Finland’s PPE guidance for healthcare workers (HCW) has been updated following the Kanta-Häme hospital Delta variant outbreak. “The use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.”
“Generally, HCWs have a higher risk of contracting a COVID-19 infection compared to the general population. Despite the high exposure to SARS-CoV-2, none of the ICU workers got a clear occupational COVID-19 infection, whereas working in a cohort COVID-19 ward or a normal ward with COVID-19 patients seems to have a high-risk association for occupational COVID-19 infections.
All ICU workers and most laboratory workers used FFP2/3 respirators and aerosol precautions when working with COVID-19 patients, whereas the PPE used in the wards followed droplet precautions with surgical masks. Notably, 29.3% of the infections were from colleagues, thus also requiring special attention for social distances and infection control measures between co-workers.
As practical implications, the use of FFP2/3 respirators in all patient contacts with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients is recommended.
Also, as a high number of COVID-19 infections and exposures among HCWs are from colleagues, the authors recommend the use of universal masking during the shift, also in personnel rooms. Safety distances and other means of infection control in the hospital environment need more research and implementation in the workplace to ensure HCWs’ safety during pandemics.
Finland research paper: Sources of Healthcare worker’s Covid-19 infections and related safety guidlines