The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)) is encouraging dental practices to take note of advice for primary dental care on coronavirus.
NB This is updated advice which supersedes the interim advice for primary care published earlier this month.
NHS England's Standard Operating Procedure for primary dental care settings aims to help reduce the risk of the spread of infection during and following contact with patients with suspected Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19; formerly referred to as 2019-nCoV), and is accompanied by Department of Health guidance for primary care.
The guidance advises that if patients attending a practice have in the previous 14 days been to Category 1 countries or regions (whether or not they have any symptoms of illness), or display even minor symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath within 14 days of returning to the UK from Category 2 areas, they should be isolated with their belongings and any accompanying family members in a side room with the door closed, and should not be physically examined. If an examination or appointment has already started, practitioners should leave the room and wash their hands thoroughly.
In both cases, staff and visitors should be informed not to enter the isolation room, and the patient should be instructed to immediately call NHS 111 if in England or Wales, their GP or NHS 24 if in Scotland, or 0300 200 7885 if in Northern Ireland, preferably on their own mobile phone. NHS 111 and its equivalents will assess the patient and determine the appropriate next course of action using the COVID-19 Patient Pathway. Isolated individuals should not be allowed to use communal toilet facilities, and further communication with them should be carried out by phone. The guidance also details the process for arranging safe transfers to hospital, and for decontaminating isolation rooms after use.
As of 27 February 2020, the relevant countries are:
Wuhan city and Hubei Province, China
Daegu or Cheongdo, South Korea
Italian towns under containment measures
All other regions of China
All other regions of South Korea
All other parts of northern Italy
Anyone who has had contact with a confirmed case of Coronavirus in the previous 14 days, even if they themselves are asymptomatic, should be reported to the local Health Protection Team immediately.
The Chief Dental Officer for England has been appointed Chair of the NHS Primary Care Taskforce for COVID-19 response, and Ian Mills FFGDP(UK), Dean of the FGDP(UK), has joined an NHS England working group to develop plans for dentistry, pharmacy and optometry in case of a greater outbreak of the virus.