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The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted some potential limitations of transmission-based precautions. The distinction between transmission through large droplets vs aerosols, which have been fundamental concepts guiding infection control measures, has been questioned, leading to considerable variation in expert recommendations on transmission-based precautions for COVID-19. Furthermore, the application of elements of contact precautions, such as the use of gloves and gowns, is based on low-quality and inconclusive evidence and may have unintended consequences, such as increased incidence of healthcare-associated infections and spread of multidrug-resistant organisms. These observations indicate a need for high-quality studies to address the knowledge gaps and a need to revisit the theoretical background regarding various modes of transmission and the definitions of terms related to transmission. Further, we should examine the implications these definitions have on the following components of transmission-based precautions: (i) respiratory protection, (ii) use of gloves and gowns for the prevention of respiratory virus infections, (iii) aerosol-generating procedures and (iv) universal masking in healthcare settings as a control measure especially during seasonal epidemics. Such a review would ensure that transmission-based precautions are consistent and rationally based on available evidence, which would facilitate decision-making, guidance development and training, as well as their application in practice.


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