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COVID IPC advice issued in Wales, as shielding list officially closes

Guidance outlines long-term COVID plan, ahead of March 31 shielding list closure

March 11th 2022

Tagged: Wales COVID19

By Ailsa Colquhoun

A new long-term plan for living with COVID-19 in Wales provides advice to GPs on long-term infection prevention and control.

Together for a safer future: Wales’ long-term COVID-19 transition from pandemic to endemic references forthcoming IPC guidance which makes the following recommendations for GPs:

  • Continue hand washing, appropriate mask wearing, ventilation and the use of personal protective equipment
  • Patients with respiratory infections will be treated in separate clinical areas.

The plan also outlines the intention to offer a spring booster against COVID-19 for the oldest and most vulnerable people in Wales.

There is also a commitment to deliver an autumn booster programme, which should become an annual event, as part of a regular COVID-19 vaccination programme for 2022 and beyond.

Clusters and outbreaks of coronavirus will be managed in line with The Communicable Disease Outbreak Control Plan  (The Wales Outbreak Plan), which will be updated to reflect learning from the pandemic.

As employers, GPs are asked to consider sickness benefits for people with long COVID.

The Welsh Chief Medical Officer will write to patients on the shielding list to advise that this list will close on 31 March. Shielding advice was paused on 1 April 2021.

In the long-term plan for COVID-19 in Wales, Welsh people are given the following advice:

  • Get vaccinated and stay up to date with their Covid-19 vaccinations
  • Follow public health advice on testing and self-isolation
  • Stay at home if they can when they are ill, and wear a face covering in indoor areas if they have symptoms but do need to leave home
  • Meet outdoors where possible and ensure good ventilation if indoors
  • Take additional precautions when visiting vulnerable people, and avoid meeting them if possible if experiencing symptoms of respiratory infection
  • Wash hands regularly, cover coughs and sneezes, and wear face coverings in close contact areas.

The long-term plan establishes two scenarios for Wales:

  • Covid Stable: Considered the most likely scenario, Wales expects to encounter additional waves of infection and new variants, some of which may become dominant. These waves should not put unsustainable pressure on the health and social care system. Vaccines and other pharmaceutical interventions are expected to remain effective in preventing serious illness.
  • Covid Urgent: A new variant could emerge that has a high level of vaccine escape or other advantages that puts large numbers of people at risk of severe illness, for example similar to the alpha wave in December 2020. This may require an augmented public health response.