Latest clinical news updates
WHO officials rethink epidemic messaging amid pandemic debate
The World Health Organization is considering changing the way it classifies and describes international epidemics, amid a protracted public debate over whether to call the outbreak of the new coronavirus a pandemic, according to Reuters.
Officials at the Geneva-based WHO – who this week described it as a pandemic for the first time - are reviewing how the health agency communicates its risk assessment of disease outbreaks in the future, said two people familiar with the discussions. They said that included use of the term pandemic as well as PHEIC, which stands for public health emergency of international concern.
Among ideas that have been discussed is whether to use a more graded approach to capture different levels of severity, rather than binary terminology, the two people said. That would enable the WHO to dial up the severity of its messaging to prompt global cooperation on issues such as funding and drug development across the public health and scientific community, but without causing unnecessary public alarm.
UK government moves to delay phase of plan
The government announced yesterday that they are moving out of the contain phase and into delay, in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The UK Chief Medical Officer raised the risk to the UK from moderate to high. He said that the most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves remains washing their hands more often.
Anyone who shows certain symptoms are to self-isolate for seven days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This is so people avoid all but essential contact with others for seven days from the point of displaying mild symptoms, to slow the spread of infection.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the virus "is the worst public health crisis for a generation" and warned the new measures could "cause severe disruption" for many months.
Around 5,000 retired GPs be could invited back to work
As many as 5,000 GPs who have recently retired or stopped practising could be invited back to work under emergency measures in the coronavirus outbreak, GP magazine reports.
Emergency registration and indemnity for recently retired health professionals is being set up by the Government but only for doctors who have retired in the past two or three years.
Foundation Year 1 doctors and final-year medical students could also have their rights to practise extended.
The General Medical Council said that 15,500 doctors have relinquished their licence to practise in the last three years - a mix of doctors across primary and secondary care.
Fears that there are not enough intensive care nurses
Nursing experts have warned that there might not be enough critical care nurses to cope with a severe coronavirus outbreak.
The caution comes as intensive care units (ICUs) get poised for a major increase in demand according to the story in Nursing Times. These units are already expected to have a high nurse count but nurses in lock down Italy have found the need to increase staffing ratios further in order to cope with the extra workload associated with coronavirus.
Nicki Credland, chair of the British Association of Critical Care Nurses, said: “The problem we have is that we simply do not have enough fully qualified ICU nurses available to cope with the potential increase in demand for ICU beds.”
The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it
A review in the Lancet suggests that the psychological impact of quarantine is wide-ranging, substantial, and can be long lasting. It said that depriving people of their liberty for the wider public good is often contentious and needs to be handled carefully.
If quarantine is essential, the results of the review suggested that officials should take every measure to ensure that this experience is as tolerable as possible for people. This can be achieved by: telling people what is happening and why, explaining how long it will continue, providing meaningful activities for them to do while in quarantine, providing clear communication, ensuring basic supplies (such as food, water, and medical supplies) are available, and reinforcing the sense of altruism that people should, rightly, be feeling.
It added that health officials charged with implementing quarantine, who by definition are in employment and usually with reasonable job security, should also remember that not everyone is in the same situation.
First known person-to-person transmission in the USA
The Lancet has published a study on the first case of COVID-19 in Illinois, USA.
It found that patient 1—a woman in her 60s—returned from China in mid-January, 2020. One week later, she was hospitalised with pneumonia and tested positive for COVID-19. Her husband (Patient 2) did not travel but had frequent close contact with his wife. He was admitted 8 days later and tested positive for COVID-19.
Overall, 372 contacts of both cases were identified; 347 underwent active symptom monitoring, including 152 community contacts and 195 health-care personnel. Of monitored contacts, 43 became persons under investigation, in addition to Patient 2. These 43 persons under investigation and all 32 asymptomatic health-care personnel tested negative for COVID-19.
It concluded that person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 occurred between two people with prolonged, unprotected exposure while Patient 1 was symptomatic. Despite active symptom monitoring and testing of symptomatic and some asymptomatic contacts, no further transmission was detected.
Other news round up
- Madrid is the latest city to go into lockdown and UK advises 'against all but essential travel' to parts of Spain.
- South Korea reported more recoveries from the coronavirus than new infections for the first time since its outbreak emerged in January.
- Just eight new cases are reported in China.
- Romania’s entire government goes into quarantine.
- All elite soccer matches in England, including the Premier League, Football League and Women’s Super League, were suspended until April 4.
- Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in isolation after his wife Sophie tested positive for the virus.
- Ethiopia confirm their first new coronavirus cases.