Infection prevention and control in COVID-19

This article summarises the relevant WHO guidance for educational purposes for healthcare professionals.

How can professionals prevent the spread of COVID-19?

  • Early identification and isolation of suspected COVID-19 cases

  • Using precautions whilst caring for any patient

  • Using additional precautions whilst caring for suspected COVID-19 cases

Isolating suspected COVID-19 patients:

Healthcare professionals should aim to identify possible COVID-19 cases early by maintaining a low threshold to consider COVID-19 and by implementing early triage stations and questionnaires.

Using standard precautions during care of all patients:

Patients with suspected COVID-19 should be given face masks for public waiting areas, respiratory hygiene and rigorous hand hygiene should be applied. Healthcare professionals should use the WHO 5 moments for hand hygiene.

Using additional precautions for suspected COVID-19 patients:

As per WHO guidance routine care of suspected COVID-19 patients requires

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

  • Surgical mask

  • Eye or face shield

  • Long sleeved gown

  • Gloves

Considerations in the patient environment:

  • Patient to have dedicated or single use equipment (thermometer, BP cuff, stethoscope) and/or cleaned with 70% ethyl alcohol between patients

  • Rooms should be ventilated at 60 L/s per patient

  • Avoid moving patients from their rooms

  • Limit number of people coming into contact with the patient

  • Keep log of healthcare contacts with the patient


As per WHO guidance aerosol-generating procedures require:


  • Eye protection – goggles or face sheild

  • A seal-checked particulate respirator equivalent to NIOSH-certified N95 or EU standard FFP2

  • Long sleeved gown

  • Gloves

Considerations in the patient environment:

  • Rooms ventilated at 160L/s per patient or negative pressure rooms with 12 changes/hour

  • Absolute minimum personnel to enter room







World Health Organisation. Infection prevention and control during health care when COVID-19 is suspected, Interim Guidance, March 2020. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 1.6.20]

Written by Dr Rachel Coles, education fellow, 1st June 2020.

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