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New guidelines by Health Ministry causes stir among dental fraternity

Karachi: The Ministry of National Health Services and Regulations and Cooperation (NHSRC) recently released fresh guidelines for dentists and dental patients’ management during COVID-19 Pandemic. The detailed official document included recommendations that got instantly viral among dental community on social media platforms.

The general response from the dental community was mixed as many appreciated the efforts of Government to draft the guidelines for the dental care services. While many slammed the document for being vague in description.

While speaking to Dental News, Dr Mehmood Shah, President Pakistan Dental Association said, “This has to be a joke! Honestly, are these guidelines any different from any guidelines by any other countries and/or associations.”

Commenting over the document, Prof Dr Arshad Hasan, Principal Dow Dental College said that the recommendations were very superficial and “even contain a plagiarised picture.”

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 airborne spread, contact spread and contaminate spread.

“During the course of this pandemic, given the high transmissibility of the disease and considering that routine dental procedures usually generate aerosols, alterations to dental treatment should be considered to maintain a healthy environment for the patients and the dental team,” an official release said.

The guidelines stated that only emergency dental cases should be catered. “If dental treatment can be delayed, provide patients with detailed home care instructions and any appropriate pharmaceuticals,” NHSRC document said.

The recommendations briefed that all patients be 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.

“Standard and Transmission-based Precautions and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are recommended and must be in practice”, the release adds.

NHSRC officials also recommended that if a patient with a confirmed diagnosis for COVID-19 within the last 14 days, presented with respiratory symptoms, was treated in the dental office, or if any patient was treated without the appropriate PPE, they would be considered as high-risk scenarios. Dentist and members of the dental team should proceed to 14-day quarantine.

According to recent stats, 32,674 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Pakistan.

To view the full release, click here.

-DN Report

May 13, 2020

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