How ophthalmologists should understand and respond to the current epidemic of novel coronavirus pneumonia

Authors: Zhijie Li

DOI: 10.3760/cma.j.issn.2095-0160.2020.0003
Published 2020-03-10
Cite as Chin J Exp Ophthalmol, 2020,38(03): 267-272.

Abstract

The new coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19)that caused by 2019 new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 has attracted great attention from both the Chinese government and the international community.The International Committee on Viral Classification named the virus “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2″ (SARS-CoV-2), and the WHO named the pneumonia it causesCOVID-19” . At present, the disease is centered in Wuhan City and is spreading rapidly to all parts of China, as well as twenty other countries.About 20% of the people infected during the SARS epidemic in 2003 were employees in hospital environments.COVID-19 has infected an even greater number of heath care workers.Therefore, ophthalmologists need to understand the disease and recognize the importance of taking preventive measures.Although ophthalmologists do not work on the front lines of the outbreak, due to their area of expertise, a variety of situations, such as infection consultations or ophthalmic emergency treatments, can lead to the exposure of ophthalmologists to high-risk environments.This risk will only increase as the number of infected patients continues to increase.When dealing with seemingly normal ophthalmic patients, the vigilance of ophthalmologists and associated staff tends to be significantly reduced.To better protect patients, families, and health care workers, it is strongly recommended that in addition to the standard precautions for the care of all patients, strict contact precautions and droplet precautions need to be taken by ophthalmologists.These measures include (1) wearing an efficient mask (an N95 mask); (2) always performing hand hygiene before and after examining a patient; (3) wearing sterile gloves when entering a patient’s room and touching a patient; (4) wearing a gown when contact is expected with items and environmental surfaces surrounding a patient or when the patient is incontinent or has diarrhea or a surgical or other invasive wound with oozing fluid; (5) cleaning and disinfecting ophthalmic equipment and correctly handling medical waste after examination to prevent transmission to patients who are subsequently examined; (6) wearing goggles and a disposable mask to cover the front and sides of the face before touching a patient, as the virus could spread through the ocular surface; (7) performing the relevant screening for COVID-19 for regular patients who have conjunctivitis and respiratory symptoms at the same time; (8) prohibiting the use of infected patients as potential donors for corneal transplants and temporarily adding donor 2019-CoV screening to the medical standard of the eye bank during the outbreak; (9) for the purposes of scientific research, diagnosis, and other special needs, packing, shipping, and transporting collected specimens according to the relevant dangerous biological goods regulations.

Key words:

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; Coronavirus disease 2019; Severe acute respiratory syndrome; Middle East respiratory syndrome; Ocular surface; Contact precaution; Droplet precaution; Ophthalmology

Contributor Information

Zhijie Li
Department of Ophthalmology, Henan Provincial People’s Hospital, Henan Eye Hospital, Henan Eye Institute, Henan Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Zhengzhou University People’s Eye Hospital, Zhengzhou 450003, China
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Updated: June 24, 2020 — 11:27 am