24 November 2021
The Government has published new Infection Prevention & Control (IPC) guidance for seasonal respiratory infections in healthcare settings, including SARS-CoV-2, for winter 2021 to 2022.
The main changes to the previous guidance include:
- removal of the 3 COVID-19 specific care pathways (high, medium and low). This is in response to stakeholder feedback and to facilitate local application of the guidance by organisations/employers. The use of, or requirement for, care pathways should be defined locally
- addition of a section on the criteria to be applied within the ‘hierarchy of controls’ to further support organisations/services with maximum workplace risk mitigation
- recommendation for universal use of face masks for staff and face masks/ coverings for all patients/visitors to remain as an IPC measure within health and care settings over the winter period. This is likely to be until at least March/April 2022
- recommendation that physical distancing should be at least 1 metre, increasing whenever feasible to 2 metres across all health and care settings
- recommendation that physical distancing should remain at 2 metres where patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection are being cared for or managed
- recommendation that screening, triaging and testing for SARS-CoV-2 continues over the winter period. Testing for other respiratory pathogens will depend on the health and care setting according to local / country-specific testing strategies / frameworks and data.
It is expected that a revised version of the dental appendix to the IPC guidance will be published soon.