Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks with health worker Wendy Warren during his visit at a coronavirus disease vaccination centre at Cwmbran Stadium in Cwmbran, South Wales, Britain (Photo: Geoff Caddick/Pool via REUTERS)

Various healthcare organisations representing community pharmacies, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and other healthcare professions have called upon prime minister Boris Johnson to make a quick intervention to protect all healthcare teams from the new variants of Covid-19.

In a letter to the prime minister, various healthcare organisations, including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, have written that health and care workers are up to four times greater risk of developing and dying from Covid-19 than the general public.

“However, measures to reduce airborne spread in high-risk health and care settings, which are mission-critical to the pandemic response, have thus far been inadequate. Current policies continue to emphasise the importance of fomite, droplet and direct spread but do not properly address airborne transmission,” the letter said.

“We believe that given the rapid emergence and evolution of new variants of concern, a change in approach must be implemented at speed to protect patients and staff consistently across the UK,” the letter urged.

The letter further urged the Prime Minister to ensure that

  • all health and care providers assess and improve the quality of ventilation in all settings to reduce the risks of airborne spread
  • amend the UK IPC guidance to reflect and increase the level of respiratory protection as a precautionary principle for all health and care workers providing care to people with known or suspected Covid-19, or as a result of local risk assessment
  • update all guidance to reflect the evidence on airborne transmission, ensuring representation from a truly multidisciplinary range of experts including engineering, aerosol science, occupational health, infection prevention and control and behavioural science in addition to stakeholders such as Royal Colleges, professional and scientific bodies and trade unions
  • collect and publish consistent data on health care workers who have contracted Covid-19 from likely occupational exposure so we can identify health and care settings where staff are most affected and target responses to address this.

The organisations have also urged the government to publish all scientific evidence on airborne transmission in health and care settings and undertake research to fill any knowledge gaps.

RPS president Sandra Gidley said: “Pharmacists and pharmacy teams are on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic and have shown enormous dedication to supporting patient care under the most challenging circumstances.

“As our understanding of Covid-19 variants evolves, it’s vital that guidance and support keeps pace so that all health and care workers receive the protection they need.”

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