COVID-19 – what should dental teams do after a positive test?

woman getting COVID-19 testWith confusing guidance over how to react to COVID-19, Priya Sharma clarifies how dental practices should react.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and substantial impact globally. In the United Kingdom, we have had over 600,000 confirmed positive cases and, unfortunately, 42,875 deaths.

As you read this these numbers continue to escalate quite rapidly.

Recently due to a technical IT issue, Public Health England (PHE) failed to report 15,841 COVID-19 cases between the 25 September and the 2 October.

The major problem, however, was with contact tracing, which translates into a large number of potentially-infected people not self-isolating.

Therefore, it is of paramount importance to know when to self-isolate and follow the required guidance.

Without a doubt, self-isolation is perhaps the single most effective mechanism by which we can control the transmission of COVID-19. One must be aware when to self-isolate.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The hallmark symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to one’s sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

If you experience any of the above symptoms, then stay at home for 10 days and arrange for a test via www.nhs.uk/coronaviruswww.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Is it the law to self-isolate?

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 make it a legal requirement to self-isolate if someone tests positive for COVID-19. Or if they have been told to isolate by NHS Test & Trace and/or have returned to the United Kingdom after travel to a country not on the exempt list.

What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 but don’t have any symptoms?

You must isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken.

It may be that symptoms develop during the 10 days. Then you must restart your 10-day isolation from the day you developed symptoms.

What should members of my household do?

All household members must isolate for 14 days from the day the first member tested positive or experienced symptoms.

If other members develop symptoms or test positive in the 14-day isolation period then they must isolate for 10 days from the day the symptoms started.

What if I travel abroad?

You must prepare to adhere to the country’s coronavirus policies on quarantine. If you test positive in a different country, you may need to seek treatment there. As well as staying for the outlined isolation period.

Upon your arrival back to the United Kingdom you may have to quarantine for 14 days if the country you visited a non-exempt country that is not on the travel corridor list.

You can find a full list of countries at the following link: www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk.

How will someone contact me if someone I know tests positive for coronavirus?

Upon a positive result for coronavirus NHS Test & Trace will contact the person for a list of people they have had close and recent contact with. These close contacts should isolate for 14 days.

The government is encouraging us all to download the NHS COVID-19 app in order to keep informed. It includes local alert levels, contact tracing and venue check-ins.

What about my work colleagues?

If colleagues are wearing the correct PPE in accordance with the current IPC guidance and the work environment is COVID-19 secure, they are not considered ‘close contact’. As such, they do not need to isolate. This applies when providing direct patient care.

However, the use of PPE in other parts of the practice, such as reception and staff room, does not necessarily preclude staff as ‘close contacts’. All advice by NHS Test & Trace will need adhering to.

You can seek further information from your local Health Protection Team (HPT). Find details of your HPT at the following link: www.gov.uk/health-protection-team.

Conclusion

It is important to stay current and adhere to the rapidly evolving guidance for the safety of all involved and to continue dentistry vigilantly.


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