The Slovenia Times

Quarantine guidance for health staff changed to cope with shortages


Ljubljana - The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) has issued new quarantine guidance to allow the healthcare system cope with staff shortages amid the Omicron-driven spread of infections. Given shortages, the personnel who have been in contact with an infected person are not required to self-isolate if they do not show symptoms.

The NIJZ has issued a three-tiered set of coronavirus recommendations for organisation of work at healthcare institutions, depending on the availability of healthcare staff.

The third, top phase, kicks in when the number of available staff is reduced to a point where the ability to provide care is jeopardised. Three hospitals have already or will shortly switch to that phase.

In that phase, a worker who has had a high-risk contact with an infected person is required to wear the personal protective equipment prescribed for the particular work station, that is at least a face mask, while they are also required to carefully monitor their health condition over the next 14 days.

They are not required to self-isolate in that phase, however if they develop symptoms within the 14-days, they must stop performing the job where they risk infecting their colleagues or patients. They are also required to test.

If they have had a high-risk contact several days ago, they are required to test for coronavirus immediately.

The Health Ministry has told the STA that health institutions comply with NIJZ recommendations under which the hospital infection services prescribe the protocol adjusted to the local situation for each hospital.

The ministry has also said that most of the hospitals have declared the third phase. The director of the Ptuj General Hospital Anica Užmah has confirmed for the STA they did so on Wednesday and the Celje General Hospital was to do so today, with the Šempeter hospital to follow suit shortly.

"However, we will decide on the involvement of staff in work processes after a high-risk contact on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the exposure and specifics of the work process," the Celje hospital said.

They also said that such staff were required to test regularly, wear special PPE and exert caution during lunch breaks and in locker rooms.

For the first phase, when enough health staff is available, the NIJZ recommends for the worker after a risk contact to be removed for ten days from work processes where they could transmit the disease.

In the second phase, when the availability of staff is limited, health staff who have been in contact with an infected person are to be removed for seven days from work processes entailing the risk of transmission.

However, the health staff who have had booster shots are not required to be removed from the work process, although they are advised to test as soon as they learn about having had a risk contact and retest two days later.


More from Society