Earlier this month a new coronavirus was identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province of China. The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, belongs to a group of virus known to cause symptoms ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory infections (SARI). Two prior coronaviruses, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) together have affected over 10,000 people and have resulted in over 1,600 deaths. COVID-19 has been spreading between people via respiratory droplets. While the number of cases in the US remains low, clinicians should remain on high alert
If you suspect a patient may be infected with COVID-19, immediately implement appropriate infection prevention and control (IPC) measures (World Health Organization, 2020).
- Institute standard precautions for all patients
- Practice strict hand washing and respiratory hygiene
- Apply masks to suspect patients and place them on isolation if possible
- Instruct patients to cover nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Perform hand hygiene after contact with respiratory secretions
- Use personal protective equipment (PPE) [mask, gown, gloves] to avoid contact with patient blood and other body fluids
- Prevent needle-stick or sharps injury
- Ensure safe waste management, environmental cleaning and sterilization of patient equipment
- Implement contact and droplet precautions for suspected COVID-19 infection
- Patients should be placed in properly ventilated single rooms
- Don PPE: medical mask, goggles or face shield, a clean, non-sterile, long-sleeve fluid resistant gown, and always wear gloves; remove PPE when leaving the room.
- Use single use, disposable equipment or dedicated equipment; if equipment must be shared, clean and disinfect with 70% ethyl alcohol between each patient use
- Clean and disinfect patient-contact surfaces regularly
- Institute airborne precautions for aerosol-generating procedures such as open suction of the respiratory tract, tracheal intubation, tracheotomy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, manual ventilation before intubation and bronchoscopy
- Use particulate respirator (i.e. N95 or equivalent)
- Don PPE: eye protection, gown, gloves
- Perform procedures in adequately ventilated room
The only way to avoid COVID-19 virus is to prevent exposure to it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2020) recommends the following everyday actions to help deter the spread of all respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay at home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
Anyone who may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.