Safety in endoscopy for patients and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic20 Oct, 2020
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is still wreaking havoc in many parts of the world and poses a great burden to healthcare systems worldwide. Mitigation and suppression strategies have been implemented globally but the disease has proven to be difficult to contain. Initially many elective gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopies were cancelled to reduce the risk of infection and conserve personal protective equipment (PPE), but many endoscopy units are now faced with the dilemma of resuming endoscopy service during the pandemic as indefinitely postponing diagnostic procedures may lead to a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of malignancies. Further concerns are surfacing as COVID-19 is now known to affect the GI tract and may potentially be spread via the fecal-oral route. Until more effective drugs and vaccines are available, it is unlikely that the pandemic will wind down in the near future. Maintaining a balance between protecting healthcare workers (HCWs) and patients from being infected on the one hand and providing timely and effective clinical care on the other will become increasingly important as the pandemic persists. In this narrative review, the risk of COVID-19 infection for HCWs and patients undergoing endoscopy, and recommendations on maintaining safe, high-quality endoscopy practice will be discussed.
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