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Coronavirus guidance for pharmacists issued

The International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) has issued new guidance for community and hospital pharmacists on how they can help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The guidance, published yesterday (February 6), was put together by an emergency taskforce that included Chinese pharmacists after the World Health Organization designated the latest outbreak of coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

The FIP document explains what coronaviruses are and how the current strand (2019-nCoV) is spread, as well as listing its symptoms and the symptomatic treatments that are currently available.

It sets out the medicines and equipment pharmacies should keep in stock, advice on using masks and the respective responsibilities and roles of community and hospital pharmacists in informing and counselling members of the public and helping prevent the disease.

There is a ‘decision tree’ featuring steps pharmacy teams should follow in a range of scenarios (e.g. if a patient presents at the pharmacy who is symptomatic and has recently travelled to parts of the world affected by the outbreak, the pharmacist should contact health authorities to initiate the care protocol).

Taskforce chair Jane Dawson said: “Since pharmacies are often the first point of contact with the health system and given that cases have already been seen in a number of countries, it is important that the whole pharmacy workforce is well informed and prepared.”

Mrs Dawson said that while the guidance “is aligned with characteristics particular to the system of pharmacy in China, it contains valuable expertise that can be used by pharmacists around the world, and it complements FIP’s guidance for an international audience”.

She added: “As demonstrated by previous SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV outbreaks, coronavirus infections can be contained through the active engagement of decision makers, healthcare professionals and the community.

“This guidance is a valuable resource to ensure preparedness of our workforce in combating this new coronavirus and perhaps future ones. It also highlights the huge benefit of international collaboration via FIP.”

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