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Health Ministry issues advisory for healthcare workers

New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry on Friday 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 says it needs to be ensured that all preventive measures like frequent washing of hands/use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers and respiratory etiquettes (using tissue/handkerchief while coughing or sneezing) 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.

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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