Strategies for Protecting Patients and Health-Care Providers Against COVID-19

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For Patients

Patients undergoing active treatment for cancer and cancer survivors may be at increased risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus because of their compromised immune system and their susceptibility to other illnesses. ASCO has developed information on Cancer.Net on how patients can protect themselves against COVID-19, including:

  • Washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue and then throwing the tissue away or coughing or sneezing into the elbow.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cleaning frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, counters, toilets, keyboards, tables, and phones, with household cleaning spray or wipes.

For Health-Care Providers

It appears that COVID-19 is spread from person to person via respiratory droplets among close contacts. To help minimize the risk of spread of the virus from patient to physician, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed the following recommendations for infection prevention and control. A complete list may be found at

  • Assessing and triaging patients with acute respiratory symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19 to minimize exposure, including placing a facemask on the patient and placing the patient in an examination room with the door closed.
  • Using standard and transmission-based precautions, including practicing hand hygiene before and after all patient contact, contact with potentially infectious material, and before putting on and removing personal protection equipment (including gloves).
  • Putting on a respirator or facemask before entry into the patient’s room.
  • Using eye protection, such as goggles or a disposable face shield that covers the front and sides of the face, upon entry into the patient’s room.
  • Putting on clean, nonsterile gloves when entering the patient’s room and then removing and discarding the gloves when leaving the patient’s room and immediately performing hand hygiene.
  • Putting on a clean isolation gown upon entry into the patient’s room and immediately changing the gown if it becomes soiled and then removing and discarding the gown in a dedicated container for waste or linen before leaving the patient’s room.


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