Winter is coming – help protect healthcare settings
The height of winter is fast approaching and the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people to continue to follow public health advice when in healthcare settings.
Rodney Morton, Director of Nursing and Allied Health Professions at the PHA, said: “As we move deeper into winter, we are seeing increased pressure on our healthcare settings.
“Everyone attending or visiting must remain vigilant and continue to protect those sick and vulnerable people who are cared for in all our health and social care settings, those who attend Emergency Departments, Outpatients or other healthcare facilities for treatment, and those who are currently inpatients or residents within healthcare settings such as homes.”
If you are attending or visiting a health and social care facility you should:
- Take a lateral flow test prior to attending or visiting. Find out more at: www.health-ni.gov.uk/rapid-tests
- Continue to wear a face covering. It is essential to wear a face covering properly and to handle it appropriately with clean hands;
- Wash your hands properly, as this is one of the most effective things you can do to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wash hands/use sanitiser on entering and leaving healthcare departments and facilities;
- Comply with the social distancing arrangements in place in the setting you are attending or visiting;
- Do not visit or attend health and social care settings if you have symptoms of COVID-19, or you have been in contact with a positive case and are self-isolating, or you are waiting for a COVID-19 test result.
- If you are eligible for the flu vaccine or COVID-19 jab, please book it now at a participating community pharmacy or turn up at a drop-in clinic. The ‘Boost your Immunity this Winter’ campaign combines the flu vaccine programme with the COVID-19 vaccine programme to help reduce the spread of flu and COVID-19 and lower hospital-related admissions for both. This is particularly important at this time when the health service is under severe strain.
Anyone who is due to have an elective procedure will be asked to attend for a COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before their attendance and will be asked to self-isolate from the time of their PCR test. It is important to attend the test and self-isolate as failure to do may result in the procedure being cancelled.
Linda Kelly, Interim Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Ireland, said: “Failure to follow public health advice may lead to increased transmission and cases. Those being cared for in our health and social care settings are the most vulnerable in our community and it is vital that we do everything we can to protect them.
“It is also important to show respect to all healthcare professionals, who will be asking you to follow the guidelines as they endeavour to keep everyone safe.
“It is also vital that anyone who still has not come forward for a vaccine does so as soon as possible.
“Getting your COVID vaccine has never been easier with clinics available across Northern Ireland. To find out where they are located visit pha.site/nidirectcovid.
“The message for everyone remains that it is essential that when in healthcare settings we all continue to follow public health advice. This advice will help prevent the spread of COVID-19, help to protect healthcare settings and help save lives.”