COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

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COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP AUGUST 2020.

SCOPE AND PURPOSE

  • This document provides UN duty stations with guidance on the management of COVID-19 cases.
  • This includes home-based care, how to screen and triage suspect cases of COVID-19, and how to set up an isolation ward for patients who cannot be cared for in their homes.
  • The decision to get set up a screening protocol and isolation ward should be taken after consultation and in coordination with senior management, WHO country office, and local health authorities.
  • The document provides further information on environmental cleaning and disinfection and handling of human remains.
  • For any questions on this document, contact dos-dhmosh-public-health@un.org

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

DISEASE SEVERITY / PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS

  • A study of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention of 44,500 confirmed symptomatic infections showed that:
  • 40% of confirmed cases reported mild disease — i.e. treatment is symptomatic and can be managed at home, and does not require inpatient care;
  • 40% of confirmed cases reported moderate disease – i.e. can be managed either at home or as an inpatient;
  • 15% of confirmed cases reported severe disease – i.e. requires oxygen therapy, has dyspnea, hypoxia, or >50 percent lung involvement on imaging within 24 to 48 hours;
  • 5% of confirmed cases reported critical disease – i.e. requires mechanical ventilation, has respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction.
  • This study had an overall 2.3% case fatality rate; no deaths were reported among non-critical cases. It should be noted that the proportion of severe or fatal infections may vary by location and age.

This may be due to distinct demographics of infection. (1)

  • In terms of the impact of age on severity, to date, most of the fatal cases have occurred in patients with advanced age or underlying medical comorbidities. Known risk factors for severe COVID-19 and increased mortality are age >60 years (increasing with age), hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular
    disease, chronic lung disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic kidney diseases, immunosuppression, and cancer.

Smoking is also a risk factor for severe disease (2).

The experience of several countries was that mortality was highest amongst older individuals, e.g. in China, 80 % of deaths occurring in those aged ≥65 years.

  • Symptomatic infection in children appears to be uncommon; when it occurs, it is usually mild, although severe cases and few deaths have been reported.
  • Based on current information and studies, WHO estimates that in a general population, about 15% of COVID-19 cases will be severe (requiring hospitalization and oxygen), and 5% of COVID-19 cases will be critical (requiring ventilation), requiring significant health capacity and critical-care infrastructure.
  • This reflects a higher level of severity compared to influenza and is likely because many mild cases are not diagnosed.

It should be noted that the severity of cases and the case-fatality rate differ by age.

  • For the UN, the case fatality rate in our UN personnel population will vary according to the age profile and underlying medical comorbidities of our workforce.

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

ISOLATION AT HOME

  • All UN personnel should be made aware of the general COVID-19 precaution measures to take.
  • If an individual becomes symptomatic, where inpatient facilities do not exist for all COVID-19 patients, for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19, such individuals should stay at home and be “isolated”, i.e. separate themselves from others in the household.
  • They should wear a medical mask when in the same room (or vehicle) as other people and when presenting to health care settings.

For more information on home-based care,

ISOLATION IN A HEALTH CARE SETTING

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

SCREENING AND TRIAGE STATION

This should be preferably done by phone before the patient presents in-person to your facility.

  • A 24/7 COVID-19 telephone hotline should be set up to refer patients to the appropriate destination for clinical assessment and/or testing as per local protocol.
  • This number should be disseminated to all UN personnel for this purpose.
  • For individuals that physically come to the UN health facility, you should set up a triage station at the entrance of your health facility, i.e. outside of your waiting area, to screen patients.
  • This enables you to immediately segregate patients with COVID-19 symptoms from the non-symptomatic patients and limits potential spreading infection throughout the health facility.
  • Signage should be displayed at this station instructing patients with symptoms to inform reception staff immediately on their arrival.

UN personnel involved in triage or screening at the points of entry should wear a medical mask (or N95 mask if available/preferred) when screening patients at the triage station if they are closer than 1- 2 meters from the patients.

  • A plexiglass window/physical barrier may be used depending on the personnel’s role.
  • Ensure to have alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) or soap and water handwashing stations readily available at this station.
  • Any individual that fits the WHO case definition6 of a suspect case should be immediately advised to wear a medical mask, and then triaged to a separate waiting and assessment area immediately.

No UN personnel should be allowed to enter the UN health facility without having first passed the triage area.

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

WAITING AREA

  • Within your waiting area, set up a dedicated, well-ventilated, and separate waiting area for COVID-19 suspect cases.
  • This separate area should be designated at least 1-2 meters away from your regular waiting area.
  • In your waiting area/s, post information like posters and flyers, reminding patients and visitors to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene.
  • Patients should be instructed to stay in this waiting area and not visit other parts of your facility.

INFECTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL IN HEALTH CARE SETTINGS

  • Infection control to limit transmission is an essential component of care in suspect/confirmed cases.
  • All suspect cases should be advised to wear a surgical mask to contain their respiratory secretions before seeking medical attention.
  • All UN health care workers should be reminded of WHO’s “(5) Moments for Hand Hygiene” per the below figure.

SINGLE ROOM

  • Where possible, place any suspect/confirmed COVID-19 patients in a single room with a closed door and dedicated bathroom.
  • In an escalating situation, however, there may be a lack of single rooms/isolation facilities.
  • Where single/isolation rooms are in short supply, and cohorting is not possible, prioritize patients who have high-risk conditions, as well as those with excessive cough and sputum production for single/isolation room placement.
  • Note that if resources allow, an airborne infection isolation room (i.e., a single-patient negative pressure room) should ideally be made available for patients undergoing aerosol-generating procedures (7).

COHORTING PATIENTS

  • If a single/isolation room is not available, you can cohort lab-confirmed COVID-19 with other lab-confirmed cases together. Suspect cases should be kept as a separate cohort.
  • A 1 – 2 meters distance should be maintained at all times between all patients in an isolation facility.
  • Use privacy curtains between beds to minimize opportunities for close contact.
  • Where possible, a designated self-contained area should be used for the treatment and care of patients with COVID-19.

This area should:

  • Include a reception area that is separate from the rest of the health facility and should, if feasible, have a separate entrance/exit from the rest of the building;
  • Not be used as a hallway by other patients, visitors, or staff, including patients being transferred, staff going for meal breaks, and staff and visitors entering and exiting the building; Be separated from non-segregated areas by closed doors; and
  • Have signage displaying warning of the segregated area to control entry.
  • Where your health facility can no longer manage patients with mild/moderate disease, patients who are not at high risk for severe disease (i.e. under 60 years of age, no co-morbid diseases) can be isolated in community facilities (e.g. building, tent, temporary structures) with access to rapid health advice (i.e. via dedicated hotline, or telemedicine), or even at home.
  • If the patient develops symptoms that may correspond to severe disease or complications, ensure rapid referral to the hospital.

Depending on local testing strategy and capacity, mild and moderate patients may not be tested, and simply advised to self-isolate in either a cohort community facility or at home.

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

OTHER IPC CONSIDERATIONS

  • Assigning a dedicated team of staff to care for patients in isolation/cohort rooms/areas is an additional infection control measure.
  • This should be implemented whenever there are sufficient levels of staff available (so as not to hurt non-affected patients’ care).

Ensure that UN health care workers have a rotational shift to ensure proper rest and recovery time.

  • Limit the movement of patients within the health facility to reduce potential infection throughout the health facility.
  • If the patient needs to be moved ensure they are wearing a medical mask as source control, plan the move, and ensure all staff and visitors who come into direct contact with the patient should wear the appropriate PPE required for the care of a COVID-19 patient.
  • Perform regular environmental cleaning and disinfection.
  • Maintain good ventilation, if possible, open doors and windows. Limit the number of visits per patient.
  • All visitors should wear the required PPE and their visits should be recorded.

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE) IN HEALTH CARE SETTINGS

  • With regards to PPE for healthcare workers caring for a suspect/confirmed COVID-19 case, the WHO recommends8 standard, contact, and droplet precautions (i.e. gown, gloves, and mask) with an eye (e.g. goggles) or face protection.
  • Note that boots and coverall suits are not required.
  • WHO recommends that the addition of airborne precautions (i.e. using a particular respirator such as an N-95 – do a seal check with each use!) is warranted during aerosol-generating procedures.
  • Due to the desire for a more conservative approach, the UN Medical Directors is recommending that airborne precautions (i.e. use of an N-95 mask) should be implemented at all times when caring for a suspect/confirmed case.
  • All healthcare staff who wears an N-95 mask should be fit-tested to ensure an adequate seal/fit according to the manufacturer’s guidance.
  • Ensure to conduct a seal check (according to the manufacturers’ guidance) every time an N-95 is donned to ensure an adequate seal has been achieved.

PPE should be changed between use and for each different patient.

  • If utilizing single-use PPE, dispose in a waste bin with a lid and wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Anything single-use should not be reused or sterilized.
  • For a WHO summary9 of the minimum needed PPE by health care activities conducted, see figure below.
  • A detailed table with WHO recommendations on the type of PPE to be used for which activity is also available. (10)
  • UN offices should review WHO’s PPE recommendations (11)  and determine the amount of PPE required by your office/duty station.

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING AND DISINFECTION

  • It is unknown how long SARS-CoV-2 can persist on surfaces; other coronaviruses have been tested and may survive on inanimate surfaces for up to six to nine days without disinfection.
  • To help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus, environmental infection control procedures should also be implemented. According to the WHO, routine cleaning and disinfection procedures are appropriate for the COVID-19 virus (12).
  • Linens and bedding should also be cleaned/washed regularly.
  • In a health care setting, patient isolations rooms, cohort areas, and clinical rooms must be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
  • Clinical rooms should also be cleaned and disinfected after clinical sessions for patients with suspected/known pandemic COVID-19.

An increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection is important for “frequently touched” surfaces should be cleaned at least twice daily and when known to be contaminated with secretions, excretions, or body fluids.

Domestic/cleaning staff performing environmental cleaning and disinfection should be allocated to a specific area(s) and not be moved between COVID-19 and non-COVID19 care areas; and be trained in which personal protective equipment (PPE) to use and the correct methods of wearing, removing and disposing of PPE.

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

TRANSPORT BY AMBULANCE

  • A dedicated ambulance should be made available for the transport of COVID-19 cases. At least two stand-by drivers should be made available.
  • Within the ambulances, patient segregation can be achieved by:
  • Designating an ambulance/s for transfer of patients with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 for the duration of each shift;
  • Transporting coughing and sneezing patients on their own whenever possible. However, if pressure upon the transport service occurs, two patients with symptoms of COVID-19 may be transferred together and should wear a surgical mask each.

Ambulance staff should wear a medical mask if they will be within 1-2 meters of the patient.

  • All ambulance staff should be trained on how to put on and take off additional PPE according to the specific situation/interaction with the patient.
  • This may include a combination of PPE such as a medical mask, particulate respiratory, gown, eye protection (goggles/face shield), and gloves depending on if they have direct contact with the patient or not.
  • They should also be knowledgeable about when and how to perform hand hygiene.
  • More information on Emergency Medical Service (EMS) preparedness and transport of patients is available at https://iris.paho.org/handle/10665.2/52137

COVID-19: GUIDE ON HOME-BASED CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD SET UP 

MANAGEMENT OF THE HUMAN REMAINS

  • Handling of deceased bodies infected by COVID-19 is different from that of pathogens causing viral hemorrhagic fever e.g. Ebola virus disease.
  • Until more is known about COVID-19 the WHO recommends those who are managing human remains to use standard and contact and droplet precautions.
  • Where the deceased was known or suspected to have been infected with COVID-19, the body does not need to be packed in a body bad unless there is excessive leakage of bodily fluids.
  • If body bags are used see https://www.who.int/publications-detail/severe-acute-respiratoryinfections-treatment-centre for body bag procurement specifications.

There is no need to disinfect the body before transfer to the mortuary area and no special transport equipment or a vehicle is required.

  • To avoid aerosol production is it not recommended to spray the body.
  • Embalming is not recommended to avoid excessive manipulation of the body.
  • Details on autopsy (if performed) and engineering and environmental controls during autopsy are available in the WHO document referenced below.
  • Cleaning and disinfection procedures should be followed the same as for a room that had a live COVID-19 patient.

For more information, see

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/112656/9789241507134_eng.pdf?sequence=1
https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/infection-prevention-and-control-during-health-care-whennovel-coronavirus-(ncov)-infection-is-suspected-20200125
https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/infection-prevention-and-control-for-the-safe-management-ofa-dead-body-in-the-context-of-covid-19-interim-guidance for more information.

Information on ICD mortality codes for COVID-19 deaths is available here:

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-mortality-reporting-2020-1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  • This guidance was drafted by Dr. Esther Tan and Dr. Devika Dixit of the Public Health unit, DHMOSH, on behalf of the UN Medical Directors.
  • We thank Dr. Folaranmi Ogunbowale and Michael Almendral for their editorial review and all UN Medical Directors for their inputs.

For any questions on this document, please contact dos-dhmosh-public-health@un.org

  • (1) As an example, in Italy, 12 percent of all detected COVID-19 cases and 16 percent of all hospitalized patients were admitted to the intensive care unit; the estimated case fatality rate was 5.8 percent in mid-March. In contrast, the estimated case fatality rate in mid-March in South Korea was 0.9 percent. This may be related to distinct demographics of infection; in Italy, the median age of patients with infection was 64 years, whereas in Korea the median age was in the 40s.

(2) WHO Scientific Brief: Smoking and COVID-19. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/smoking-and-covid-19 Accessed 31 May 2020

SCREENING AND TRIAGE STATION

A 24/7 COVID-19 telephone hotline should be set up to refer patients to the appropriate destination for clinical assessment and/or testing as per local protocol. This number should be disseminated to all UN personnel for this purpose.

  • For individuals that physically come to the UN health facility, you should set up a triage station at the entrance of your health facility, i.e. outside of your waiting area, to screen patients.
  • This enables you to immediately segregate patients with COVID-19 symptoms from the non-symptomatic patients and limits potential spreading infection throughout the health facility.
  • Signage should be displayed at this station instructing patients with symptoms to inform reception staff immediately on their arrival.
  • UN personnel involved in triage or screening at the points of entry should wear a medical mask (or N95 mask if available/preferred) when screening patients at the triage station if they are closer than 1- 2 meters from the patients.

A plexiglass window/physical barrier may be used depending on the personnel’s role. Ensure to have alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) or soap and water handwashing stations readily available at this station.

WAITING AREA

  • Within your waiting area, set up a dedicated, well-ventilated, and separate waiting area for COVID-19 suspect cases.
  • This separate area should be designated at least 1-2 meters away from your regular waiting area. In your waiting area/s, post information like posters and flyers, reminding patients and visitors to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene.
  • Patients should be instructed to stay in this waiting area and not visit other parts of your facility.
  • (6)  https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/who-2019-nCoV-surveillanceguidance-2020.

(7) Aerosol-generating procedures include tracheal intubation, non-invasive ventilation, tracheotomy, CPR, manual ventilation before intubation, upper endoscopy, and bronchoscopy. Nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal specimen collection is not considered an aerosol-generating procedure.

(8) https://www.who.int/publications-detail/infection-prevention-and-control-during-health-care-when-novel-coronavirus-(ncov)-infection-is-suspected-20200125

(9) https://iris.wpro.who.int/bitstream/handle/10665.1/14482/COVID-19-022020.pdf

(10 https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/331215/WHO-2019-nCov-IPCPPE_use-2020.1-eng.pdf

(11) https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/rational-use-of-personal-protective-equipment-for-coronavirus-disease-(covid-19)-and-considerations-during-severe-shortages
(12) https://www.who.int/publications-detail/severe-acute-respiratory-infections-treatment-centre

COVID-19 PREVENTION MEASURES GENERAL PREVENTION TIPS

  • The following general prevention measures are recommended to reduce the transmission of infection.

They should be shared frequently with UN personnel:

  • Wash your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub (with at least 60% alcohol), or with soap and water.
  • Maintain at least 1 – 2 meters (3 – 6 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid crowds (especially in poorly ventilated spaces) if possible.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands after that.

Stay home if you feel unwell.

  • If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
  • Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • In terms of the wearing of cloth masks, WHO recommends that people always consult local authorities on recommended practices in their area.
  • If there is widespread community transmission, and especially in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained, governments should encourage the general public to wear a fabric mask.
  • WHO also provides details on the composition of a fabric mask and how to safely wear one at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

(DHMOSH – PUBLIC HEALTH UNIT, COVID-19 HOME CARE, SCREENING & ISOLATION WARD GUIDELINES AUGUST 2020)

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