Community physicians: Things to know about updated infection prevention and control guidelines

September 7, 2021

The BCCDC has posted updated infection prevention and control guidelines for health care facilities and community practices. The information is contained in a letter sent to physicians with updated virtual and in-person care guidelines. A summary of changes for family physician and specialist community practices can be found below:

Mask use requirements:  

  • Please note the medical mask use requirements have not changed for community-based physicians, NPs, and staff and remain in effect. This means that health care providers, HCWs, staff, and visitors are still required to wear medical masks when working, entering, and moving around the facility. 

Eye protection: 

  • HCWs are no longer required to wear eye protection for every patient interaction; instead, they should conduct a point-of-care risk assessment and use the appropriate eye protection and any additional precautions, where indicated. 
  • In addition: When providing direct care of patients with suspected COVID-19 (e.g., patients with risk factors and/or symptoms of COVID-19) or a diagnosis of COVID-19, HCWs and providers should continue to follow droplet and contact precautions; this includes wearing a medical mask, eye protection, gloves, and gown. 

Physical distancing and capacity limits:

  • Capacity limits for waiting rooms/areas are no longer required. 
  • Physical distancing or maintaining a distance of two metres between two or more people is no longer required; instead, people should respect personal space. 
  • Physical barriers that were installed during the COVID-19 pandemic should be kept in place if they do not impede normal operations. 

Screening for COVID-19 symptoms: 

  • In alignment with B.C.’s Restart Plan and the transition of COVID-19 pandemic to communicable disease prevention, wording for staff, patient and visitor screening has been updated:
    • Before each shift, all HCWs, staff, volunteers, contractors, and students must self-screen for symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and communicable respiratory illness in accordance with employer communicable disease plans, using the COVID-19 health-care worker self-check and safety checklist. 
    • Before each appointment, every patient must be screened for symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and communicable respiratory illness using the COVID-19 entrance screening tool for health-care facilities.