Dr Jonathan Fluxman responds to a report about a Covid coughing study and calls for urgent change
Dr James Dodd’s research demonstrating the risks of coughing patients to NHS staff working everywhere is surely the last nail in the coffin of current infection prevention and control (IPC) guidance (Covid coughing study suggests NHS staff at far greater risk than thought, 3 February). We now know, conclusively, that any movement of air in and out of the chest generates aerosols, and the greater the respiratory effort (like deep breathing and coughing), the greater the volume of aerosols released.
Yet IPC guidance on Covid-19 still rests on the assumption that aerosols are generated only during certain medical procedures, despite evidence that most of the procedures release no or very few aerosols, and certainly less than a coughing, breathless patient with Covid-19. Some 883 healthcare workers have died, and one in four patients, or more, with Covid-19 have acquired the infection in hospitals. Every patient should be considered an “aerosol-generating person”, and the longer IPC guidance ignores this, the more healthcare workers and patients will catch Covid-19 and die from it in our hospitals.
Dr Jonathan Fluxman