To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will update Public Health England guidance on personal protective equipment in response to (a) the new more transmissible strains of the virus and (b) inadequate ventilation in hospitals to ensure all healthcare workers in covid-19 wards are able to access fluid resistant surgical masks.
This answer is the replacement for a previous holding answer.
29 March 2021
The personal protective equipment (PPE) recommendations for use in the National Health Service are set out in the infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance, which was updated on 21 January and is available on GOV.UK. According to the guidance, Type IIR fluid resistant surgical masks should be worn when providing direct care within two metres of a suspected/confirmed COVID-19 case. As such, these masks are distributed to health and care settings by the Department.
Due to the identification of new COVID-19 variants, the United Kingdom Infection Prevention Control Cell conducted a comprehensive review and assessed the available evidence in order to inform any necessary changes to the guidance for health workers, including recommended levels of PPE. Based on the evidence, they concluded that current PPE recommendations remain appropriate.
Emerging evidence and data on variant strains will be continually monitored and reviewed, and the guidance will be updated accordingly if needed.