No Staff COVID-19 Diagnoses After Plan at Chinese Cancer Center

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APRIL 02, 2020 — No staff members or patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 after “strict protective measures” for screening and managing patients were implemented at the National Cancer Center/Cancer Hospital, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Beijing, according to a report published online April 1 in JAMA Oncology.

However, the time period for the analysis, which included nearly 3000 patients, was short — only about 3 weeks (February 12 to March 3). Also, Beijing is more than 1100 kilometers from Wuhan, the center of the Chinese outbreak of COVID-19.

The Beijing cancer hospital implemented a multipronged safety plan in February in order to “avoid COVID-19 related nosocomial cross-infection between patients and medical staff,” explain the authors, led by medical oncologist Zhijie Wang, MD.

Notably, “all of the measures taken in China are actively being implemented and used in major oncology centers in the United States,” Robert Carlson, MDchief executive officer, National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), told Medscape Medical News.  

John Greene, MD, section chief, Infectious Disease and Tropical Medicine, Moffitt Cancer Center, Tampa, Florida, pointed out that the Chinese safety plan, which is full of “good measures,” is being largely used at his center. However, he observed that one tool — doing a temperature check at the hospital front door — is not well supported by most of the literature. “It gives good optics and looks like you are doing the most you possibly can, but scientifically it may not be as effective [as other screening measures],” he said.

The Chinese plan consists of four broad elements.

First, the above-mentioned on-site temperature tests are performed at the entrances of the hospital, outpatient clinic, and wards. Contact and travel histories related to the Wuhan epidemic area are also established and recorded.

Second, an outpatient appointment scheduling system allows both online scheduling and on-site registration. Online consultation channels are open daily, featuring instruction on medication taking and cancer-related symptom management. These “substantially reduced the flow of people in the hospital,” write the authors. On-site patients must wear a mask and have their own disinfectant.

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