Coronaviruses are non-segmented, enveloped positive-sense
ribonucleic acid viruses from the Coronaviridae family. There
are six types of the coronavirus known to infect humans. Four
of them cause mild respiratory symptoms, while two of them,
the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS)
and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), have
caused epidemics with high mortality rates.
In December 2019, a new type of coronavirus 2019-nCoV/
SARS-CoV-2, causing COVID-19 disease, was extracted and
identified from the lower respiratory tract samples of several
patients in Wuhan, China. These patients presented with
symptoms of severe pneumonia, including fever, fatigue, dry
cough, and respiratory distress.
The coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is a highly transmittable and pathogenic viral infection. It is believed to be
transmitted via respiratory droplets and fomites during close
unprotected contact between an infector and an infectee. The
coronaviruses mainly infect epithelial cells in the lung, but
SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in respiratory, fecal, and
blood specimens of patients infected with the virus.
On February 3, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern, and
on March 11, declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The total
number of confirmed cases, deaths associated with COVID19, and affected countries and territories continues to grow;
detailed statistics can be found at the WHO–Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic site or the John Hopkins
Coronavirus Resource Centre.
Health care providers around the world are facing challenging decisions. They are rapidly adjusting their standard operating procedures (SOPs) to cope with the pandemic cases and
deliver their services. This is done in line with local guidance,
resources available, and the advice of the World Health
Organization (WHO) Minimum Requirements for infection
prevention and control (IPC) programmes.
This publication was prepared based on the systematic review of available literature on the subject and the contribution
of a panel of international experts during the webinar entitled “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pandemic: Challenges for
the Nuclear Medicine Departments,” organized by the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and broadcasted
live on Wednesday 25 March 2020.
The objective of this guide is not to override any
local guidance or national practice guidelines or rules,
nor does it provide comprehensive advice on all aspects
of nuclear medicine practice. It is solely intended as
advice for nuclear medicine facilities during this time
of adjustment and adaptation to the COVID-19 pandemic. We present suggested recommendations for nuclear
medicine departments to follow, based on a typical patient’s “journey” through the department.