College of Optometrists updates Amber phase guidance

In the wake of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Government has refreshed infection prevention and control guidance for healthcare workers

person wearing blue face mask
Pixabay/Julián Amé

The College of Optometrists has updated its Amber phase COVID-19 guidance to reflect Government changes to infection prevention and control protocols.

The refreshed guidance follows the international spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has designated a ‘variant of concern.’

The Government published updated infection prevention and control procedures for health and care workers on 24 November, outlining measures designed to prevent the transmission of flu and respiratory viruses including the virus that causes COVID-19.

The guidance recommends maintaining physical distancing of at least one metre across all health and care settings, increasing to two metres where possible.

Health and care workers as well as patients are required to wear a face covering over the winter period, with this requirement likely to remain until at least March/April 2022.

The Government has recommended that care pathways are defined locally, removing the three COVID-19 specific care pathways of high, medium and low.

On 30 November the College of Optometrists updated its Amber phase COVID-19 guidance to reflect the refreshed Government protocols.

Aspects of the guidance include screening patients who contact the practice for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections, as well as revised infection prevention controls for Alger brush and microblepharoexfoliation procedures.

New general measures in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant include the reintroduction of compulsory face coverings in shops and on public transport.

All contacts of suspected Omicron cases must self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status, while international arrivals are required to take a Day 2 PCR test and self-isolate until they receive a negative test.

AOP clinical director, Dr Peter Hampson, highlighted that winter was always going to be a challenging period for the profession with respiratory infection rates expected to rise.

“Concerns around the COVID-19 Omicron variant crystallises this further,” he said.

“The government guidance highlights the importance of maintaining comprehensive infection prevention and control procedures, including appropriate PPE and wearing face masks, to keep practice staff and patients as safe as possible,” Hampson highlighted.

“The measures against the Omicron variant introduced by the Government require all contacts of suspected Omicron cases to self-isolate, regardless of their age or vaccination status. We will continue to share updates with members as more information about this requirement emerges,” he concluded.