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Cohorting of COVID-19 positive patients & staff

Cohort areas

If a single/isolation room is not available, cohort possible or confirmed respiratory infected patients with other patients with suspected/probable or confirmed COVID-19. Use privacy curtains between the beds to minimise opportunities for close contact. Where possible, a designated self-contained area or wing of the healthcare facility should be used for the treatment and care of patients with COVID-19. This area should:

  • Include a reception area that is separate from the rest of the facility and should, if feasible, have a separate entrance/exit from the rest of the building
  • Not be used as a thoroughfare by other patients, visitors or staff, including patients being transferred, staff going for meal breaks, and staff and visitors entering and exiting the building
  • Be separated from non-segregated areas by closed doors
  • Have signage displayed warning of the segregated area to control entry

Hospitals should consider creating cohort areas which differentiate the level of care required. It may also be prudent to consider:

  • The need for cohorting in single/mixed sex wards/bays
  • Underlying patient conditions (e.g., immunocompromised)
  • Age groups when cohorting children
  • Routine childhood vaccination status when cohorting children

 Staff cohorting

Assigning a dedicated team of staff to care for patients in isolation/cohort rooms/areas is an additional infection control measure. This should be implemented whenever there are sufficient levels of staff available (so as not to have a negative impact on unaffected patients’ care).

Maintain consistency in staff allocation where possible and reduce movement of staff and the cross over of care pathways where feasible between planned and elective care pathways and urgent and emergency care pathways. Wherever possible, reduce staff movement between different areas.

Staff who have had confirmed COVID-19 and have recovered should continue to follow the infection control precautions, including personal protective equipment (PPE).

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