17 January 2024

Practices advised to maintain high standards of IPC as cases of seasonal respiratory illnesses rise

Due to the increasing case prevalence of seasonal flu, COVID-19 and respiratory illness, it is vital that practices maintain high standards of infection protection and controls, and stay vigilant to local public health advice.

COVID-19: Maintaining high standards of IPC this winter

The College, along with ABDO, AOP, FODO and LOCSU, has issued a joint statement on protecting patients and staff as cases of seasonal flu, COVID-19 and respiratory illness increase:

The latest report from UKHSA estimates a COVID-19 prevalence of 3.1% across the total population in England and Scotland during the last two weeks of December 2023. This means that approximately 1 in every 32 people could test positive for COVID-19 infection at the current time. Maintaining high standards of infection prevention and control in line with your nation's National Infection manual is vital to minimise the risk to your teams and patients, and ensure continuity of services as we begin 2024.

Please stay vigilant to advice from your local public health authorities (health protection teams, medical or nursing directors) over the coming months. Ensure your practice is prepared so you have sufficient levels of PPE, including face masks for patients, to enable your practice to continue to provide eye care safely, should local guidance be issued. This is in line with section B40c of the Guidance for Professional Practice, where optometrists, dispensing opticians and other practice staff should wear a fluid resistance surgical face mask (FRSM) where there is a public health requirement to wear one.

Sector bodies advise:

  • Ensure scrupulous handwashing
  • Be prepared with stocks of PPE
  • Ensure good levels of ventilation
  • Maintain high standards of IPC by following your nations IPC manual
  • Keeping up to date with occupational vaccinations

COVID-19 continues to be a serious disease, with new variants and waves predicted to continue in the future.

Related further reading

This study reports on an audit carried out in the emergency eye care (EEC) service at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

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