Categories: Coronavirus

What is COVID-19 and How to Stay Safe during Dialysis in COVID-19 Outbreak

COVID-19 is a type (strain) of coronavirus. A virus is a very small (microscopic) type of germ that can cause an infection. It can only replicate in a host, such as a person or other living things. You might not always feel sick from viruses. However, viruses can make you seriously ill and cause disease.

The disease caused by this virus has different names. The disease is called COVID-19 – Coronavirus Disease 2019 for the year in which it first appeared globally. COVID-19 is also known as “novel coronavirus,” meaning a new type of coronavirus not previously discovered or identified.

Coronaviruses are a group (or family) of viruses that cause different illnesses. These illnesses can range from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

COVID-19 is also called SARS-Cov-2 for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are:



Shortness of Breath

When is someone with COVID-19 contagious?

COVID-19 can be contagious when someone has symptoms. It may also be contagious in people who are infected and not have symptoms.

According to the CDC, “COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person in respiratory droplets from someone who is infected. People who are infected often have symptoms of illness. Some people without symptoms may be able to spread the virus.”

Does kidney disease put me at a higher risk?

People with kidney disease, transplant recipients and, severe chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19.

People on dialysis have weaker immune systems, making it harder to fight infections. However, it is important to know that kidney patients need to continue with their regularly scheduled dialysis treatments and to take necessary precautions as recommended by their healthcare team.

Staying Safe During Dialysis in the COVID-19 Outbreak

Dialysis patients should NOT stop their treatments during the COVID-19 outbreak. To protect dialysis patients from the coronavirus, which causes the disease, COVID-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have given dialysis centres new information to stop the virus from spreading. Dialysis patients are at high risk for serious complications, even death, from the virus.

This is what your dialysis centre should do to protect you:

Check and follow all patients, including home dialysis patients, staff, and visitors who may have had contact with the coronavirus, or with people who have symptoms of COVID-19. For example, the centre should:

  1. Check you for fever or any breathing or respiratory (lung) symptoms
  2. If you live in an area where people have COVID-19
  3. If you have had contact with someone who is being checked for COVID-19, or if you have recently been in another country where COVID-19 has spread.
  4. Centres should take patients’ temperatures at check-in.
  5. Find, triage (give the right type of care based on symptoms), and keep patients who may have the disease away from others who don’t. This means a patient with respiratory symptoms should be dialyzing six feet away in all directions from healthy patients. In some centres, patients with respiratory symptoms may be dialyzed in a separate area.
  6. Communicate often and openly with patients and their representatives, including family and other caregivers, to meet the needs of each patient.
  7. Call your local or state health department if the dialysis centre has a very high number of patients with respiratory illness.
Dialysis centres should identify patients with signs and symptoms of respiratory infections before they enter and do the following:
  1. Give a mask to patients with respiratory symptoms. These patients should wear the mask from check-in and until after they leave the
  2. Tell patients to call ahead to report respiratory symptoms
  3. Put signs at the entrance to let patients know they should tell the staff if they have respiratory symptoms
  4. Give patients and staff information about hand hygiene (how to keep hands clean) and other ways to stay safe. Patients should get this information in the language they know best. Centres should also have tissues, hand sanitizer, and trash bins with foot pedals
  5. Don’t allow visitors with signs/symptoms of infection to enter the dialysis centre.
  6. Give sick time to staff with respiratory symptoms or other signs of illness. It’s not safe for them to be around patients.
  7. Make separate waiting areas for sick patients that are at least six feet from other patients. Healthy patients can wait outside or in their cars until it’s their turn to be seen.
  8. Separate healthy and sick patients by no less than six feet in all directions. Ideally, sick patients will be dialyzed in a separate room.
  9. Group multiple dialyzing patients suspected or confirmed for having COVID-19, along with the staff caring for them, in the same unit or on the same shift.
  10. Use cleaning procedures that kill the coronavirus, along with all routine cleaning and disinfection procedures.

The CDC recommends that frequently touched surfaces be cleaned and disinfected daily. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. Use disinfectants appropriate for the surface.

Options for cleaners are:

  1. Diluting household bleach 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water; or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  2. Alcohol solutions ensure the solution has at least 70%
  3. Transfer any patient too sick to be treated in a dialysis unit. The transport service and receiving facility should be told about the patient’s condition.
  4. Monitor home dialysis patients monthly

Dr. Hamad Jeelani | Consultant Nephrology | Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Guwahati
Narayana Health

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