Almost 20 healthcare bodies including the RCN have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for stronger PPE guidance amid emerging scientific evidence around the transmission of Covid-19.
The letter, dated 18 February, said measures to reduce airborne spread in healthcare settings have been ‘inadequate’, and called for an ‘urgent intervention’ to protect health workers, including with better masks and ventilation.
This comes as researchers recently found that coughing generated at least 10 times more infectious aerosol emissions than breathing or speaking – and recommended FFP3 masks in Covid hot zones and similar locations to reflect this.
The Department of Health and Social Care has told Nursing in Practice‘s sister title Pulse the Government will ‘continue to closely monitor new and emerging evidence’ on airborne transmission, and will update the advice ‘where necessary’.
The letter, signed by healthcare leaders, said: ‘Current policies continue to emphasise the importance of fomite, droplet and direct spread but do not properly address airborne transmission.’
It added: ‘There is now no scientific doubt that Covid-19 spreads via the airborne route. There is also direct empirical evidence that the virus is readily transmitted in health care settings beyond formally-classified aerosol generating procedures (AGPs).’
It urged the Mr Johnson to take the lead to address the ‘inconsistencies and gaps in guidance’ by increasing the level of protection and PPE for healthcare workers.
The letter said at least 930 health and social care workers have lost their lives due to Covid-19, and that many more are suffering long-term effects.
The BMA called for more stringent PPE guidance in primary care back in January following growing concerns about aerosol transmission in healthcare settings.