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Covid-19 pandemic

Covid-19 pandemic

Best practices for Community Pharmacists

1. Safety of staff

  • Staff rotation to prevent overwork
  • High risk staff (elderly, staff with co-morbidities) to do back office job rather than be front liners who come in contact with patients
  • Staff who has a member of their household or vicinity infected with Covid-19 should not come to work.
  • PPE (personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, etc) should be provided. They should be discarded after each session of work.
  • Hand sanitizers should be available both for staff and for all customers visiting the pharmacy
  • Staff testing: an advocacy should be made to the government through the Pharmacy Council and Association of pharmacists for Covid-19 testing for pharmacists and their staff as they are frontliners and are at potential risk of coming in contact with infected patients.

2. Opening hours

  • Adjust your opening hours so that staff and yourself are not overstretched for work. This can cause physical and mental exhaustion and impact on the care you provide to patients
  • If need be, discuss with colleagues in your region to provide a service on a rotation basis

3. How to promote social distancing

  • Control at doorways to organise the flow of customers in the pharmacy
  • Distance of at least 1 m between each customer (markings or tapings)
  • Limit interactions (eg patients can fax/email/text prescriptions and collect when ready, home delivery services, contactless payment methods, etc)
  • Avoid long stays in pharmacies by patients
  • Allow enough space between employees
  • Advise patients to visit the pharmacy if strictly necessary to limit exposure
  • Patients to avoid visiting the pharmacy if they are elderly or have other diseases. Whenever possible, such patients should be advised to ask a family member, a friend or a neighbour to go to the pharmacy instead of them.

4. Patient awareness

  • Use the pharmacy as a health promotion outlet for Covid-19 awareness, management and precautions to be taken (leaflets, posters should be displayed)
  • If the pharmacy has a social media page or website, the awareness of the disease should be highlighted on these platforms.
  • Patients should be advised to stay calm, polite and patient and to wait for their turn. Police security might be warranted in certain cases to tackle aggressive customers or to control flow of patients

5. Infection control measures

  • Cleaning the pharmacy on a regular basis (especially those areas that can increase risk of spread: counter tops, door handles, switches, etc).
    Disposable materials should be used.
  • Deep cleaning through a cleaning service company if need be
  • Staff to change uniform on a daily basis and to avoid jewellery, wrist watches, etc while working to reduce risk of transmission
  • Proper hand washing facilities and techniques
  • Proper waste management

6. Ensuring stock availability and discipline in selling

  • Ensuring availability of products especially those for flu symptoms like paracetamol, drugs for chronic diseases, etc. Wholesalers/Distributors to also play their part.
  • Prioritisation of what is needed most during this period in terms of stock holding
  • Counsel on panic buying.
  • Limit number of packs in certain cases.
  • Discuss alternatives with the patient’s doctor if a particular product is out of stock during this period
  • Hydroxychloroquine tablet which has been recommended by some experts as a potential treatment for Covid-19 should be strictly sold on medical prescription.

Sadeck Vawda
Pharmacist/General Manager
MSJ Ltd (Unicorn)