To ensure safety of healthcare workers who are exposed to the risk of COVID-19 infection, the health ministry on Friday issued an advisory asking hospitals and other medical facilities to activate Hospital Infection Control Committees (HICC), identify nodal infection control officer and organize regular training of staff to prevent cross-infection.

The ministry issued detailed guidelines on preventive measures, isolation and quarantine for healthcare workers deployed in COVID and non-COVID areas of hospitals.

The ministry advised the healthcare facilities to activate their HICC which would be responsible for implementing the Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) activities and organising regular training for staff.

A nodal officer (Infection Control Officer) shall be identified by each hospital to address all matters related to Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs), the advisory said.

Centre lists parameters for states to mark zones

The Union health ministry on Sunday listed parameters such as active Covid-19 cases, doubling and fatality rates and cases per lakh population, for states and union territories to follow while categorising areas into red, orange or green zones. It also issued guidelines for delineation of containment and buffer zones and outlined actions that have to be implemented in those areas .

Lockdown 4.0: States freed to fix zones

In the most significant easing of the national lockdown yet, the Centre gave states considerable leeway in reopening market places in addition to standalone shops, allowed intra-state and inter-state passenger vehicle and bus travel and did away with the 33% staffing restriction for businesses to provide a fillip to the economy.

The nodal officer has to ensure that healthcare workers in different settings of hospitals use PPEs appropriate to their risk profile, as detailed in the guidelines issued by the ministry, and they have undergone training on IPC and are aware of common signs and symptoms, need for self-health monitoring and prompt reporting of such symptoms, it added.

The officer also has to make provisions for regular thermal screening of all hospital staff and ensure that all healthcare workers managing COVID-19 cases are provided with chemo-prophylaxis under medical supervision, the ministry said.

On actions for healthcare workers, the advisory says it needs to be ensured that all preventive measures like frequent washing of hands or use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers and respiratory etiquettes are followed at all times.

The advisory also asks healthcare workers to follow social distancing and use masks to prevent transmission or acquiring infection.

“Pregnant/lactating mothers and immuno-compromised healthcare workers shall inform their medical condition to the hospital authorities for them to get posted only in non-COVID areas,” the advisory said.