31 March 2020
By Bryan Smyth
The Veterinary Council of Ireland (VCI), the statutory body responsible for the regulation and management of the practise of veterinary medicine and veterinary nursing in the state, has issued guidance to veterinary registrants regarding COVID-19, following updated Government restrictions to curtail the spread of the virus, which came into effect at midnight on Friday, 27th of March. Services relating to food production and the care of animals are considered essential, and are exempt from the updated list of Government restrictions.
The Council advises that during this period veterinary professionals can continue to work as essential workers; however, practices and habits must be adapted appropriately to adhere to the current circumstances. The Veterinary Council recommends that all veterinary practices confine their services to emergency treatment and care required in the interests of animal welfare, and services required in the support of food production.
This includes providing treatment and emergency care where animal welfare would be compromised by delay, or in activities that are essential to maintaining the future food supply chain. All routine clinics and treatment appointments unlikely to have an impact on welfare should be deferred.
The Council advises registrants that 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.
Joe Moffitt, President of the Veterinary Council of Ireland said “While COVID-19 is the most acute global health challenge in recent history, it has also brought out the best elements of human endeavour, resilience and community spirit in people from all walks of life. I am immensely proud of all colleagues in facing this crisis with determination and collegiality, and community spirit uniquely enjoyed amongst the Veterinary Professions”.
Included in the essential services that can remain open are retail sales of essential items for the health and welfare of animals, including animal feed and medicines, animal food, pet food and animal supplies including bedding.
All Veterinary Council registrants over 70 years of age and those with underlying health conditions are requested to shield or cocoon, as per the direction of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The Council advises that any registrants that are experiencing anxiety or distress contact The Irish Veterinary Benevolent Fund, which provides a 24/7 support line, on 1800 995 955. Vet Support Northern Ireland provide email and colleague manned support and can be contacted by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
The full guidance note from The Veterinary Council is available at https://www.vci.ie/Utility/News/2020/COVID-19-Update-and-Guidance-Note-to-Registrants-2