Update from Simplyhealth on Coronavirus


Posted by Gudrun Ravetz, Head Veterinary Officer on 25/03/2020

Updated 27 March 2020

 

Update from Simplyhealth on Coronavirus

 

News around coronavirus is rapidly changing as more information and evidence is found. It is understandable that the situation may cause concern for veterinary employees and businesses as well as animal owners and keepers who use veterinary services. 

 

It is important that as a veterinary business and as individuals we stay up-to-date so we have provided some useful sources of information below.

 

Links for veterinary professionals on the latest Coronavirus updates:

 

 

Veterinary practice and Covid-19

 

Please regularly view the RCVS and BVA websites for detailed information.

 

On 23 March, new measures were announced by the government in the fight against Coronavirus. These require people to stay at home except for limited purposes and state further closures of non-essential businesses on top of those announced to close on 20 March.

 

As of the announcement on the 23rd March veterinary practices are not on the list of premises to close and can stay open however they must comply with the guidance on social distancing and only provide urgent treatment and emergency care (guidance on this is given by the BVA and RCVS). Practices will need to safeguard staff and public health and please note that the RCVS has stated: “As the regulator for veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses in the UK, our priority is the health and safety of those we regulate.” …”a clear acknowledgement that veterinary professionals may need to depart from our usual best practice advice and guidance, in order to safeguard personal and team safety and public health.” Further useful guidance is given on their website.

 

  • Practices need to consider and implement a practice-wide plan that:
    • Keeps client contact to a minimum and avoids all unnecessary client contact
    • Minimises contact between colleagues
    • Minimises non-essential staff
    • Carries out risk assessments for all staff and encourage those that are vulnerable to stay at home and enables all staff to work from home where possible
    • Reviews the type of work that is appropriate, necessary and safe to be undertaking.  Please see BVA guidance. The RCVS guidance is that …”animals should only be seen in emergencies or where, in the judgement of the veterinary surgeon, urgent assessment and/or treatment is needed in order to reduce the risk of patient deterioration to the point where it may become an emergency in the near future (ie within the three-week time frame currently laid out by the Government for these measures).”
    • Stops all non-essential work
    • Uses technology to triage and consult and considers remote prescribing according to RCVS guidelines
    • Increases hygiene precautions

 

If it is deemed necessary for a client to visit the practice to provide emergency care:

 

  • Keep client contact to a minimum and consider:
    • One client per animal
    • Ask the client to wait in the car
    • Use technology where at all possible for triage of existing clients
    • Review updated guidance on remote prescribing (RCVS FAQ 4)
    • Clarify client’s Covid-19 status
  • Hygiene
    • Consider card payments only
    • Regular cleaning of high-risk areas (door handles, light switches, keyboard)
    • Insist owners wash hands on arrival
    • Disinfection between clients
  • Consulting
    • Consults only for clients deemed absolutely necessary
    • Stop all routine, non-essential consultations
    • Use technology and remote consultation
    • Home working using technology where possible

 

Remote Prescribing and POM-V medication

 

Ordinarily remote prescribing of POM-V medication is not permitted however given the current situation the RCVS Council made a decision on the 24th March to temporarily allow remote prescribing of POM-V medication. ...”You may prescribe POM-V medicines via remote means where there is no other option, eg a medicine categorised as a POM-VPS, NFA-VPS, or AVM-GSL, that would be a suitable alternative and you are satisfied that any risk to the animal is outweighed by the benefit.” Please see further guidance in the RCVS FAQs.

 

Email Prescriptions and Posting medication

 

In order to minimise client contact and enable clients to receive medications for their pets it may be necessary to use email prescriptions and post medication.  Please see the BSAVA Guide to the Use of Veterinary Medicines for information and guidance. 

 

Client Communication

 

It is important to communicate with clients to inform them of what to expect when coming to the practice and for them to consider if the visit is absolutely necessary so that animal welfare can be maintained without unnecessary risk to human health. As an example you may wish to use the following:

 

Your pet’s welfare is important to all of us but in these unsettling times, it is important that we look after all of our health and therefore we need to minimise people entering the practice. 

 

  • Please phone us first before coming to the practice. We can help to better understand if your visit is necessary and provide help and guidance on the phone and information for you if you do need to visit. If the practice thinks you need to attend then only one person is to come with the pet.
  • Our external door will be locked so please wait in the car when you arrive, call reception and the vet will come out to the car park. It may be that we ask you to wait in the car and the vet will take your pet into the practice.  Please do not worry the vet will consult with you over the phone while they examine your pet. 
  • Please pay by card and use the hand sanitisers available throughout the practice.

 

We appreciate that these are unsettling times for all of us and that you are worried about the welfare of your pet. Please be assured we are doing everything that we can to make sure we all stay safe and maintain pet welfare. It may be that we must limit the services that we can safely provide while still providing for pet welfare. 

 

We want to thank you for your co-operation and together we can all help.

 

Covid–19 and animals

 

While current evidence suggests an animal source for Covid-19 ongoing transmission is predominantly person to person and there is currently no evidence that pets may be a source of infection for people. Vets should continue to take the usual precautions when handling animals and animal products in line with good biosecurity.  Please see the OIE website for further information.

 

  • It has been confirmed that a pet dog in Hong Kong has tested weak positive for Covid-19.  This indicates a low level of transmission and is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission. The dog has shown no clinical signs. The same thing happened in the SARS outbreak when a very small number of pets tested positive for the virus but did not transmit it to humans or the same species. The advice for pet owners who have been tested positive or are self-isolating is to keep pets isolated with them but restrict contact with them and avoid being licked and wash hands regularly after contact with their pet.
  • Canine coronavirus (mild diarrhoea) and Feline coronavirus (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) are both alpha-coronaviruses and are not associated with Covid-19.
  • The BVA has advice for pet owners diagnosed with Covid-19 and will update it regularly.

 

The British Veterinary Association have produced an informative webinar on the 21 March which gives practical guidance but please note some of this is now superseded by the measures given by the government on the 23 March, therefore please regularly review the websites of the BVA and RCVS.  There will be a second BVA webinar on the 29 March.    

 

We’re continuing to monitor the situation in the UK and will update our advice and support as things develop.

 

Gudrun Ravetz

Head Veterinary Officer

COVID-19 and the veterinary profession

 

Recently, the BVA has shared this excellent webinar on best practice for vets during these unusual and unsettling times. Click the button below to watch it:

Watch now