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26 November 2021

Infection prevention and control update - 26 November


New IPC guidance for seasonal respiratory infections in health and care settings (including SARS-CoV-2) for winter 2021 to 2022

This week official IPC guidance for health and care settings was updated for winter 2021 to 2022. This supersedes the previous UK IPC Covid-19 guidance for maintaining health services and considers SARS-CoV-2 (including variants of concern) and other seasonal respiratory infections, such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

The guidance states it is important to "ensure appropriate application across different services/sectors". It applies to primary eye care and audiology settings in the UK. The main updated recommendations are:

  • Screening, triaging, and testing for SARS-CoV-2 continues over the winter
  • The universal use of face masks for staff and face masks/coverings for all patients/visitors to remain as an IPC measure (likely to be until at least March/April 2022)
  • Physical distancing should be at least one metre, increasing whenever feasible to two metres (section 6.1 of the guidance).

The following have also changed:

  • The use of high, medium and low-risk Covid-19 specific care pathways have been removed. Care pathways should now be defined locally
  • The section on the 'hierarchy of controls' has been updated to maximum workplace risk mitigation

Please also note that section 6.3.2 gives specific guidance for primary care settings where a patient attends with symptoms of a respiratory infection. The glossary defines this as including symptoms of runny nose, sore throat, cough and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

It is important that members' IPC leads take time to read the updated guidance, brief practice teams, and ensure compliance with recommendations over the winter.

The College of Optometrists will publish updated amber guidance on Monday 29 November to support IPC leads comply with these new IPC measures for winter. We will update members when this is published. 

 

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