CV. Infection prevention and control during health care when coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is suspected or confirmed

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Key points

  • In the context of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, based on the available evidence and expert consensus, WHO advises that the current recommended IPC measures be reinforced and continue to be stringently implemented.
  • WHO continues to recommend that the highest priority population for vaccination include health workers, older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions.
  • At the present time, WHO recommends that vaccinated persons should continue to adhere to public health and social measures and IPC measures, including in health facilities.
  • Health facilitiesa in some locations have been associated with the spread of SARS-CoV-2 between health workers, patients and others.
  • Following critical health care IPC strategies and measures are required to prevent or limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission in health facilities, including having the following in place: an IPC programme or at least a dedicated and trained IPC focal point, engineering and environmental controls,
  • administrative controls, standard and transmission basedprecautions, screening and triage for early identification of cases and source control, robust surveillance and vaccination of health workers.
  • Optimal compliance with appropriate use of personal protective equipment and hand hygiene by health workers is associated with decreased risk of SARS-CoV2 transmission.
  • Infection prevention and control (IPC) training of health workers is associated with decreased risk of occupational acquisition of COVID-19. a Health facility (including primary, secondary, tertiary care levels, outpatient care and long-term care facilities) b Individuals accessing the healthcare facilities not to directly seek healthcare service, but to physically be present with a patient. Visitors provide various levels of support to patients during the course of treatment (personal, social, psychological, emotional and physical). c Health workers are all people engaged in work actions whose primary intent is to improve health. This includes health service providers, such as doctors, nurses, midwives, public health
  • Health facilities should adhere to key WHO recommended IPC measures, in particular, adhering to respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene best practices, contact, droplet and airborne precautions, adequate environmental cleaning and disinfection; ensuring adequate ventilation; isolation facilities of COVID-19 patients; in addition, where possible, maintaining a physical distance among all individuals in health facilities of at least 1 metre (increasing it whenever feasible), especially in indoor settings.
  • Universal masking by all patients, staff, caregivers and visitors within a health facility should be implemented in health facilities in areas where there is known or suspected community or cluster transmission of SARSCoV-2. Targeted continuous masking should be implemented in clinical areas of health facilities in areas with known or suspected sporadic transmission.
  • IPC precautions should be applied for COVID-19 vaccine administration. Mask use by vaccinators and recipients of the vaccine should be according to local or national guidance.

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