Advice for Veterinary Practices
It is clear that the current Test and Trace schemes could potentially lead to entire veterinary practice teams being forced to self-isolate if just one team member contracts the virus, because of the necessity of vets and veterinary teams to work closely together in clinical practice. This could potentially lead to closure of veterinary practices with serious knock-on effects on animal welfare and veterinary business.
Steps that veterinary practices could take to mitigate the risks include:
- Maintaining 2 metres social / physical distancing measures within teams as much as possible
- Minimising the time that team members need to work within 1 to 2 metres of each other to less than 15 minutes
- Dividing the workforce into smaller fixed teams so that not all team members come into contact with each other – where possible fixed teams of two people should be considered
- Wearing appropriate PPE in situations where maintaining appropriate social distancing is not possible
- Making arrangements with neighbouring practices to help and support each other when required
The BVA, with our support, has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care outlining our concerns about the contact tracing programmes, and asking the government to alter the system so that people working in a veterinary context are considered in a similar vein as those working in human healthcare settings, schools, and prisons. In the English system these are the ‘Tier 1’ calls, which are handled by local public health experts, thereby allowing for more nuanced discussions with people who would understand our clinical ways of working and how to assess the level of risk if a contact has been with colleagues who have been wearing PPE. We are also asking for veterinary professionals to be amongst those who are prioritised for access to the additional testing as it is rolled out. This would enable those who are self- isolating but not infected to get out of self-isolation quickly and return to the practice rota.