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Statement on prevention and management of patients at risk of severe forms of Covid-19 and on priority access to diagnostic tests

In order to supplement the two provisional statements dated 10 and 14 March 2020, the French High Council for Public Health (Haut Conseil de la santé publique, HCSP) is issuing updated recommendations that take into account the knowledge now available. The HCSP is updating and clarifying the list of people at risk of severe forms of Covid-19 as well as of people who, as the situation currently stands, should be given access to diagnostic testing as a priority.

With respect to people at risk of severe forms of Covid-19, the HCSP underscores the need to comply with the basic protective and social distancing measures, give precedence to remote consultations and limit travel to places at high risk of SARS-CoV2 transmission, such as waiting rooms or health facilities.

The HCSP also recommends postponing any non-essential hospital admissions and giving precedence to home-based treatments. During hospital stays, the application of basic protective measures is particularly essential.

In nursing homes, visits must be restricted, or even prohibited in some cases (care homes for dependent elderly people), group activities must no longer be held and residents must not be permitted to leave the homes. Surgical masks must systematically be worn by staff and even greater store must be set by hand hygiene.

With respect to nursing staff at risk of severe forms of Covid-19, the occupational health service must assess the situation with a view to considering exclusion from services at high risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and reorganisation of working arrangements. Such nursing staff must avoid all contact with a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patient and wear a surgical mask the whole time they are on duty. In the event of contact with a Covid-19 patient, the statement describes the action to take.

Finally, the management of Covid-19 cases in patients at risk of severe forms depends on the clinical presentation of the illness and is described in the statement.

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