Covid-19 – What should osteopaths do?

Public Health England has clear advice which is regularly updated:

There is advice for every eventuality if you have travelled to a country with Covid-19 cases or if you come into contact with someone.

I’m sure I won’t be telling you anything new but hopefully drawing together some key information to help us in clinic. We have a responsibility to take our part in trying to limit the spread of the virus and supporting the Public Health England advice.

Practice good hand hygiene

Recognise symptoms

Symptoms of Covid-19 are:


Difficulty in breathing

Fever – over 38 degrees

The Lancet has identified the symptoms from cases of coronavirus as follows:

  • Fever – 98%.
  • Cough – 76%.
  • Shortness of breath – 55%.
  • Muscle ache or tiredness – 44%.
  • Coughing up sputum – 28%.
  • Headache – 8%.
  • Coughing up blood – 5%.

A runny nose and sneezing are not considered symptomatic of Covid-19. If a person doesn’t have a fever it is very unlikely they have the virus.

The list of high risk countries is getting longer but you should be alert if someone has been away to one of the high risk regions. Now though there is potential that the virus may be picked up within the UK without travel so you need to remain vigilant.

Someone ill in your clinic

If someone comes to your clinic and you identify them as being at risk of or having symptoms of Covid-19 you should isolate them in your clinic in a room where you can shut the door and call NHS 111. Patients should not be sent home putting more people at risk on their journey.

After they leave

After a potentially infected patient leaves your clinic you should use detergent/disinfectant to thoroughly clean all equipment and surfaces. Single-use mop heads and cloths should be used and these must be disposed of. Clean communal areas thoroughly too.

High risk countries

As of 2nd March 2020 action should be taken if patients have returned from the following countries:

  • Mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan or Thailand and experience symptoms, however mild, within two weeks.
  • Northern Italy (defined by a line above and not including Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar since February 19thand experience symptoms, however mild.
  • Iran, specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy or special care zones in South Korea since 19thFebruary, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
  • Wuhan or Hubei Province of China in the last fourteen days.

You may wish to advise patients not to book in for 14 days if they have been to these countries. Also you may wish to make clear that any patients who are waiting for a test result, self-isolating or have been in close contact with someone with the virus should not come to your clinic.

You should apply these rules to yourself as well if you travel to any of the high risk countries or if you start experiencing symptoms of covid-19.

Keep up to date

Keep a close eye on Public Health England advice as it is likely to change daily as cases continue to rise in the UK.

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