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DHA updates guide for private healthcare facilities

Enhances safeguards against the spread of COVID-19

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The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has issued a number of updates on the precautionary measures to be followed by private healthcare facilities in Dubai.

These are aimed at further enhancing safeguards against the spread of COVID-19 and strengthening the Dubai health system’s preparedness to provide the required medical care for the population.

Effective from 27 January 2021, all private health facilities are required to ensure full compliance with the updated set of precautionary measures. Failure to comply will result in legal action.

The circular directs private health facilities to abide by the following precautionary measures and instructions:

In order to avoid crowds in health facilities, all appointments must be booked in advance. There should be a minimum interval of 20 minutes between appointments. A minimum distance of two meters should be maintained by patients in waiting areas.

All staff and visitors should continue to wear masks at all times and strictly comply with physical distancing guidelines.

The hospital should note patients’ medical history and details of exposure to suspected COVID-19 cases and maintain strict adherence to COVID-19 standards and guidelines.

Aerosol Generating Procedures

In managing Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGP) in specialties like dentistry and ENT, the following precautions must be strictly followed:

Patients should be assessed prior to any procedure to ensure they are free from COVID-19 symptoms.

In dealing with confirmed COVID-19 cases, the health facility should ensure that necessary measures are taken to transfer the patient to a health facility that provides the service and is equipped with negative pressure treatment rooms to protect medical staff and prevent the spread of the virus.

Personal protective equipment

The DHA also stressed the need to ensure all staff wears PPE in order to ensure the highest level of protection and safety for both patients and medical staff.

All professionals must comply with the updated guidelines for healthcare professionals concerning COVID-19 and facilities must ensure they have sufficient stock of PPE and sanitizer for all staff and visitors.

Telemedicine

The DHA called on health facilities to continue using telemedicine services to provide medical services while ensuring that it does not conflict with the other provisions of its updated protocols. Telehealth services do not require a separate license at this time, provided they adhere to the authority's standards for telehealth services.

The DHA also called on limiting in-person training and continuous medical education activities within the health facility and using e-learning and distance learning methods as alternatives.

Entertainment and waiting areas

The DHA instructed private health facilities to close children’s play and entertainment areas so that they can disinfect all amenities in the facility with special attention given to the reception, patient waiting areas, consulting rooms, elevators, and door handles. Disinfection processes should be comprehensively documented.

Private health facilities must also provide hand disinfectant and sanitizer at their entrances and reception areas and raise awareness among patients about the importance of regular hand hygiene and sterilization to prevent transmission.

Health facilities should place banners and posters at their entrances and elevators explaining the preventive measures focused on protection, prevention of transmission, and proper social distancing among customers and employees.

PCR testing

Private healthcare facilities must perform COVID-19 PCR tests in approved laboratories for any suspected cases requiring medical procedures or intervention. All circulars, standards, and guidelines issued by the DHA regarding the management of COVID-19 should be stringently complied with.