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Hygiene Guidelines for people providing neighbourhood support

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We want to emphasise that our aim as community organisations should be to prevent as many infections happening as possible, and – where this isn’t possible – to reduce the number of cases that need serious hospital care.

This is challenging because Covid-19/coronavirus is very infectious. It’s transmitted through droplets and contact with contaminated surfaces. For example, someone who has the virus sneezes, and then touches a door handle, or a supermarket self checkout, or a bank ATM. You use it afterwards and accidentally touch your face in between hand washing.

You might catch the virus, and have a very mild case with few/no symptoms, but still be a carrier. Kids in particular are at low risk, but might spread the virus.

In short: anyone could be infected with the virus, and could be spreading it while having no symptoms or very few symptoms, but you still be a carrier (asymptomatic).

It’s great that we have a so many members who want to offer support. Thanks so much for your concern and willingness to help.

The best way we can help is by helping safely, and following health advice to reduce transmission.

Please take the time to read the tips below. We need to take the tips below very seriously to take the best possible care of our loved ones and our community and to avoid making the number of cases worse. If you have any questions – please ask. If you’ve read and will be adhering to the measures – please let us know!These measures are taken from the Queercare Network.

They have been approved by medical professionals, and “will be updated continuously and rapidly and with the approval and oversight of qualified medical professionals, until the pandemic is over, whereupon they can be safely ignored”.

We will endeavour to ensure the information copied below is kept up to date, but if in doubt – see the website at: queercare.network/policy-for-doing-support-work-in-the-covid-19-pandemic/ for the most up to date version:

  1. People doing support work should have as low a chance of being infected as is possible.
  2. If people are infected, they should have as low a chance of passing on the infection as is possible. Systems should be designed on the assumption that everyone is infected.
  3. If someone is showing symptoms of infection, it should be easy to trace all contact they have had with at-risk people. They should cease doing support work immediately.
  4. The minimum number of people should be able to have direct or indirect contact with at-risk people, in order to reduce their possible exposure to infection.
  5. All meetings should be done remotely through digital means where possible. Where it is absolutely necessary for people to meet, they should have minimal contact.
  6. Thorough hand washing should be done frequently, and always done following touching the face, or using public transportation.
  7. Wearing gloves should be done while handling all items which may be given to people who are immuno-compromised and while in proximity to anyone who may be infected. Aprons should be worn around anyone who may be infected.
  8. All items given to someone at risk must be disinfected on all surfaces that will be handled by them.
  9. Public transport should be avoided where possible. Where this is unavoidable, public transport should be used by as few people as possible as infrequently as possible.
  10. Disinfection must be carried out after items are taken on public transport.
  11. Masks should be worn where possible, both by people doing support, and by people needing support. Masks should be worn in line with manufacturer recommendations, which for paper masks is no more than 15 minutes of effective use.

[On their website, each policy item includes a bracketed list of the relevant principles of doing support work in the COVID-19 pandemic (https://queercare.network/principles-and-assumptions-for-doing-support-work-in-the-covid-19-pandemic/), which are also worth reading.]

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