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1.
African Journal of Thoracic and Critical Care Medicine ; 28(4):181-192, 2022.
Article in English | Scopus | ID: covidwho-2203074

ABSTRACT

Spirometry is required as part of the comprehensive evaluation of both adult and paediatric individuals with suspected or confirmed respiratory diseases and occupational assessments. It is used in the categorisation of impairment, grading of severity, assessment of potential progression and response to interventions. Guidelines for spirometry in South Africa are required to improve the quality, standardisation and usefulness in local respiratory practice. The broad principles of spirometry have remained largely unchanged from previous versions of the South African Spirometry Guidelines;however, minor adjustments have been incorporated from more comprehensive international guidelines, including adoption of the Global Lung Function Initiative 2012 (GLI 2012) spirometry reference equations for the South African population. All equipment should have proof of validation regarding resolution and consistency of the system. Daily calibration must be performed, and equipment quality control processes adhered to. It is important to have standard operating procedures to ensure consistency and quality and, additionally, strict infection control as highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adequate spirometry relies on a competent, trained operator, accurate equipment, standardised operating procedures, quality control and patient co-operation. All manoeuvres must be performed strictly according to guidelines, and strict quality assurance methods should be in place, including acceptability criteria (for any given effort) and repeatability (between efforts). Results must be categorised and graded according to current guidelines, taking into consideration the indication for the test. © 2022, South African Medical Association. All rights reserved.

2.
Afr J Thorac Crit Care Med ; 28(3)2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2056228

ABSTRACT

The recent pandemic has seen unprecedented demand for respiratory support of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, stretching services and clinicians. Yet despite the global numbers of patients treated, guidance is not clear on the correct choice of modality or the timing of escalation of therapy for an individual patient. This narrative review assesses the available literature on the best use of different modalities of respiratory support for an individual patient, and discusses benefits and risks of each, coupled with practical advice to improve outcomes. On current data, in an ideal context, it appears that as disease severity worsens, conventional oxygen therapy is not sufficient alone. In more severe disease, i.e. PaO2/FiO2 ratios below approximately 200, helmet-CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) (although not widely available) may be superior to high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) therapy or facemask non-invasive ventilation (NIV)/CPAP, and that facemask NIV/CPAP may be superior to HFNC, but with noted important complications, including risk of pneumothoraces. In an ideal context, invasive mechanical ventilation should not be delayed where indicated and available. Vitally, the choice of respiratory support should not be prescriptive but contextualised to each setting, as supply and demand of resources vary markedly between institutions. Over time, institutions should develop clear policies to guide clinicians before demand exceeds supply, and should frequently review best practice as evidence matures.

3.
Afr J Thorac Crit Care Med ; 27(4)2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1776562

ABSTRACT

Background: The second wave of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), dominated by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Beta variant, has been reported to be associated with increased severity in South Africa (SA). Objectives: To describe and compare clinical characteristics, management and outcomes of COVID-19 patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) in SA during the first and second waves. Methods: In a prospective, single-centre, descriptive study, we compared all patients with severe COVID-19 admitted to ICU during the first and second waves. The primary outcomes assessed were ICU mortality and ICU length of stay (LOS). Results: In 490 patients with comparable ages and comorbidities, no difference in mortality was demonstrated during the second compared with the first wave (65.9% v. 62.5%, p=0.57). ICU LOS was longer in the second wave (10 v. 6 days, p<0.001). More female admissions (67.1% v. 44.6%, p<0.001) and a greater proportion of patients were managed with invasive mechanical ventilation than with non-invasive respiratory support (39.0% v. 14%, p<0.001) in the second wave. Conclusion: While clinical characteristics were comparable between the two waves, a higher proportion of patients was invasively ventilated and ICU stay was longer in the second. ICU mortality was unchanged.

4.
Afr J Thorac Crit Care Med ; 27(4)2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1502738

ABSTRACT

SUMMARY: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted mainly by aerosol in particles <10 µm that can remain suspended for hours before being inhaled. Because particulate filtering facepiece respirators ('respirators'; e.g. N95 masks) are more effective than surgical masks against bio-aerosols, many international organisations now recommend that health workers (HWs) wear a respirator when caring for individuals who may have COVID-19. In South Africa (SA), however, surgical masks are still recommended for the routine care of individuals with possible or confirmed COVID-19, with respirators reserved for so-called aerosol-generating procedures. In contrast, SA guidelines do recommend respirators for routine care of individuals with possible or confirmed tuberculosis (TB), which is also transmitted via aerosol. In health facilities in SA, distinguishing between TB and COVID-19 is challenging without examination and investigation, both of which may expose HWs to potentially infectious individuals. Symptom-based triage has limited utility in defining risk. Indeed, significant proportions of individuals with COVID-19 and/or pulmonary TB may not have symptoms and/or test negative. The prevalence of undiagnosed respiratory disease is therefore likely significant in many general clinical areas (e.g. waiting areas). Moreover, a proportion of HWs are HIV-positive and are at increased risk of severe COVID-19 and death. RECOMMENDATIONS: Sustained improvements in infection prevention and control (IPC) require reorganisation of systems to prioritise HW and patient safety. While this will take time, it is unacceptable to leave HWs exposed until such changes are made. We propose that the SA health system adopts a target of 'zero harm', aiming to eliminate transmission of respiratory pathogens to all individuals in every healthcare setting. Accordingly, we recommend: the use of respirators by all staff (clinical and non-clinical) during activities that involve contact or sharing air in indoor spaces with individuals who: (i) have not yet been clinically evaluated; or (ii) are thought or known to have TB and/or COVID-19 or other potentially harmful respiratory infections;the use of respirators that meet national and international manufacturing standards;evaluation of all respirators, at the least, by qualitative fit testing; andthe use of respirators as part of a 'package of care' in line with international IPC recommendations. We recognise that this will be challenging, not least due to global and national shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). SA national policy around respiratory protective equipment enables a robust framework for manufacture and quality control and has been supported by local manufacturers and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition. Respirator manufacturers should explore adaptations to improve comfort and reduce barriers to communication. Structural changes are needed urgently to improve the safety of health facilities: persistent advocacy and research around potential systems change remain essential.

6.
Afr J Thorac Crit Care Med ; 26(3)2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1395251

ABSTRACT

Asthmatics do not appear to have increased susceptibility to COVID-19.Uncontrolled severe asthma may be associated with worsened COVID-19 outcomes, especially in asthmatics managed with oral corticosteroids. Risk mitigation measures such as hand hygiene, social distancing and wearing of face masks must be observed at all times. Asthma should be managed as outlined in local and international guidelines.Ensure an adequate supply of medication, and inhaled corticosteroids should not be withdrawnChronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is associated with severe COVID-19 disease and poor outcomes. Maintenance of background medication is important to avoid exacerbations of COPD.Vaccination against influenza is strongly advised for all patients with asthma and COPDVaccination against pneumococcal infection is advisable for patients with COPD. Patients with obstructive airway disease on oral corticosteroids and/or with impaired lung function should take stringent safety precautions. This statement will be updated when more data become available Asthma and COPD occur commonly in South Africa. SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus, which can result in COVID-19-associated severe respiratory infection with respiratory failure and the need for mechanical ventilation. The South African Thoracic Society has prepared a guidance statement to assist clinicians and patients with asthma and COPD during the current epidemic.

8.
South African Medical Journal ; 111(6):550-553, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1353171

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: The hyperinflammation seen as part of a dysregulated immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in its most severe form leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multiorgan failure and death. Corticosteroid therapy targets this hyperinflammation, otherwise known as a cytokine storm. It is the only therapeutic agent to date with a mortality benefit, with clear guidelines from national and international health authorities guiding its use.

9.
Samj South African Medical Journal ; 111(6):575-581, 2021.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1273656

ABSTRACT

Background. Empirical broad-spectrum antibiotics are frequently prescribed to patients with severe COVID-19, motivated by concern about bacterial coinfection. There is no evidence of benefit from such a strategy, while the dangers of inappropriate antibiotics are well described. Objectives. To investigate the frequency, profile and related outcomes of infections by bacterial pathogens in patients admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with severe COVID-19 pneumonia. Methods. This was a prospective, descriptive study in a dedicated COVID-19 ICU in Cape Town, South Africa, involving all adult patients admitted to the ICU with confirmed COVID-19 pneumonia between 26 March and 31 August 2020. We collected data on patient comorbidities, laboratory results, antibiotic treatment, duration of admission and in-hospital outcome. Results. We included 363 patients, who collectively had 1 199 blood cultures, 308 tracheal aspirates and 317 urine cultures performed. We found positive cultures for pathogens in 20 patients (5.5%) within the first 48 hours of ICU admission, while 73 additional patients (20.1%) had positive cultures later during their stay. The most frequently isolated pathogens at all sites were Acinetobacter baumannii (n=54), Klebsiella species (n=13) and coagulase-negative staphylococci (n=9). Length of ICU stay (p<0.001) and intubation (p<0.001) were associated with positive cultures on multivariate analysis. Disease severity (p=0.5), early antibiotic use (p=0.5), diabetes mellitus (p=0.1) and HIV (p=0.9) were not associated with positive cultures. Positive cultures, particularly for tracheal aspirates (p<0.05), were associated with longer ICU length of stay and mortality. Early empirical antibiotic use was not associated with mortality (odds ratio 2.5;95% confidence interval 0.95 -6.81). Conclusions. Bacterial coinfection was uncommon in patients at the time of admission to the ICU with severe COVID-19. Avoiding early empirical antibiotic therapy is therefore reasonable. Strategies to avoid coinfection and outbreaks in hospital, such as infection prevention and control, as well as the strict use of personal protective equipment, are important to improve outcomes.

10.
South African Medical Journal ; 111(6):550-553, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1264646

ABSTRACT

Background. The hyperinflammation seen as part of a dysregulated immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in its most severe form leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), multiorgan failure and death. Corticosteroid therapy targets this hyperinflammation, otherwise known as a cytokine storm. It is the only therapeutic agent to date with a mortality benefit, with clear guidelines from national and international health authorities guiding its use. Objectives. To compare severity-of-illness indices, survival, length of intensive care unit (ICU) stay and potential ICU complications in patients treated with different corticosteroid regimens (high-dose hydrocortisone, high-dose methylprednisolone and lower-dose dexamethasone). Methods. In this single-centre descriptive retrospective observational study of a cohort of patients with severe COVID-19 admitted to a COVID-dedicated ICU, we compared patients treated with the three different corticosteroid regimens. Results. In 242 cases we could not demonstrate any statistically or clinically significant difference in the outcome of patients with critical COVID-19 treated with high-dose intravenous hydrocortisone (n=88) or methylprednisolone (n=46) compared with a relatively lower dose of dexamethasone (n=108). The survival rates were 38.6%, 39.1% and 33.3%, respectively (p=0.68). Patients treated with methylprednisolone tended to have a shorter length of ICU stay (median (interquartile range) 6 (4 - 10), 4 (2 - 8) and 5 (2 - 8) days;p=0.015) and fewer episodes of nosocomial sepsis (47.7%, 32.6% and 48.1%;p=0.01). Conclusions. Hydrocortisone or methylprednisolone can be given as an alternative to dexamethasone in the management of critical COVID-19, and this is a feasible alternative, especially in resource-constrained settings.

11.
S Afr Med J ; 110(12): 1195-1200, 2020 10 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-994151

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: An outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China in late 2019 has resulted in a global pandemic. The virus (SARS-CoV-2) causes a severe acute respiratory syndrome and had been responsible for >14 000 deaths in South Africa (SA) at the time of writing, 30 August 2020. Autopsies in our setting have not been prioritised owing to the infective risks for staff, resulting in a lack of information on the histopathology of the disease in the SA setting. Postmortem biopsies are relatively quick and easy to perform and reduce the infective risk posed by full autopsies. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether postmortem biopsies of lung tissue could be used to determine cause of death in lieu of full autopsies in patients dying from COVID-19. METHODS: We performed postmortem biopsies of lung tissue on 4 patients with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction who died in the Tygerberg Hospital (Cape Town, SA) intensive care unit (ICU) in June - July 2020, in order to determine their cause of death. The biopsies were performed in the ICU with the necessary personal protective equipment within 2 hours after death. Clinical information was obtained from the hospital records and the histopathology was reviewed by two consultant histopathologists. Microbiology and electron microscopy were also performed on this tissue. RESULTS: All 4 patients were aged >50 years and had multiple comorbidities. Pulmonary pathology was present in only 3 cases, and the findings were surprisingly heterogeneous. One case demonstrated several findings including diffuse alveolar damage, extensive fibrin thrombi in pulmonary arteries with pulmonary infarction, organising pneumonia and bronchopneumonia. Other findings included type 2 pneumocyte hyperplasia, intra-alveolar macrophages and squamous metaplasia. An organising pneumonia was present in 2 other cases, although these findings were not deemed to be severe enough to be the cause of death. Fibrin thrombi were present in pulmonary arteries of 3 cases. One case showed no significant acute pulmonary pathology. The cause of death could only be determined in 1 case. CONCLUSIONS: The pulmonary findings we observed are in keeping with those described in the international literature. However, the pathology was surprisingly heterogeneous between cases, and was only deemed severe enough to be the cause of death in 1 of 4 cases. While lung-targeted, standardised postmortem biopsies may be safe, easy to perform and provide useful insights into the disease, they are not suitable to replace full autopsies in determining cause of death.


Subject(s)
Biopsy , COVID-19/pathology , Lung Injury/pathology , Lung/pathology , Pulmonary Artery/pathology , Pulmonary Edema/pathology , Pulmonary Infarction/pathology , Thrombosis/pathology , Aged , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/pathology , Autopsy , C-Reactive Protein/metabolism , COVID-19/blood , COVID-19/mortality , Cause of Death , Comorbidity , Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2/epidemiology , Female , Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products/metabolism , Giant Cells/pathology , Humans , Hypertension/epidemiology , Lymphocytes/pathology , Macrophages, Alveolar/pathology , Male , Middle Aged , Obesity/epidemiology , Procalcitonin/blood , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa , Tertiary Care Centers
15.
South African Medical Journal ; 2020.
Article in English | AIM (Africa) | ID: covidwho-864962

ABSTRACT

Background. South Africa (SA) has a high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis. Cape Town was the SA metropole most affected in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Early observational data from Africa may provide valuable insight into what can be expected as the pandemic expands across the continent.Objectives. To describe the prevalence, clinical features, comorbidities and outcome of an early cohort of HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients admitted with COVID-19.Methods. This was a descriptive observational study of an early cohort of adults with COVID-19 pneumonia admitted from 25 March to 11 May 2020.Results. Of 116 patients (mean age 48 years, 61% female) admitted, 24 were HIV-positive (21%). The most common symptoms reported were cough (n=88;73%), shortness of breath (n=78;69%), fever (n=67;59%), myalgia (n=29;25%) and chest pain (n=22;20%). The most common comorbidities were hypertension (n=46;41%), diabetes mellitus (n=43;38%), obesity (n=32;28%) and HIV (n=24;21%). Mortality was associated with older age (mean (standard deviation) 55 (12) years v. 46 (14) years;p&lt;0.01);the presence of hypertension or hypertension along with diabetes and/or obesity;lower partial pressure of arterial oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen ratio;and higher urea level, white cell count, neutrophil count, and C-reactive protein, lactate dehydrogenase and ferritin levels, and high neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio. The overall survival rate for all hospital admissions was 86/116 (73%). In this early cohort, survival was similar in patients with HIV (n=18;75%) compared with those without HIV (n=67;75%) (p=1). Of the 74 patients admitted to the wards, 63 (85%) survived, whereas 22 of 42 (52%) admitted to the intensive care unit survived.Conclusions. Patients with HIV infection represented a large proportion of all COVID-19 admissions. The presentation and outcome of patients with HIV did not differ significantly from those of patients without HIV.

16.
S Afr Med J ; 110(6): 473-475, 2020 04 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-679205

ABSTRACT

The first critically ill patient admitted to our hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, during the COVID-19 pandemic was co-infected with HIV and SARS-CoV-2. Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) and other respiratory opportunistic infections share many clinical features with severe COVID-19. Our understanding of the nuances of co-management of HIV and COVID-19 is evolving. We describe the diagnostic and therapeutic challenges presented by this case.


Subject(s)
Clinical Laboratory Techniques , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , HIV Infections/complications , Pneumonia, Pneumocystis/diagnosis , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Adult , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Coinfection , Diagnosis, Differential , Humans , Male , Pandemics , South Africa
17.
S Afr Med J ; 110(6): 463-465, 2020 04 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-590260

ABSTRACT

While many countries are preparing to face the COVID-19 pandemic, the reported cases in Africa remain low. With a high burden of both communicable and non-communicable disease and a resource-constrained public healthcare system, sub-Saharan Africa is preparing for the coming crisis as best it can. We describe our early response as a designated COVID-19 provincial hospital in Cape Town, South Africa (SA).While the first cases reported were related to international travel, at the time of writing there was evidence of early community spread. The SAgovernment announced a countrywide lockdown from midnight 26 March 2020 to midnight 30 April 2020 to stem the pandemic and save lives. However, many questions remain on how the COVID-19 threat will unfold in SA, given the significant informal sector overcrowding and poverty in our communities. There is no doubt that leadership and teamwork at all levels is critical in influencing outcomes.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Hospitals , Leadership , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Humans , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , Poverty , South Africa/epidemiology
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