As of 14 February 2020, 1,716 healthcare workers in China were infected with the COVID-19 virus and six of them died. One of them was Dr Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, who contracted the disease from an asymptomatic glaucoma patient. In response to the crisis, Hong Kong ophthalmology departments have adopted a three-pronged strategy to prevent COVID-19 transmission between clinicians and patients, which was outlined in a recent report (TH Lai et al, Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 2020, doi.org/10.1007/s00417-020-04641-8).
First are the administrative control measures. All patients received text messages with an enquiry phone number to reschedule appointments or arrange prescription refills. The departments also set up a triage system to identify patients with fever, respiratory symptoms, acute conjunctivitis or recent travel to outbreak areas and encouraged them to postpone their appointments for at least 14 days.
Second are the environmental control measures, such as avoiding micro-aerosol generating procedures such as non-contact tonometry, and operations under general anaesthesia, because of endotracheal intubation. They also avoid nasal endoscopy, as it can provoke sneezing, and have installed protective shields on slit lamps, and frequently disinfection all equipment.
Third are the protection measures adopted by clinical staff. All healthcare personnel have received healthcare training regarding masking, hand hygiene and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE). All clinicians wear masks and gloves when performing examinations, and wear eye protection when examining high-risk patients. All staff were advised to measure their own body temperatures before work and promptly report any COVID-19 symptoms.
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