Protecting healthcare workers during the COVID-19 outbreak

Protecting healthcare workers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak: lessons from Taiwan’s severe acute respiratory syndrome response

Authors: Jonathan Schwartz, Chwan-Chuen King, Muh-Yong Yen


During major epidemic outbreaks, demand for healthcare workers (HCWs) grows even as the extreme pressures they face cause declining availability. We draw on Taiwan’s severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) experience to argue that a modified form of traffic control bundling (TCB) protects HCW safety and by extension strengthens overall coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic control.

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To conclude, COVID-19 represents a fast-moving threat that has sparked unprecedented actions by China. However, overworked and underresourced HCWs facing the real possibility of infection, and reliant on potentially misleading information about a rapidly developing epidemic, may refuse or be unable to work. The result can be critical HCW shortages. A proven model of coronavirus containment and HCW protection will do much to ease concerns both for HCWs and the patients they serve. Furthermore, it can contribute to breaking the cycle of community–hospital–community infection. We therefore urge public health authorities to implement modified TCB so that protection for HCWs and patients is improved and HCW shortages can be mitigated.

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