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Home > Guidance for health system contingency planning during widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 with high impact on healthcare services.

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. (2020) Guidance for health system contingency planning during widespread transmission of SARS-CoV-2 with high impact on healthcare services. Stockholm: ECDC.

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This document aims to support public health preparedness planning and response activities when advising healthcare services on approaches on how to increase capacity for managing COVID-19 cases in the context of widespread sustained SARS-CoV-2 transmission in a particular community.

Guiding principles for contingency planning

Frontline healthcare workers are the most important asset in the prevention and control of COVID-19. All measures taken should reflect this. However, support staff within the health system also play a vital role by facilitating healthcare activities and therefore should be part of all plans and arrangements. The implementation of business continuity measures to support all staff is therefore vital.

Related to the above point is the need for a functioning supply chain and the flexibility to quickly increase the volumes of certain key equipment and products. If not already in place, supply chain management systems should be established.

Essential healthcare system services should not suffer because of the additional demands brought about by the management of COVID-19 cases; non-essential services need to be reviewed regularly against other pressing demands that may be more urgent.

Referring to pandemic influenza plans may be useful, but COVID-19 is different, particularly in the distribution of cases across age groups and the uncertainties surrounding treatment options. Therefore, impact and mitigation measures suggested in pandemic plans should be carefully reviewed and adjusted to the current situation.

Contingency planning within the primary care setting

Primary care is a vital part of the healthcare system and has a role in minimising the burden of COVID-19 cases presenting at hospital facilities. At the same time, primary care needs to maintain its normal activities. It needs to be appropriately engaged and advised to work effectively as gatekeeper to acute care.....

[See also, related publications below with advice for healthcare workers]

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