It comes after the Prime Minister announced plans to “live with” the virus.
The UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued new guidance for health and care workers who have symptoms or test positive for Covid-19.
It comes after the Prime Minister announced an end to all pandemic restrictions for the general population in a plan for the UK to “live with” the virus.
Health unions have called for the UKHSA to issue guidance protecting both patients and healthcare workers.
Several notable changes.
According to the new guidance, any health or social care worker who experiences a new continuous cough, high temperature or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell “should not attend work” and undertake a confirmatory PCR test.
Staff who test positive for the virus via an asymptomatic Lateral Flow test or confirmatory PCR test should also remain away from work.
A notable change to the policy is removing a confirmatory PCR test following a positive lateral flow.
Another significant change is that “health and social care staff who are contacts will be able to continue in their usual role.” The condition is that the staff member has no symptoms, has a negative PCR test and undertakes daily lateral flowing testing for ten days.
Contact with someone who has the virus while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) will “not be considered as a contact”, the guidance clarifies.
The new rules apply to all staff who have had “who have received one or more doses” of the vaccine.
Check local policies.
It is unknown if health and care workers will be instructed to continue undertaking asymptomatic twice-weekly testing or how this will be paid for.
On returning to work following a positive test, the document explains, “staff with COVID-19 should not attend work until they have had 2 consecutive negative LFD test results [5 days after the day their symptoms], they feel well, and they do not have a high temperature.”
It is thought that individual organisations will adapt this guidance to their specific clinical areas, so staff are encouraged to check local policies.