Following the Prime Minister’s television broadcast this evening we wish to update AHPR guidance for working during the pandemic.
The Government stated they wish to actively encourage those workers who cannot work from home to return to work, with caveats:
- Preferably travel by car, (Government advice also mentions using bicycle or walking to avoid public transport)
- You must maintain social distancing.
- However this is only applicable for those working in England.
Our guidance is as follows:
You can now return to seeing all cases, including maintenance cases, with the usual veterinary referral or consent, providing you can maintain social distancing.
However COVID-19 is still circulating in the population so it is imperative that you carry out risk assessments before agreeing to see a case (NAVP have kindly shared their risk assessment templates which registrants can adapt for their own use) and you must carry out dynamic risk assessment whilst you are working. If you do not feel safe seeing a case you are not obliged to do so and AHPR will support your decision if you have carried out a risk assessment and deemed it unsafe (keep written copies).
Contact the client on the morning of the visit to make sure there have been no changes in health status of clients or those they are living with since you made your last risk assessment.
You should travel in your own transport; it is very important you keep your car clean and disinfected. Carry hand wash, gel, a bucket, towels with you. Use disinfectant wipes to clean car door handles and the steering wheel after each visit. If you use gloves, safely bag them at the end of treatment and dispose of all waste in a non-household bin.
Social distance – keep a minimum 2m between you and the client; but make sure you are safe, especially where dealing with large animals. Discuss your requirements with the client before the visit so they are aware of what you will be doing and the need to maintain social distancing. If you feel they will not observe your requirements don’t attend.
Observe biosecurity when arriving and leaving. Hand washing is still the most important preventative measure you can take. Clean any equipment after finishing. Try to not handle gates / door handles etc. Ask the client to open them for you if possible.
Consider wearing a face mask / face covering in an enclosed space. This is mainly to ensure you do not infect anyone else if you are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic with the disease.
If working in an enclosed space (client’s home, consult room, hydrotherapy centre, stable) ask for the windows to be opened to increase ventilation, especially in damp and humid conditions (viruses survive better in the air in these conditions).
In premises that are dedicated for seeing cases consider taking the animal from the client at the door and limiting client entry to the building.
Try and only see the same person on each visit to reduce the number of contacts you will have. If you are visiting a yard to see multiple animals try and only deal with one person.
The Prime Minister made it clear that this is the first step of returning to some sort of normality, but the lockdown could be reinstated if case numbers and transmission start to increase again, so please play your part by helping to keep the spread of the disease to a minimum. We must continue to ensure the NHS does not get overwhelmed.