Centre has revised the quarantine period to seven days for all healthcare corona warriors including doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who are at high-risk exposure to COVID-19 patients. The quarantine period can be extended with the decision of Nodal officer or Head of Department after taking into account the profile of the healthcare worker.
“For doctors, nursing officers and other health workers with high-risk exposure, the quarantine period shall be initially for one week only,” said the updated advisory issued on the management of healthcare professionals working in COVID and non-COVID areas of hospitals.
Union Health Ministry has revised the May 15 guidelines as per which all the high-risk contacts are advised to be quarantined for 14 days, should be tested under ICMR testing protocol, and monitored for symptoms.
The profile factors which will be taken into account to extend the quarantine period from 7 to 14 days will include age, health condition, extent of exposure, and presence of co-morbidities explained by a health ministry official.
The advisory said that the healthcare professionals who are at high-risk exposure will be tested after a week.
If they will be tested positive without any symptoms, a protocol for very mild, mild, and presymptomatic cases will be followed.
While if the healthcare worker will be tested negative and remain asymptomatic, 14 days quarantine should be followed before returning to work. The advisory said that mild cases can opt for home isolation while moderate cases that require oxygen therapy should be managed at a Dedicated COVID Health Centre and severe cases should be managed in a dedicated COVID Hospital.
On the other hand, low-risk contacts will continue to work and will self monitor them for the development of symptoms.
“A large number of COVID-19 affected health personnel getting isolated for treatment and their close contacts undergoing quarantine affects the health/ hospital service delivery” stated the advisory.
As per the standard operating procedures, breach of PPE or exposure must be immediately reported to the concerned nodal officer (infection control officer) or HoD. The nodal officer will then ascertain the exposure and risk.
Besides that, the nodal officer has to ensure that the healthcare professionals are using the PPE appropriately, have undergone training under IPC, and are thoroughly cognizant about the symptoms and precautionary measures.
“The officer also has to make provisions for the regular (thermal) screening of all hospital staff and ensure that all healthcare workers managing COVID-19 cases are provided with chemoprophylaxis under medical supervision,” stated the Union Health Ministry.