Guidance for Health Care Workers (HCWs) during the COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a potential threat to globalization which is mainly caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This disease was first identified in China on December, 2019. Gan et al., 2020 stated that, “On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and later on March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic”. Anon, 2020 reported that on March 26, 2020 public health authorities proclaimed community transmission.

Wang et al., 2020; Heinzerling et al., 2020; Zhou et al., 2020 stated that Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19 in the workplace because of their long-time exposure to large numbers of infected patients, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), an inadequate training in infection prevention and control and exposure to unrecognized COVID-19 patients have been the most prominent causes.

A study was conducted by Zaina Al Maskari et al., 2020 that is published in International Journal of Infectious Diseases which describes the characteristics of HCWs who tested positive for COVID-19 at Royal Hospital, Muscat, Oman, which is the main hospital providing care for patients with moderate to severe COVID-19. This was a cross-sectional descriptive analysis of HCWs with COVID-19.

The results of this study demonstrates that HCWs are at a high risk of acquiring COVID-19 in the workplace and there were many reasons that might account for the acquisition of COVID-19 among HCWs, such as low compliance with infection control precautions, noncompliance with social distancing and universal masking during eating times, and late diagnosis of HCWs who had mild symptoms.

The infection control measures for COVID-19 that applies to the community, such as social distancing and universal masking must be applied meticulously in the hospital among HCWs in order to prevent hospital – acquired infections.

In summation, the strengthening of infection control measures to prevent exposures from infected patients and colleagues and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is a necessity.

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