COVID-19 PANDEMIC: RADIOTHERAPY PRECAUTIONS & PREPAREDNESS

Naveen Mummudi , Anil Tibdewal, Sarbani Ghosh-Laskar, Jai Prakash Agarwal

Department of Radiation Oncology, Tata Memorial Centre, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, India

 

The 2019–20 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is caused by infection with the Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China in December 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020; subsequently, the outbreak was recognized as a pandemic on 11 March 2020. In India, the first case of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic was reported on 30 January 2020 and as of 21 March 2020, there are a total of 258 cases and 4 deaths in the country according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW). The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 has been invoked in many states and union territories as a consequence educational institutions and commercial establishments have been shut down. The MOHFW has already provided advisory for hospitals and medical education institutions in the country to tackle unprecedented increase in patients infected with COVID 19.

Even at such a challenging time, as medical professionals, our primary responsibility remains providing optimal care to our patients. Of equal importance, is to ensure the safety and protection of all the health care workers involved. Institutional and departmental policies, organizational procedures may need to be reviewed to ensure this twin objective of optimizing patient care without compromising on safety to the health care provider. We provide a list of precautionary measures that can be implemented at all radiotherapy centers:

Patient care:

All the general public safety measures recommended by national and international bodies like avoidance of crowded places (including social distancing), wearing of surgical mask in public spaces, following hand hygiene are equally applicable to cancer patients.

 

OUTPATIENT DEPARTMENT

 

RT TREATMENT

 

MACHINE AREA

 

INPATIENT CARE

              

 

Staff and Administrative issues:

 

 

 

All measures and precautions should be reviewed and revised regularly by the professionals involved as the pandemic continues to evolve.

 

Constant communication with patients and staff involved regarding policy changes and updates is of paramount importance to avoid panic and apprehension. The key to controlling the spread of the pandemic lies in being aware, alert and taking appropriate, timely action. 

 

The radiation oncology community in India stands in solidarity with the various efforts to fight this deadly viral  infection.