Click here to read the letter to optometry contractors_vaccine programme from Raymond Curran, Head of Ophthalmic Services Health and Social Care Board issued 7 January 2021.
Recommendations for Covid-19 positive staff
Primary Care Ophthalmic Services (Re-establishment of General Ophthalmic Services/Primary Eyecare Services Operational Guidance – Update 15 October 2020)
3.3.1 COVID positive staff
- Staff with possible Covid-19 symptoms and/or a positive Covid-19 test should self-isolate, not attend work and book a Covid-19 test
- Symptomatic staff who then receive a negative Covid-19 test can return to work when they are well
- Symptomatic staff who receive a positive test should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms and not return to work until after the period of self-isolation and the clinical symptoms have improved with no fever for 48 hours
- Asymptomatic staff who receive a positive test should self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the positive test and can return to work after the period of self-isolation
- Should they then develop symptoms they should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms and not return to work until after the period of self-isolation and the clinical symptoms have improved with no fever for 48 hours
- Return to work flow charts are available here and here
- Staff who have tested positive will be contacted by the PHA Test and Trace team following a Covid-19 positive test
- Further advice should be sought from the PHA if two or more cases are identified. The PHA Duty Room can be contacted at 0300 5550119
- If appropriate PPE has been worn then patients will not be considered as close contacts and will not be required to self-isolate
- If PPE has not been worn or has been significantly breached then close contacts should self-isolate for 14 days
- A negative Covid-19 test, in this circumstance, will not remove the need to self-isolate
- Particular care should be taken in staff areas to ensure social distancing is maintained and face coverings are worn as per section 2.5 of the original guidance (17 June 2020).
- Further information in regards to management of exposed healthcare workers is available here and here.
- Frequent cleaning of non-clinical areas and compliance with section 5 of the June 2020 guidance minimises the risk to staff and patients and should minimise the need for practices to close following a staff member receiving a Covid-19 positive test
- It is advised that members of the optometry team should deactivate Bluetooth or disable the Stop COVID NI app while providing care and treatment. Further information is available at https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-stopcovid-ni-proximity-app
- Practice policies in regards to the management of staff absence may require review
Practitioners in Northern Ireland should follow the advice found on the Optometry NI and Northern Ireland Government websites.
Find out how to self-refer for coronavirus testing in Northern Ireland here.