Following the publication of the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) revised UK IPC Guidance, NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHSE/I has set out the next steps for infection prevention and control for NHS Trusts in relation to COVID-19.
The significant changes are around the isolation precautions for patients and exposed contacts, with additional suggestions around social distancing and cleaning protocols. The UKHSA guidance has been updated, taking into consideration the latest scientific evidence as well as feedback from providers about the impact that existing IPC measures are having on capacity.
COVID-19 isolation precautions are being stepped down, with LFD tests being used to reduce the isolation period from 10 days to seven days for patients with COVID-19. Patients with two negative LFD tests, taken 24-hours apart who are showing clinical improvement may be moved out of isolation before day 10.
Inpatients considered to have had contact with a positive case are no longer required to isolate, if they are asymptomatic.
NHSE/I also suggests a return to pre-pandemic distancing in all areas, including patient transport, and a return to pre-pandemic cleaning procedures outside of COVID-19 areas.
An IPC Manual for England has also been published and providers are asked to ensure they have implemented the standard IPC measures as outlined in the Manual as soon as possible.