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Health Ministry Issues Advisory For Healthcare Staff Deployed In COVID & Other Hospitals

Union Health Ministry on Saturday issued guidelines on preventive measures, isolation, quarantine for healthcare workers deployed in COVID, non-COVID hospitals

Health Ministry

The Union Health Ministry on Saturday issued guidelines on preventive measures, isolation and quarantine for healthcare workers deployed in COVID and non-COVID areas of hospitals. The ministry advised the healthcare facilities to activate their Hospital Infection Control Committees (HICC) which would be responsible for implementing the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) activities and organising regular training for staff.

A nodal officer (Infection Control Officer) shall be identified by each hospital to address all matters related to Healthcare-Associated Infections (HAIs), the advisory said. The nodal officer has to ensure that healthcare workers in different settings of hospitals use PPEs appropriate to their risk profile, as detailed in the guidelines issued by the ministry, and they have undergone training on IPC and are aware of common signs and symptoms, need for self-health monitoring and prompt reporting of such symptoms, it added. The officer also has to make provisions for regular (thermal) screening of all hospital staff and ensure that all healthcare workers managing COVID-19 cases are provided with chemo-prophylaxis under medical supervision, the ministry said.

On actions for healthcare workers, the advisory said that it needs to be ensured that all preventive measures like frequent washing of hands/use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers and respiratory etiquettes are followed at all times. "He or she shall use appropriate PPE at all times while on duty. A buddy system to be followed to ensure that there is no breach in infection prevention control practices," it said.

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Under the buddy system, two or more-person teams are formed amongst the deployed hospital staff who share responsibilities for his/her partner's safety and well-being in the context of appropriately donning and doffing of PPEs, maintaining hand hygiene and taking requisite steps on observing breach of PPEs.

The advisory also asks healthcare workers to follow social distancing and use masks to prevent transmission or acquiring infection. "Pregnant/lactating mothers and immuno-compromised healthcare workers shall inform their medical condition to the hospital authorities for them to get posted only in non-COVID areas," the advisory said.

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Advisory for rational use of PPE kits

Earlier on Friday, the Ministry of Health released guidelines on the rational use of Personal Protective Equipment based on the settings approach. This shall be applicable to healthcare professionals and others working in non-COVID hospitals and non-COVID treatment areas of a hospital. The use of PPE depends on the risk profile of the healthcare worker. It has prescribed the PPE to be used in different settings such as the out-patient department, in-patient department, emergency department, ancillary services, and ambulance services. At the same time, the Ministry of Health has stressed that PPE cannot be substituted for basic preventive health measures such as hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. 

(with PTI inputs)

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