We all have a role to play in keeping ourselves and others safe and this is particularly true in the winter months. Whether that’s keeping safe from COVID-19 or other viruses such as flu and Norovirus, we can all play a part in infection prevention.
Next week is International Infection Prevention Week so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some essential reminders of how we can all make infection prevention our intention this winter.
Preventing infection is everyone’s responsibility and we must all do our best to remain vigilant. COVID-19 has not gone away, and other viruses continue to circulate, so we must continue to take steps to protect ourselves and others despite restrictions easing.
Our award-winning Infection Prevention and Control Team, who last month were awarded Team of the Year at the Infection Prevention Society Awards 2021, share advice for everyone to follow this winter to keep infection prevention at the forefront.
Make infection prevention your intention this winter by following these reminders from the team:
The power is in your hands! Wash your hands more frequently and for at least 20 seconds. Model your behaviour on what you did at the beginning of the pandemic and get back into the habit of thoroughly sanitising or washing your hands when you get home, before you eat, before and after using a face covering and after coughing or sneezing. Remember to always wash your hands after using the toilet, using soap and water – hand sanitisers do not kill Norovirus!
Don’t underestimate the power of self-care. Stay warm this winter, drink plenty of fluids and warm drinks, eat a varied diet including one hot meal. Try and be active, get outside, and factor in rest time. This includes caring and looking out for others, too – check in on elderly relatives or neighbours to ensure they’re warm and have their essential groceries and prescriptions.
If you need urgent care, then make sure you think NHS 111 first. NHS 111 will be able to assess you and, if you should need it, book you at time slot at either our walk-in centres, urgent treatment centre or A&E to make sure you can be seen safely. Visit 111.nhs.uk or call 111.
Flu and COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective ways to help protect you, your family and those around you from getting seriously ill and help prevent the spread of these viruses.
Getting your annual flu vaccination is more important than ever, as more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you are offered the flu and COVID-19 vaccines, it’s safe to have both. Find out more on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk.
Wear a face mask
Across the NHS, all existing safety measures remain in place. When you attend your appointment please clean your hands on arrival and when you leave and continue to wear a face covering in all our clinic buildings.
Guidance recommends that you should continue to wear face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet, e.g. public transport.
By covering your nose and mouth with a face covering you’ll reduce the spread of droplets carrying the virus which are released when you talk and breathe.
Regularly testing can help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Around one in three people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. Test twice a week using rapid lateral flow tests to check if you have the virus. You can order your free test kits from www.gov.uk.
If your rapid lateral flow test is positive, self-isolate straight away, report your test result and get a PCR test to confirm your result.
Catch it, bin it, kill it
Go back to basics. The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ message might be well used, but the message remains as important as ever. Use tissues to catch your cough or sneeze, then dispose of your tissue and clean your hands as soon as possible.
By following these steps you’ll be doing your bit to reduce the spread of viruses this winter – make infection prevention your intention.
For more information on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), visit our website www.wchc.nhs.uk.
For this year’s video and poster from the IPC team, visit this page.