Open access article
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has made this article free to access in order to help healthcare professionals stay informed about an issue of national importance.
To learn more about coronavirus, please visit: https://www.rpharms.com/resources/pharmacy-guides/wuhan-novel-coronavirus
Source: Alamy Stock Photo
As COVID-19 spreads across the UK, pharmacies are increasingly finding themselves on the frontline in the battle to contain the virus.
Community pharmacies have been told to prepare isolation areas or rooms for patients who present at the pharmacy with suspected COVID-19; emergency supplies of protective equipment are to be shipped to pharmacies; and an antimicrobial stewardship clinical audit, introduced as part of the new community pharmacy contract, has been cancelled to allow pharmacies to focus on dealing with the outbreak.
The General Pharmaceutical Council has produced plans to temporarily register around 2,700 retired or no-longer-practising pharmacists if the government declares a state of emergency as a result of the virus. Temporary pharmacies could also be registered if needed.
As of 9am on 10 March 2020, 26,261 people had been tested in the UK, of which 25,888 were confirmed negative and 373 were confirmed as positive. Six patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
The infection rate and number of deaths has been much higher in other countries, and the UK could well follow a similar trajectory.