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Mitigation of in-hospital risk of coronavirus disease 2019: Experience from a haematology–oncology and stem cell transplant setting

1 Clinical Haematology and Stem Cell Transplantation, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana 141001, Punjab, India
2 Department of Medical Oncology, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana 141001, Punjab, India

Correspondence Address:
Davinder Paul,
Department of Medical Oncology, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana 141001, Punjab
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-258X.315901

Background. Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) was first described in December 2019 and has evolved into an ongoing global pandemic. Cancer patients on chemotherapy are immunocompromised and are at the highest risk of Covid-19-related complications. We describe our experience with the management of haematology–oncology and stem cell transplant (SCT) patients receiving curative chemotherapy in a hospital with a high influx of Covid-19 patients. Methods. We did a prospective observational study at a 99-bedded cancer centre of a tertiary care teaching hospital from April 2020 to September 2020. Preventive measures taken were categorized as follows: (i) staff: screening, mandatory use of personal protective equipment (PPE), risk stratification of potential exposure and testing and isolation as needed; (ii) patients: mandatory viral polymerase chain reaction testing, segregation of positive and untested patients and testing of family members; and (iii) environment: mandatory regular cleaning, visitor restriction, telemedicine services and reassignment of priority to clinic visits. Treatment of the underlying conditions was continued with added precautions. Results. A total of 54 patients were included in the analysis, including 48 with haematological malignancies and 6 for stem cell therapy. Preventive measures were universally applied, and chemotherapy with a curative intent was initiated as per protocol. Three patients were detected to have Covid-19 infection before admission and one after the institution of chemotherapy. Nine patients died after the first cycle of chemotherapy, 2 due to severe Covid-19-related illness and 7 due to complications of chemotherapy or disease progression. Conclusions. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, treatment for haematological malignancies must continue while balancing the risk of Covid-19 infections. Our report emphasizes the effectiveness of measures such as hand hygiene, social isolation, patient segregation, use of masks and PPE and universal pre-treatment testing for Covid-19 in reducing the risk of infection in a high-risk clinical setting.

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