The UK Health Security Agency has updated its infection prevention and control guidance, suggesting a return to ‘pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas’

NottyJPhoto social distancing distance seat separation

In a letter to all hospitals and CCGs last week, NHS England and NHS Improvement have outlined the changes to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC). The changes involve a return to ‘pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas’, including in all primary care settings.

Outlining updates to the standard IPC guidance, the letter told all hospitals and CCGs to return to ‘pre-pandemic physical distancing in all areas, including in emergency departments, ambulances, and patient transport, as well as all primary care, inpatient, and outpatient settings. This should be done in a way that maintains compliance with all relevant Health Technical Memoranda and Health Building Notes.’

NHS England said that the changes ‘signal a step in the transition back to pre-pandemic IPC measures’.

It added that it is ‘setting out a way forward … [and] adapting the way that the NHS operates with COVID-19 in general circulation and with the virus likely to remain endemic for some time to come.’

Other changes to the UKHSA IPC guidance, outlined in this letter, include:

  • the stepping down of inpatient COVID-19 isolation precautions
  • the stepping down of COVID-19 precautions for exposed patient contacts
  • a return to pre-pandemic cleaning protocols outside of COVID-19 areas.

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