HealthMarch 13, 2020

COVID-19: Is your facility prepared to stop the spread?

We watched reports of an outbreak of an emerging infectious disease, known as coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in China in early January. By the end of January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the Covid-19 outbreak met criteria for “a Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (WHO 2020a).

Since then, Covid-19 has spread rapidly causing the WHO to declare Covid-19 a pandemic, with more than 118,000 cases reported in 114 countries (WHO 2020a).

Proof that Covid-19 can be suppressed and controlled

Despite the rapid spread, Dr. Tedros, the Director General of WHO, reported that of the 118,000 cases, more than 90% of cases occurred in four countries (WHO 2020b). Several countries have demonstrated that the virus can be suppressed and controlled with preparation. Which is good news in a pandemic situation. It appears that countries that “detect, test, isolate, trace, and mobilize people in response, those with a handful of cases, can prevent those cases from becoming clusters, and those clusters from becoming community transmission,” explained Dr. Tedros (WHO 2020b).

Putting a Covid-19 control plan into action

Your health care facility can help suppress and control Covid-19 by taking these steps that help limit exposure.

  • Use alternatives to face-to-face triage, when possible.
  • Consider limiting entry points to your facility.
  • Provide visual alerts and supplies to ensure that all patients with respiratory infection symptoms adhere to respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.
  • Install barriers in reception areas to reduce contact between triage staff and potentially infectious patients.
  • Consider setting up a screening area outside of the facility to screen patients before they enter, and equip the area with hand hygiene supplies and personal protective equipment.
  • Ensure that patients with respiratory symptoms receive priority during triage.
  • Ask all patients about the presence of respiratory symptoms, and recent travel to areas experiencing Covid-19 transmission or exposure to anyone with suspected Covid-19.
  • Adhere to Standard and Transmission-based Precautions.
  • Isolate the patient suspected of Covid-19 in an exam room or single-person room with the door closed. Reserve airborne infection isolation rooms for those who require aerosol-generating procedures.
  • Limit visitors to patients with known or suspected Covid-19 by encouraging video call applications on electronic devices. If visitors must visit, instruct them about hand hygiene, avoiding touch surfaces, and using personal protective equipment while in the patient’s room.
  • Limit visitors to vulnerable patient populations and screen them for symptoms before entry to the unit.
  • Postpone elective visits and procedures.
  • Cancel group health care activities.

By putting these strategies into practice, your facility can be proactive against Covid-19, and help contribute to the best outcome, a pandemic that resolves quickly with few casualties.

Since information surrounding the Covid-19 virus continues to evolve, keep informed by checking the CDC’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) webpage.


Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). (2020). ‘Infectious Disease Disasters: Bioterrorism, Emerging Infections, and Pandemic’ in APIC Text Online, Arlington, VA: APIC.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Healthcare Settings.

World Health Organization. (2020). Statement on the second meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

World Health Organization. (2020). WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on Covid-19. 11 March 2020.

About the author

Collette Bishop Hendler, RN, MS, MA, CIC, Editor-in-Chief, Lippincott Solutions, Point-of-Care, is certified by the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. as an Infection Preventionist.

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