may not do under Level 2 restrictions. While procedures such as elective dental implant treatment and ultrasonic scaling are still to be postponed, a range of treatments, including routine examinations, hand scaling and simple, non-invasive fillings, can now be conducted provided that existing SARS-CoV-2 infection control measures are followed.

Furthermore, Australian dental professionals who currently have less than a week’s worth of protective masks can access an emergency stockpile recently secured by the ADA.

“I know that this is not a regular return to business, and for some, it may feel like a small step, but this is actually a great leap given the circumstances the whole world is facing,” remarked Dr Carmelo Bonanno, president of the ADA, in a video message to the association’s members. “It’s a chance for a lot of us to start to rebuild and return to what we do best.”

“If a second wave of COVID-19 presents itself, there may be a change in restrictions. But for now, we’ll be surveilling the landscape and making sure that we’re all staying safe until there is a break in this pandemic,” Bonanno added.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also announced a slight easing of restrictions. (Image: photocosmos1/Shutterstock)

New Zealand also relaxes lockdown

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country has managed to stop community transmission of SARS-CoV-2. As a result, restrictions have been dropped from Level 4 to Level 3, meaning that certain non-essential businesses have been given permission to resume trading.

The Dental Council of New Zealand (Te Kaunihera Tiaki Niho) has released a guidance page for oral health practitioners unsure about what services they can offer patients under Level 3 restrictions. Unlike in Australia, New Zealand dentists are still unable to provide routine care and will continue to be limited to delivering only urgent or emergency treatment until the guidelines are reviewed again in two weeks’ time.

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