Guidance

COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC)

Guidance on infection prevention and control for seasonal respiratory infections including SARS-CoV-2.

Documents

Appendix 1: Sample screening tool for COVID-19 for use in health and care settings (winter 2021 to 2022)

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Appendix 2: Best practice hand wash

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Appendix 2: Best practice hand rub

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Appendix 2: Best practice management of blood and body fluid spills

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Appendix 2: Facial hair and FFP3 respirators

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Appendix 2: Routine decontamination of reusable equipment

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Details

The IPC principles in this document apply to all health and care settings, including acute, diagnostics, independent sector, mental health and learning disabilities, primary care, care homes, care at home, maternity and paediatrics. This list is not exhaustive.

Please note, this guidance does not apply to adult social care settings in England. Adult social care providers in England should refer to existing guidance. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will continuously review this guidance and update as needed.

This IPC guidance will be updated in line with service need and as the evidence evolves. The administrative measures outlined in the guidance are consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance.

The guidance is issued jointly by DHSC, Public Health Wales (PHW), Public Health Agency (PHA) Northern Ireland, Health Protection Scotland (HPS), UKHSA and NHS England as official guidance.

While this guidance seeks to ensure a consistent and resilient UK wide approach, some differences in operational details and organisational responsibilities may apply in Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland.

Refer to personal protective equipment use for aerosol generating procedures.

Refer to personal protective equipment use for non-aerosol generating procedures.

Please note that this guidance is of a general nature and that an employer should consider the specific conditions of each individual place of work and comply with all applicable legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The epidemiological definitions of outbreaks and clusters has been moved from this page.

Published 10 January 2020
Last updated 24 November 2021 + show all updates
  1. Dental appendix broadened to include seasonal respiratory infections; 3 COVID-19 specific pathways removed and replaced with respiratory and non-respiratory pathways.

  2. Updated to clarify text on aerosol generating procedures.

  3. Guidance broadened to include seasonal respiratory infections; 3 COVID-19 specific pathways removed; section on the hierarchy of controls added; physical distancing advice updated.

  4. Removed PDF format for main guidance and combined HTML documents into one.

  5. The standard isolation period advised for contacts of cases within inpatient settings is changed back from 10 to 14 days, in line with current healthcare guidance.

  6. Updated mental health and dental appendices in line with main IPC guidance of 1 June. Removed fallow time between household members from dental appendix.

  7. Updated to add requirements on local risk assessments and information around use of respiratory protective equipment and valved respirators. Clarified glove use in amber pathway.

  8. Removed IPC highlight quick reference guide.

  9. Addition of mental health appendix and title change for IPC guidance to 'Guidance for maintaining services within health and care settings.' Guidance amended to strengthen existing messaging and provide further clarity where needed, such as care pathways to recognise testing and exposure.

  10. Added COVID-19: infection prevention and control dental appendix.

  11. Re-arranged document order and moved ‘COVID-19: epidemiological definitions of outbreaks and clusters in particular settings’ from this page (see link in Details section).

  12. Added IPC highlights quick reference guide.

  13. Removed 'Considerations for acute personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages'.

  14. Added COVID-19 risk pathways to support returning services.

  15. Added 'Epidemiological definitions of outbreaks and clusters in particular settings'.

  16. Added recommendations for the use of face masks in primary care.

  17. Clarification of aerosol generating procedures in the complete guidance PDF and in the COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) page.

  18. Addition of new operational guidance from NHS England.

  19. Amends to the PDF of complete guidance (added text in the appendix, and a corrected link to evidence review). Corrected link to evidence review also added to the PPE page.

  20. Added Appendix 2.

  21. Added new PDF version of complete guidance; updated 'Introduction and organisational preparedness', 'Transmission characteristics and principles of infection prevention and control', 'COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE)', 'Explanation of the updates to infection prevention and control guidance' ' Reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the hospital setting'.

  22. Added HSE statement about use of FFP2 respirators to the 'Considerations for acute personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages' attachment.

  23. Added statement following NERVTAG review of cardiopulmonary resuscitation as an aerosol generating procedure, and added same statement into the PDF of the complete guidance.

  24. Added PDF version of the complete suite of guidance. Added clarification that chest compression is not an aerosol generating procedure to the PPE page.

  25. Added Considerations for acute personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages.

  26. Added a statement to clarify that the UK is currently experiencing sustained community transmission of COVID-19.

  27. Updated guidance, new Tables 1,3 and 4, and added links.

  28. Removed reference to ‘first responders’ in PPE table 3 and guidance.

  29. List of guidance updates now included in 'Explanation of the updates to infection prevention and control guidance'.

  30. Added Frequently Asked Questions on wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

  31. Added explanation of the updates to the infection prevention and control guidance.

  32. Updated 'A visual guide to safe PPE' poster.

  33. New tables describing PPE use across different clinical scenarios and settings; advice on sessional PPE use and reusable PPE; change in close-contact distance; advice on washing forearms if exposed; advice on acceptable respirators; general formatting to improve usability.

  34. Revised sections on aerosol generating procedures and theatres.

  35. Moved guidance for personal protective equipment (PPE) for aerosol generating procedures and for non-aerosol generating procedures to new, separate pages.

  36. Added new guidance for putting on and taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) for non-aerosol generating procedures.

  37. Added new guidance on when to use a face mask or FFP3 respirator.

  38. Added 'Infection prevention and control guidance for pandemic coronavirus'.

  39. Changes to PPE and mask and respiratory recommendations for different situations; incorporated existing advice on safe use of point-of-care tests including blood gas machines and updated advice on IPC in operating theatres.

  40. Added quick guides and videos for donning and doffing of personal protective equipment (PPE).

  41. Added posters for donning and doffing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

  42. Revised guidance.

  43. Updated section on 'Waste' with new information.

  44. Updated waste categorisation and terminology for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

  45. Updated document with new edition.

  46. First published.