Sector bodies emphasise importance of maintaining high standards of IPC through winter

Optical sector bodies have issued a joint statement in light of the increased prevalence of seasonal flu, COVID-19 and respiratory illness

A white surgical facemask on a baby blue background 
Pexels/Anna Shvets

Optical sector bodies have published a joint statement encouraging practices to maintain high standards of infection protection and control (IPC) throughout winter, due to the increased case prevalence of seasonal flu, COVID-19 and respiratory illness.

The joint statement was published by the AOP, College of Optometrists, Association of British Dispensing Opticians, Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians and Local Optical Commitee Support Unit, reminding practices to stay vigilant to advice from local public health authorities over the coming months.

This follows the latest report from the UK Health Security Agency, which estimates a COVID-19 prevalence of 3.1% across the total population in England and Scotland during the last two weeks of December 2023, which means that approximately one in every 32 people could test positive for COVID-19 infection at the current time.

The professional bodies shared: “Maintaining high standards of infection prevention and control in line with your nation’s National Infection manual is vital to minimise the risk to your teams and patients and ensure continuity of services as we begin 2024.”

Practices were encouraged to be prepared with sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) in order to continue safely providing eye care, should local guidance be issued.

The statement pointed to section B40c of the Guidance for Professional Practice which states that optometrists, dispensing opticians and other practice staff should wear a fluid resistance surgical face mask where there is a public health requirement to wear one.

The statement concluded: “COVID-19 continues to be a serious disease, with new variants and waves predicted to continue in the future.” 

Read the full statement and find links to National infection prevention and control manuals on the AOP website.