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WHO Issues Guidance on Prevention of COVID-19 at LTCFs

Long-term care facilities should ensure there is an infection prevention and control focal point

TUESDAY, March 31, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- In a technical guidance document issued by the World Health Organization, recommendations are presented for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) entry and spread in long-term care facilities (LTCFs).

The WHO provided interim guidance for LTCF managers and corresponding infection prevention and control (IPC) focal persons in LTCFs to prevent COVID-19 from entering facilities, prevent spread within facilities, and prevent spread outside of facilities.

According to the guidelines, LTCFs should ensure there is an IPC focal point at the facility, ideally supported by an IPC team. The focal point should provide COVID-19 IPC training for all employees, including hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, standard precautions, and COVID-19 transmission-based precautions. Information sessions should be provided for residents to inform them about the virus, the disease, and protecting themselves from infection. IPC practices should be audited regularly and feedback should be provided. Emphasis on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette should be increased. Within facilities, physical distancing should be instituted through restriction of the number of visitors; ensuring physical distancing during group activities; staggering meals or closing dining rooms; enforcing a minimum distance between residents; and avoiding touching between residents and employees. In addition, the importance of early recognition is emphasized and source control is discussed in terms of care for patients and prevention of onward transmission.

The effect of IPC should be minimized on the mental health of residents, employees, and visitors by providing practical and emotional support through informal networks and health care providers; providing updated information to residents, employees, and staff; and supporting health care workers and caregivers.

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