Nursing home residents advised to ‘dance alone’ this winter

Nursing home residents should dance alone at a distance from others, or with the same partner, to reduce the risk of Covid-19 or flu during recreational activities this winter, according to new guidance.

The curbs on group activities also extend to watching a film in close proximity to others.  

The guidelines come from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

When sing-songs are under way, the guidance states residents should “maintain as much distance and ventilation as practical and keep groups small”.

It tells nursing homes that residents who have symptoms of viral respiratory tract infection should be double-checked to see if they have Covid-19 or flu this winter.

If playing bingo, residents need to have individual answer sheets and markers.

The guidance has been released amid concern that flu will present a significant risk to older people in the coming months.

Within the literature, it is emphasised how Covid-19 can survive on plastic for up to 72 hours, for 48 hours on stainless steel and up to eight hours on copper when no cleaning is performed.

Common household cleaning products and many disinfectants, including bleach, easily kill Covid-19 and influenza virus, it said.

“Based on experience through the pandemic, infection as a result of persistence of viable virus on surfaces for long periods appears to be very uncommon.”

The guidelines point out: “It is important to note that people who are fully vaccinated and who become infected may have very mild symptoms but be infectious.”

This poses a risk, in particular for residents who are not vaccinated or who may not have had a good response to a vaccine.

The guidelines add: “Residential care facilities residents with influenza virus infection may have very similar clinical features to residents with Covid-19.

“It is important to consider and test for both viruses when clinically relevant.”

The European disease watchdog warned yesterday that the main strain of flu found in Europe in the last month is A(H3N2).

This strain disproportionally affects older people and is associated with lower vaccine effectiveness.

It warned that staff should be informed not to attend work if they have fever, a cough, shortness of breath, or any kind of new respiratory symptoms. This continues to apply to staff after vaccination.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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