SARS Influencing Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Epidemic in Singapore

Leesburg, VA, March 6, 2020—An open-access American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) Collections article detailing how a tertiary hospital in Singapore responded to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) offers a thorough summary of ground operational considerations for radiology departments presently reacting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic.

Although imaging is not usually viewed as a frontline clinical service, lead author Lionel Tim-Ee Cheng reveals Singapore General Hospital’s markedly different experience with SARS in 2003: “Portable imaging was extensively used, directly exposing radiology staff to the pathogen. Furthermore, radiology departments are places in which different patients (inpatient, outpatient, febrile, nonfebrile), accompanying persons, visitors, and health care workers from other departments potentially mix.” Therefore, Cheng et al. continue, “any breach in infection prevention and control mechanisms in the radiology department has far-reaching consequences.” 

As per their institution’s ongoing response to the novel COVID-19 pathogen, the authors of this AJR article identify three key areas of review (e.g., People, Places and Equipment, Processes and Policies), outlining multiple considerations for diagnostic radiologists, vascular and interventional radiologists, nuclear medicine and molecular imaging specialists, as well as radiographers and nursing units.  

Ensure Rapid Sharing of Accurate and Useful Information
Ensure Infection Prevention and Control Knowledge and Practices Are Up to Date
Create New Hybrid Working Teams
Manage Emotions During Adversity
Places and Equipment:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Dedicated Scanners for Isolation and High-Risk Cases
Physical Security and Access Control
Decentralized or Alternate Working Areas
Portable Imaging Capability
Processes and Policies:
Review of Policies and Procedures
Isolation or High-Risk Cases
Modified Interventional Radiology Processes
Rapid Provision of Radiologic Results
Daily Routine Instructions
According to Cheng and colleagues: “If there is sustained community transmission from individuals without symptoms, our ability to detect cases and contain the spread will be limited. If COVID-19 becomes widespread globally with mainly mild disease and low mortality, it may become another respiratory tract pathogen that we have to live with while adopting sustainable universal precautions and waiting for a vaccine.”

Founded in 1900, the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) is the first and oldest radiological society in North America, dedicated to the advancement of medicine through the profession of radiology and its allied sciences. An international forum for progress in medical imaging since the discovery of the x-ray, ARRS maintains its mission of improving health through a community committed to advancing knowledge and skills with an annual scientific meeting, monthly publication of the peer-reviewed American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), quarterly issues of InPractice magazine, AJR Live Webinars and Podcasts, topical symposia, print and online educational materials, as well as awarding scholarships via The Roentgen Fund®.