COVID19 Fact Sheet #4: Prevention
- COVID19 Fact Sheet #4: Prevention
- COVID19 Prevention in the health care setting
- Screening and precautions for symptoms
- Infection control for suspected or confirmed cases
- Discontinuation of precautions
- Environmental disinfection
- COVID19 Preventing exposure in the community
- Potential exposure
- COVID19 Global public health measures
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These fact sheets will provide data about characteristics, diagnosis, management, and prevention of COVID19. Fact sheet #4 will present known facts about prevention of the coronavirus disease (COVID19).
COVID19 Prevention in the health care setting
Screening and precautions for symptoms
Screening patients for fever, cough or shortness of breath prior to entry into a health care facility can helpidentify those who may warrant additional precautions. This can be done over the phone before the patient actually presents to a facility. Any individual with these symptoms should be advised to wear a facemask. If possible, separate waiting areas for patients with respiratory symptoms should be provided. Such patients will also be asked about recent travel or potential COVID19 exposure in the prior 14 days to determine the need for evaluation for COVID-19.
Infection control for suspected or confirmed cases
Infection control to limit transmission is an essential component of care in patients with suspected or documented COVID-19.
Individuals with suspected infection should wear a medical mask prior to seeking medical attention.
In the healthcare setting, WHO recommends standard precautions (i.e., gown, gloves, and mask), with eye or face protection.
Discontinuation of precautions
When to stop infection control precautions for patients with COVID19 will be decided experts in infection prevention and control and public health officials. Symptoms disappearing and negative results on tests, will be grounds for such a decision.
To help reduce the spread of COVID19 virus, environmental infection control procedures will include routine cleaning and disinfection procedures, that are appropriate for COVID19 virus as well.
It is unknown how long SARS-CoV-2 can persist on surfaces. It is known from other coronaviruses, that they may survive on surfaces for up to six to nine days without disinfection. Various disinfectants (including alcohol at concentrations between 62 and 71 percent) on the contrary are known to inactivate coronaviruses within one minute.
COVID19 Preventing exposure in the community
The following general measures are recommended to reduce transmission of infection:
- Diligent hand washing, particularly after touching surfaces in public. (Use of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol is a reasonable alternative if the hands are not visibly dirty.)
- Covering the cough or sneeze.
- Avoiding touching the face (in particular eyes, nose, and mouth).
- Avoiding crowds (particularly in poorly ventilated spaces) if possible and avoiding close contact with ill individuals.
- Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are frequently touched.
In particular, the elderly and individuals with chronic medical conditions should be following these measures.
In the presence of COVID19, residents are encouraged to practice social distancing by staying home as much as possible.
For people without respiratory symptoms, wearing a medical mask is not recommended. Wearing a mask does not decrease the importance of other general measures to prevent infection, and the masks may be lacking, where they are needed.
Individuals who are caring for patients with suspected or documented COVID19 at home, however, should wear a tightly fitting medical mask when in the same room as that patient.
Individuals who develop an acute fever and/or respiratory symptom should stay home from school or work for the duration of the illness.
Individuals who had to travel to high-risk areas or are contacts of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID19, will be monitored for fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Such symptoms would then require social distancing and an appointment for medical evaluation.
COVID19 Global public health measures
On January 30, 2020, the WHO declared the COVID19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern and, in March 2020, began to characterize it as a pandemic in order to emphasize the gravity of the situation. It urged all countries to take action in detecting infection and preventing spread. The WHO has indicated three priorities for countries:
- protecting health workers,
- engaging communities to protect the elderly and those with medical condition, and
- supporting vulnerable countries in containing infection.
The WHO does not recommend international travel restrictions. The WHO advises exit screening for international travellers from areas with ongoing COVID19 to identify individuals with fever, cough, or potential high-risk exposure.
Many countries also perform entry screening (e.g., temperature, assessment for signs and symptoms).
Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al.: Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21523/)
Marco Cascella; Michael Rajnik; Arturo Cuomo; Scott C. Dulebohn; Raffaela Di Napoli: Features, Evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (COVID-19). (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554776/ )