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COVID-19 Green phase begins

As of 10 May, the College of Optometrists Amber phase guidance no longer applies in UK nations

face mask

The optometry profession in the UK has transitioned to a COVID-19 ‘Green’ phase as of yesterday (10 May).

Health systems across each nation of the UK supported the move, the College of Optometrists confirmed. Following the transition, the College’s COVID-19 Amber phase guidance, and the General Optical Council’s amber phase easements, will no longer apply in all UK nations.

In light of the move to a Green phase, professional bodies have advised that the COVID-19 specific decontamination protocols should be stopped, along with physical distancing – although this requirement had already ceased in England and Scotland and risk-assessed distancing still applies in Wales and Northern Ireland.

In addition, the delivery of COVID-19 modified eye examinations should end, though the College still encouraged a needs-led approach.

Eye care professionals are advised to follow the updated Guidance for Professional Practice, along with infection prevention and control guidance for healthcare settings in their nation.

A number of measures will continue to apply, however, with the College advising that staff should continue to wear a fluid-resistant face mask. Similarly, the UK Health Security Agency suggests that patients visiting health care settings should continue to be recommended to wear a face covering.

Regular asymptomatic lateral flow testing can also continue as recommended by individual nation’s health systems.

High standards of infection prevention and control, including decontaminating equipment and keeping up with immunisations, should also continue, as well as retaining mechanisms to enable patients with symptoms of a respiratory infection to postpone appointments where not urgent.

Providing the update, the College cautioned that ‘living with COVID-19’ does not mean a return to practice “as it was before the pandemic,” adding: “The ‘new normal’ incorporates the good practices established over the past two years.”

“Coronavirus continues to be a serious disease with new variants, and future waves are predicted to continue for many more years,” the organisation warned.

For questions or concerns on clinical issues, the AOP’s clinical and regulatory team can be contacted on [email protected]