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Changes to mask use and Testing Strategy – 633/2022

By September 5, 2022 No Comments

At present the COVID prevalence in Gibraltar appears to be settling, and the risks of serious complications for most has been mitigated by our excellent vaccination programme.

As the winter season is approaching, the Gibraltar Health Authority’s objective is to enable the management of COVID-19 along with other respiratory illnesses, whilst protecting and treating those who are most vulnerable to more serious outcomes.

Therefore, in line with the GHA’s ‘Living with COVID’ plan, the Infection Control guidance for Covid-19 has been updated to allow for a step down from the formal requirement for mask use, by healthcare workers; patients and visitors, within the GHA.

As from Monday 5th of September 2022, the option to not wear a mask will apply in all NONCLINICAL areas within St Bernard’s Hospital, such as hospital corridors, administrative offices, and the canteen etc., where social distancing can be maintained.

However, the GHA advise that although it will not be mandatory to wear a mask in non-clinical areas it is recommend and encouraged.

Patients in our hospitals are often very vulnerable to infection because of underlying illness or age. Because it is often difficult in hospitals and other residential care settings to maintain physical distancing, the use of masks by staff & visitors in CLINICAL areas is still required and mandated. This is deliberate to protect both staff and patients.

Mask use will therefore be Mandatory for:

  • All staff and visitors for inpatient clinical areas (e.g. all wards)
  • All staff, patients & visitors in selected outpatient/ day case units: Accident & Emergency, Dialysis, Oncology/Chemotherapy, MIU, Day Surgery and Primary Care.
  • All staff and visitors in ERS settings, this is a high-risk area, due to the frailty of their residents and where direct care is constant.
  • All direct patient facing activities where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

IC Guidance for Covid testing within St Bernard’s has also been updated in line with stepdown.

As from Monday 5th September 2022, the routine weekly testing of asymptomatic long-stay patients will be paused in the GHA. New inpatient admissions will continue to be tested on admission, day 3 and day 7.  ERS settings and Dialysis will continue with their routine testing regime of residents/inpatients and Visitors.

Visitors to SBH will not be required to perform an LFT prior to visiting, however:

  • All visitors must adhere to the PPE guidance relevant to that area: be it inpatient or outpatient
  • Visitors must not attend if COVID-positive AND/OR symptomatic with flu-like illness or any other infectious symptom (e.g. D&V); visitors may be asked to leave by staff if noted to be symptomatic on entry.