Coronavirus: interim advice for primary care

News Published: 
12 February 2020


The latest nation-by-nation advice is summarised here.

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The Department of Health has published interim advice on coronavirus for primary care practitioners.

The guidance, primarily aimed at GP surgeries but also applicable in dental practices, aims to help reduce the risk of the spread of infection during and following contact with patients with suspected Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), and Public Health England has published an accompanying flowchart.

They advise that if patients display even minor symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath within 14 days of returning to the UK from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau, they should be isolated with their belongings 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, wash their hands and seek specialist advice from a local microbiologist, virologist, or infectious diseases physician.

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. The patient should not be allowed to use communal toilet facilities, and further communication with the patient should be carried out by phone if possible.

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.

Work is now underway, led by the Deputy Chief Dental Officer for England and Director of Dental Public Health for England, to develop dentistry-specific guidance, and the Chief Dental Officer for England has been appointed Chair of the NHS Primary Care Taskforce for 2019-nCoV response. 

Ian Mills, Dean of 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.