- Doctors testing negative, asymptomatic will undergo 14-day quarantine
- All hospitals are to activate their Hospital Infection Control Committee
- All hospitals to identify a nodal officer (infection control officer)
New Delhi: The quarantine period for healthcare workers (HCWs) with high-risk exposure to confirmed COVID-19 cases has been reduced from 14 days to one week initially, as per the latest advisory by the Union Health Ministry on Thursday (June 18). The advisory pertains to the management of healthcare workers working in COVID and non-COVID areas of the hospitals. The aim of the government is to provide guidance to the medical professionals on preventive measures, isolation and quarantine of health care functionaries as they are at increased risk of acquiring the COVID-19 disease if there is a breach in the personal protection while managing patients.
In its fresh advisory, the health ministry has directed the nodal officer or head of the department to form a sub-committee to assess the level of exposure and the risk as per assessment. “Thereafter taking the profile of such doctors, nursing officers and other health workers, a decision shall be taken by the nodal officer/head of the department (or his appointed sub-committee) for further period of one week,” stated the revised guidelines.
If they test positive but remain asymptomatic they will follow protocol for very mild, mild and pre-symptomatic cases. If they test negative and remain asymptomatic, complete 14-day quarantine and return to work. Should symptoms develop, mild cases can opt for home isolation while moderate cases that require oxygen therapy will be managed at a dedicated COVID Health Center while severe cases will be managed in a dedicated COVID Hospital, stated the government document.
In the previous advisory issued last month, it stated that high-risk contacts were to be quarantined for 14 days, tested as per ICMR testing protocol, actively monitored for development of symptoms and managed as per laid down protocol.
The nodal officer has to jot down the profile of the healthcare worker for extending his/her quarantine period. It includes: age, health conditions, any co-morbidities, level of exposure, said the official at the health ministry.
“This updation in the advisory has been done due to evolving situation as we are learning more about the virus,” said the official adding that these high-risk contacts shall be tested as per ICMR testing protocol after a week.
The advisory has also directed all hospital to activate its Hospital Infection Control Committee (HICC). The HICC in the health facility is responsible for implementing the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) activities and organising regular trainings on IPC for HCWs.
A nodal officer (infection control officer) shall be identified by each hospital to address all matters related to Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs)
Healthcare workers in different settings of hospitals shall use PPEs appropriate to their risk profile as per the guidelines of the health ministry. And there is no such breach of PPE by the hospital staff. They have to be trained on infection prevention control activities and should be aware of common signs and symptoms as there is a need for self-health monitoring for prompt reporting of such symptoms, stated the document.
The nodal officer has to make sure that there is a provisions regular (thermal) screening of all hospital staff.
All healthcare workers managing COVID-19 cases are being provided with chemo-prophylaxis under medical supervision, it read.