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Self-isolation: What are the new rules for social care workers in England?

COVID vaccine

On Monday (August 16), self-isolation rules changed for social care staff in England who have had two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Staff who are double jabbed are now no longer required to self-isolate from coronavirus if they are identified as a close contact with a positive case.

The guidance applies to those who have had their final dose of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before coming into contact with a case of COVID-19.

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However, this is subject to new rules from Public Health England, which require a negative PCR test, daily LTD tests and a risk assessment if the staff member is working with people who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19.

The rules are stricter than those which apply to the general public, who are only advised to get a PCR test.

The rules, outlined by the government, are as follows:

Exemptions from self-isolation if a staff member is fully vaccinated and is identified as a contact of a case

Staff should inform their line manager or employer immediately if they are required to work in the 10 days following their last contact with a COVID-19 case.

If the staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 during this period, they should they should follow the stay at home guidance and arrange to have a PCR test.

The majority of fully vaccinated health and social care staff will be able to continue in their usual role. The following apply to all staff returning to work following this exemption:

  • the staff member should not have any COVID-19 symptoms
  • the staff member should immediately arrange for a PCR test, either through their workplace arrangements or via the NHS Test and Trace service, and the result of this PCR test should be negative prior to returning to work
  • following the negative PCR result, the staff member should undertake an LFD antigen test every day for the 10 days following their last contact with the case (even on days they are not at work)
  • if a staff member has had a SARS-CoV-2 infection in the past 90 days, they should not have a PCR test and should only undertake daily LFD antigen tests
  • on days the staff member is working, the LFD antigen test should be taken before starting their shift, and the result should be negative
  • the staff member should comply with all relevant infection control precautions and PPE should be worn properly throughout the day
  • if the staff member works with patients or residents who are highly vulnerable to COVID-19 (as determined by the organisation), a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment during their 10 day self-isolation period

If an unvaccinated or partially vaccinated staff member is identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case

If an unvaccinated or partially vaccinated staff member is notified as a contact of a COVID-19 case, by NHS Test and Trace or their workplace, they must self-isolate as advised unless they are exempt (because they are under 18, unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons or are taking part or have taken part in a clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine).

If they are unvaccinated and are exempt from self-isolation they should not attend work, or should be redeployed for the period of time they would be required to self-isolate. If staff are to be redeployed, they should comply with the mitigations outlined above.

If they develop symptoms of COVID-19 during this period, they should follow the stay at home guidance.

The following general principles continue to apply to all unvaccinated or partially vaccinated staff who have been identified as a contact of a COVID-19 case:

  • if they are providing care to or are in close contact with an individual with SARS-CoV-2 infection and are wearing the correct PPE appropriately in accordance with the current infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance, they will not be considered as a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation
  • if there has been a breach of recommended PPE during the care episode then the staff member would be considered a contact and should self-isolate as advised
  • in non-patient facing areas, IPC precautions may unintentionally be less stringently adhered to. If IPC precautions have been compromised, or PPE has been worn incorrectly or breached, the staff member should be considered a contact and should self-isolate as advised

Click here to read the guidance in full.

Tags : self-isolationvaccine
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke