There are a lot of questions regarding COVID-19 and how a person might contract the virus, how it is spread and what to do if they become infected. Axxess has provided resources that address many of these concerns. After an infection is confirmed, there are often questions around when it is safe to return to work. While there isn’t any definitive rule around this, there are some guidelines to follow.
For healthcare personnel with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, there are two strategies suggested by the CDC for occupational health programs and public health officials to determine when a worker may return to work in a healthcare setting.
- Test-based strategy. Exclude from work until:
- Resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and
- Negative results of an FDA Emergency Use Authorized molecular assay for COVID-19 from at least two consecutive nasopharyngeal swab specimens collected 24 or more hours apart.
- At least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath), and
- At least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
After returning to work, healthcare personnel should:
- Always wear a face mask while in the healthcare setting until all symptoms are completely resolved or until 14 days after illness onset, whichever is longer
- Be restricted from contact with severely immunocompromised patients (e.g., transplant, hematology-oncology) until 14 days after illness onset
- Adhere to hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, and cough etiquette (cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, dispose of tissues in waste receptacles)
- Self-monitor for symptoms and seek re-evaluation from occupational health if respiratory symptoms recur or worsen
When providing education to patients or clients about returning to work after COVID-19 infection, remind them to check with their employer for any policies that may apply. Those who have recovered from COVID-19 should return to work only after all symptoms have resolved. Employers may require a note from the employee’s physician clearing them to return to work. An employer might alternatively require the employee to undergo a medical examination at the employer’s expense, determining whether the employee is fit for duty prior to returning to work.
Precautions taken early to prevent the spread of the disease, as well as precautions when returning to work, are vital to keeping clinicians, caregivers, and those you serve, safe and healthy from the spread of COVID-19.