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COVID-19: Health ministry issues return to work guidelines for dental care services

Karachi: The Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations and Cooperation (NHSRC) recently released fresh guidelines for dentists who are resuming their practices again in COVID-19 Pandemic. The detailed official document included recommendations that were in continuation of initial guidelines issued by the ministry earlier.

According to the new guidelines, dental care settings invariably carry the risk of 2019-nCoV infection due to the specificity of its procedures, which involves face-to-face communication with patients, and frequent exposure to saliva, blood, and other body fluids, and the handling of sharp instruments. Hence, dental professionals should make sure to limit the contamination which can be done via the airborne spread, contact spread, and contaminate spread. It also said, “The clinicians may choose to limit their procedures in early stages with a limited number of patients and can choose to add more with improving condition countrywide.”

“All staff should be assessed for risk as an ongoing practice and anyone demonstrating symptoms or having symptomatic household contacts should not be allowed to work and should be instructed for self-isolation and staff with suspected COVID-19 should be arranged for testing as per government guidelines. After a period of 14 days, if they are symptom-free they may return to work. Staff should be trained strictly to adhere to the guides of social distancing and hand hygiene issued by the government in light of Covid-19 and should be advised to avoid unnecessary contact with each other,” an official release said.

The guidelines stated that only emergency dental cases should be catered. “All patients who call the clinic for consultation must initially be scheduled for a remote dentistry consultation,” NHSRC document said.

The recommendations briefed that all patients are screened before entering and social distancing be maintained within the practice. Patients should continue to practice basic hygiene routines and should wear a mask when NOT receiving treatment.

“For rationalization of clinic areas, zones may be marked on the floor using a material friendly with frequent disinfection which includes triaging zone, seating area, donning and doffing area,” the release adds.

NHSRC officials also recommended that best available quality of Personal Protective Equipment including gloves, a gown, eye protection (i.e., goggles or a disposable/reusable face shield that covers the front and sides of the face), and N95 or higher-level respirator should be available for all Dental Care Providers (DCP’s) i.e. dentist and dental nurses. Sufficient stock of PPE for all clinic staff should be available in stock

According to stats reported on 17th July 2020, 255,716 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Pakistan.

To view the full release, check out the website: http://nhsrc.gov.pk/

-DN Report

July 30, 2020

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