Care of haematology patients in a COVID‐19 epidemic
Willan J et al. Department of Haematology, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Churchill Hospital
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The threat to health of the COVID‐19 infection (caused by the novel zoonotic SARS‐CoV‐2 coronavirus) is now established.1, 2 As widespread community transmission becomes likely, it is necessary to urgently consider the unique impact this may have on haematology patients and the practical steps that can be taken to reduce their risk during ongoing care. The importance of personal hygiene, the use of protective equipment and the investigation, isolation and treatment of infected patients are well documented elsewhere (https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/eprr/coronavirus/), and are not discussed here. From its emergence in China, the virus has spread to involve 100 000 confirmed cases across 82 countries as of 4th March 2020; there are currently 116 confirmed cases in the UK. Spread from symptomatic as well as asymptomatic patients leads to clusters of local outbreaks, and as community transmission increases, the current policy of contact tracing and containment will move to one designed to slow disease transmission. Without natural immunity in the population, isolation and quarantine will slow, rather than significantly reduce, the ultimate spread of disease. The proportion of the population likely to contract the virus during the outbreak is currently unknown. The UK Government's COVID‐19 action plan is preparing for up to 80% of the population to become infected.