The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has established and will be distributing detailed guidelines for the response and transport of suspected COVID-19 cases by 119 according to their types to related institutions.
The Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters classified COVID-19 suspected cases into three types (▴ A-type patient, ▴ B-type patient, and ▴ C-type patient). The new “Guidelines for Each Type of Suspected COVID-19 Case” have been applied since March 16.
○ A-type patient: A patient with a high fever and respiratory symptoms whose symptoms correspond with the case definition of the Central Disease Control Headquarters
Paramedics should wear five pieces (mask, protective goggles, gloves, protective clothing (D-level), and shoe covers) before being dispatched.
○ B-type patient: A patient with symptoms or whose symptoms correspond with the case definition of the Central Disease Control Headquarters
Paramedics should wear four pieces (mask, protective goggles, gloves, plastic gown) before being dispatched.
○ C-type patient (ordinary patient): A patient without symptoms and whose symptoms do not correspond with the case definition of the Central Disease Control Headquarters
Paramedics should wear three pieces (mask, protective goggles, gloves) before being dispatched.
* Case Definition
|Category||Cases & Symptoms|
|Suspected case||A person who has any clinical symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days after coming into contact with a confirmed patient|
|Surveyed symptomatic patients||① A person with clinical symptoms of COVID-19 who is suspected of having COVID-19 according to medical opinion
② A person who visited overseas and shows clinical symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days after entry into the country
③ A person who is epidemiologically related to a domestic collective infection and shows clinical symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days afterwards
* Symptoms: Body temperature above 37.5℃ or respiratory symptoms (cough, dyspnoea, etc.)
The SMG reported that as the result of the four-month application of the new transport guidelines, the number of paramedics had to be self-isolated due to the transportation of suspected cases plummeted, which helped to secure a stable pool of human resources for dispatch.
The total number of paramedics who had to be self-isolated due to the transportation of suspected cases after the application of the guidelines was 434, which is 5.5% of the total (Mar. 16 – Jul. 20). Before the establishment of the guidelines, one out of four paramedics (26.7%) had to be self-isolated, which made it difficult to secure a pool of firefighting human resources.
At the beginning of the spread of COVID-19, when there were no specific transport guidelines, the patients were classified into only two categories: suspected COVID-19 patient and ordinary patient. If the patient was a suspected COVID-19 patient, the paramedics had to wear five pieces (mask, protective goggles, gloves, gown, and shoe covers). A multitude of paramedics were self-isolated as a result, and the protective items were consumed too quickly to be supplied steadily.
※ Before & After the Application of the New Transport Guidelines
|Before||→||After (Since March 16, 2020)|
|• Period: Jan. 24-Mar. 15, 2020 (52 days)
• Number of COVID-19 Dispatch Cases: 2,212
※ Daily Average: 42.5
• Number of Self-isolated Paramedics: 590 (26.7%)
|→||• Period: Mar. 16-Jul. 20, 2020 (127 days)
• Number of COVID-19 Dispatch Cases: 7,886
※ Daily Average: 62.1
• Number of Self-isolated Paramedics: 434 (5.5%)
Source: Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters
Now, paramedics only wear protective clothing (D-level) like plastic gowns when necessary, avoiding unnecessary consumption and guaranteeing a stable supply of protective items.
The Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters has plans to publish the “Response Guidelines for Infectious Disease Disasters” in the form of a booklet in which the aforementioned contents are included, and distribute it to related institutions, such as fire stations and community health centers throughout the country so that it can be used in the field.
The “Response Guidelines for Infectious Disease Disasters” were created to minimize confusion in disaster situations and tackle new infectious diseases more efficiently based on trial and error in the course of responding to COVID-19.
The guidelines include not only the “Transport Guidelines for Each Type of Suspected COVID-19 Case,” but also the procedures for responding according to the stage of the disaster and the roles and duties of fire stations and firefighters.
Based on the guidelines, the Seoul Metropolitan Fire & Disaster Headquarters will be developing a standard response guideline against all infectious diseases by organizing an Infectious Disease Council (working name) composed of external experts.