Many veterinary businesses have been concerned that the contact tracing programmes across the UK could potentially force practices to shut down.
Public Health England has now provided specific guidance, via the Chief Veterinary Officer, in relation to PPE and continued provision of veterinary services:
PHE fully recognises the importance of veterinary services and the impact that disruption of services can have in some rural communities.
• when a confirmed case of COVID-19 occurs, the determination of who should be considered contacts and who should be advised to isolate follows the same principles regardless of the sector involved.
• where the contact has occurred with a veterinary worker and they have been wearing full PPE at the time, equivalent to the standard required in the NHS (see PHE guidance on PPE standard), the veterinary worker would be considered to have had adequate protection against transmission and should not be advised to self-isolate.
• in most circumstances, however, it would be expected that veterinary workers identified as close contacts of (human) cases of COVID-19 will not have been wearing PPE and will therefore be advised to self-isolate.
• in the event that an incident occurs where veterinary workers are identified as contacts and advised to self-isolate, and this leads to a major problem with the provision of veterinary services in an area, the incident can be discussed with the local PHE Health Protection Team who will decide whether a local risk assessment is warranted. The local risk assessment will take into account any other mitigating factors that may have reduced the risk of infection and will provide advice as to who should self-isolate.
Government tracing programmes across the UK are different for each of the four nations. The RCVS has provided details of the system in place in each nation here.