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Taskforce publishes guidance to help healthcare workers and organisations make decisions about PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic

10 June, 2021

Following today’s publication of the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG)’s Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the context of COVID-19, the Taskforce has now published its full set of consensus guidance on the use of P2/N95 respirators, surgical masks and eye protection on the online guideline platform MAGICapp.

This set of guidance, including recommendations, background to deliberations, eye protection practice principles, remarks and case scenarios was developed by the joint Taskforce/ICEG Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Panel and approved by all 32 Taskforce members and the ICEG.

The Taskforce-approved recommendations and supporting material were provided to the ICEG and used to inform development of the ICEG guidance published today.

IPC Panel Co-Chair Dr Phillipa Hore said it was an important step towards ensuring healthcare workers are adequately protected during the pandemic.

‘We understand the ongoing potential for COVID-19 transmission within healthcare settings and we’re pleased that this published guidance will help healthcare workers and organisations make informed decisions about the use of PPE.

‘We recognise the need for guidance that is based on the best available research evidence. The Taskforce has undertaken a broad, rigorous, systematic review of evidence and continues to update it as new research becomes available. This guidance will help HCWs to ensure they can safely and confidently care for their patients, clients and residents.’

The 17-member IPC Panel draws on some of Australia’s foremost experts in evidence-based clinical practice, infection prevention and control, occupation and environmental health, occupational hygiene and clinical engineering.

Taskforce Executive Director A/Prof Julian Elliott praised the Panel for their commitment to developing this consensus guidance.

‘This has been a complex and challenging area with many different perspectives involved. I thank the Panel for their generosity in providing countless hours of their time, expertise and insights.

‘With little reliable, direct epidemiological evidence to underpin recommendations, the Panel was required to develop these consensus recommendations based on their combined experience and expertise.

‘I particularly thank Panel Co-chairs A/Prof John Ferguson and Dr Phillipa Hore for their outstanding leadership in navigating this collaborative process. We also acknowledge the broader contribution of the Taskforce Guidelines Leadership Group and Steering Committee in achieving consensus across their member organisations.’

The Taskforce also recognises the contribution of the healthcare workers who volunteered to participate in our consultation to better understand implications for implementation of the guidance.

The Taskforce guidance has been developed using a ‘living evidence’ approach which allows guidance to be regularly updated as new evidence becomes available.

The Taskforce continues to conduct daily searches for new evidence to inform its recommendations.

View the full set of Taskforce PPE guidance at the Australian guidelines for SARS-CoV-2 infection prevention and control of COVID-19 in healthcare workers (Version 1.0)