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06 January 2022

COVID-19 update – Interim PPE guidance

The HSE-AMRIC updated its PPE guidance on the 29 December. The guidance is written for all healthcare settings and covers PPE for COVID pathways. Primary eye care providers do not examine patients with suspected or confirmed COVID, so only some sections of the new guidance are likely to apply. In the sections below we have summarised our current understanding of the new PPE guidance in the context of a typical primary eye care setting.

PPE to use when providing patient care in clinical areas

When testing a patient (sight testing, contact lens care and other face-to-face clinical examinations):

  • Team members should use an FFP2 mask
  • Patients can use a surgical mask [1] 

PPE to use when undertaking pre-screening

Performing an initial clinical assessment in the pre-screening area is classified as a 'low contact activity' because opportunities for virus transmission is minimised [2]. In this scenario:

  • Staff can use an FFP2 mask or Type IIR mask
  • Patients can use a surgical mask [2]

PPE to use when serving customers in non-clinical areas

Serving customers/patients in non-clinical areas (e.g. reception, dispensing and collections etc)

  • Staff and customers can use a surgical mask [3]  

In addition to the guidance above, FFP2 masks need to be used correctly. HSE-AMRIC PPE guidance acknowledges that not all staff will have FFP2 masks fit tested. In lower risk primary eye care settings staff who do not have a fit test are therefore advised to follow this HSE advice on using a FFP2 mask [4]. 

It is important to remember that PPE is just one part of mitigating the risk of virus transmission. Members should also maintain rigorous infection prevention and control measures that are already in place (including physical distancing) and start moving to the new PPE requirements as soon as possible. During the transition phase it is important to put patients first and not to disrupt access to essential and urgent eye care.
If you have any questions about this member update, please email [email protected]

We keep all official guidance under review and will continue to update members about any changes.
[1] Sections 1.1 (page 7), 5.1.1 (page 8) and 9.2 (page 12) HSE-AMRIC PPE guidance 29 December 2021
[2] Section 5.1.4 (page 9) HSE-AMRIC PPE guidance 29 December 2021. Please note that this section of the guidance provides examples of "low contact activities" which are "tasks being performed are unlikely to provide opportunities for the transfer of virus/other pathogens to the hands and clothing".
[3] Sections 1.1, 2.1 and 3.2 (page 7) and 9.2 (page 12) HSE-AMRIC PPE guidance 29 December 2021
[4] Page 14 of HSE-AMRIC PPE guidance 29 December 2021 covers fit testing. Primary eye care sites do not perform AGPs or see patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and therefore are not the priority group for fit testing. If fit testing is not available, the wearer should, therefore, follow the HPSC guide for using an FFP2 mask.



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