The CDC is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (named “2019-nCoV”) that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and which continues to spread worldwide. This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation that has spread to the United States and the virus can spread from person-to-person. While the exposure in the U.S. is still limited at this time the CDC is monitoring the situation closely.
Outbreaks of novel virus infections are always of public health concern and the risk from these outbreaks depends wholly on the characteristics of the virus:
- how well it spreads between people
- the severity of resulting illness
- medical or other measures available to control the impact of the virus (e.g. vaccine or treatment medications)
The fact that the Coronavirus has caused severe illness and has continued to sustain person-to-person spread in China is concerning, but it’s unclear how the situation in the United States will unfold.
CDC Recommendations for an Effective Infection Control Strategy
The CDC has made a number of recommendations for healthcare facilities and professionals that are treating infected or patients under investigation for the virus. Infection control procedures include
- administrative rules and engineering controls
- environmental hygiene
- correct work practices
- appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
These procedures are all necessary to prevent infections from spreading during healthcare delivery. The CDC states that “prompt detection and effective triage and isolation of potentially infectious patients are essential to prevent unnecessary exposures among patients, healthcare personnel, and visitors at the facility.” They also emphasize that all healthcare facilities “must ensure that their personnel are correctly trained and capable of implementing infection control procedures; individual healthcare personnel should ensure they understand and can adhere to infection control requirements.” (CDC.gov)
Why Patient Isolation is Critical in an Infection Control Plan
A critical component of the overall infection control strategy is the isolation of the patient(s) to prevent further spread to other patients or staff (Guideline for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings). Often a patient can arrive at a healthcare facility with little or no warning. Not having a well-designed infection control plan ahead of time can create unnecessary risk. The CDC recommends placing a patient with known or suspected 2019-nCoV in an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR) that has been constructed and maintained in accordance with current guidelines. The CDC defines AIIRs as the following:
“AIIRs are single-patient rooms at negative pressure relative to the surrounding areas, and with a minimum of 6 air changes per hour (12 air changes per hour are recommended for new construction or renovation). Air from these rooms should be exhausted directly to the outside or be filtered through a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter before recirculation. Room doors should be kept closed except when entering or leaving the room, and entry and exit should be minimized. Facilities should monitor and document the proper negative-pressure function of these rooms. ” (CDC.gov)
STARC Systems has two negative air capable solutions for rapidly deployed containment in the event of a need for quick isolation of a patient. They install in minutes and both exceed ICRA Class IV requirements. Many of the leading healthcare facilities and airports in the U.S. are using our systems to prevent the spread of airborne infections.
The full set of CDC infection control recommendations can be found on their site.
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