Due to concerns about increased transmissibility of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, this guidance is being updated to enhance protection for healthcare personnel (HCP), patients, and visitors and address concerns about potential impacts on the healthcare system given a surge of SARS-CoV-2 infections. These updates will be refined as additional information becomes available to inform recommended actions.
• Ensure that SARS-CoV-2 testing is performed with a test capable of detecting external icon SARS-CoV-2, even with currently circulating variants in the United States.
• Updated recommendations regarding when HCP with SARS-CoV-2 infection could return to work
• The definition of higher-risk exposure was updated to include using a facemask (instead of a respirator) by HCP if the infected patient is not also wearing a facemask or cloth mask.
• Added options that would allow asymptomatic HCP with a higher-risk exposure who have not received all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including booster dose, as recommended by CDC to return to work prior to the previously recommended 14-day post-exposure period of work restriction, assuming they do not develop symptoms or test positive for SARS-CoV-2.
Key takeaways include:
• Health care workers with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and who are not immunocompromised can return to work after seven days with a negative test in the last 48 hours, or 10 days with either no test results or a positive test result at day five to seven.
• Health care workers who have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccine doses, including a booster, can continue working after high-risk exposure through testing 24 hours and again five to seven days after exposure is recommended.
The CDC noted that these guidelines only apply to the health care workforce and may be revised to continue to protect both health care workers and patients as additional information on the Omicron variant becomes available to inform recommended actions. The agency also updated its guidance to limit the effects of staff shortages caused by COVID-19 on patient care.
If a patient has suspected/confirmed COVID-19, the ADA recommends that dentists:
• Defer nonemergency procedures. Give the patient a mask, send them home if not acutely sick and/or refer a visibly sick patient to the appropriate facility.
• Clean and disinfect the operatory and equipment according to the CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings. This includes cleaning, disinfecting, or discarding the surface, supplies, or equipment located within 6 feet of symptomatic patients and using products with Environment Protection Agency-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that have qualified under EPA’s emerging viral pathogens program from use against COVID-19.
The CDC has also updated its guidance for the public. On Dec. 27, the agency released new recommendations for people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic.
According to the updated guidance, the recommended isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 but do not have symptoms is five days, down from the agency's previous recommendation of 10 days. The change was prompted by the “science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the [one to two] days prior to onset of symptoms and the [two to three] days after,” according to a CDC news release.
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