Confine services: VCI issues updated Covid-19 guidelines

The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI) has issued updated guidelines in accordance with the increased restrictions brought in by the Government to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The council issued the guidelines on Saturday, March 28.

In its guidelines, the VCI outlined that veterinary service providers should confine their services to “those supporting food production, in addition to emergency care at this time”.

All registrants over 70 years-of-age and those with underlying health conditions are requested to shield or cocoon, as per the direction of the Taoiseach.

Providing guidance in assessing “emergency and urgent care” during the current coronavirus crisis, the council added:

“An urgent or emergency matter, is one giving rise to animal welfare concerns, requiring veterinary assistance. Any urgent matter should be interpreted as presenting a significant risk to life or clear risk to welfare if not assessed.

“Emergency or urgent matters, and those potentially urgent matters should receive veterinary assistance, as an essential service.

This should be carried out at the veterinary practice or on farm, having regard to the safeguards and measures recommended by public health guidelines.

The council notes that these public health guidelines include: physical distance being strictly adhered at all times; minimising contact with the animal owner; requesting assistance from a practice colleague such as another vet, nurse etc, to restrain the animal; and avoid contact with the animal owner if required.

The VCI also advised registrants and other prescribers and retailers of veterinary medicine to “continue with normal ordering patterns where appropriate” to maintain medicine stocks.

“If this is undertaken, there should be no need for additional stocks,” the VCI guidelines highlight.

In terms of adapting to current measures, the council advises:

All routine clinics and treatment appointments unlikely to have an impact on welfare should be deferred, including matters such as booster vaccinations, nail clipping, update on progress of existing conditions, treatment course changes, repeat prescription consultations, etc.

“These food production support services and emergency care must also be provided in a manner that avoids all unnecessary contact with clients, maintains a safe physical distance, and ensures that animals are only seen face-to-face when necessary,” it was added.