COVID-19 Case Definitions

Go to the profile of Julie Grishaw, ACNP
Mar 23, 2020
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The WHO provides and updates case definitions as pertaining to COVID-19, including the following:

Suspect case

A patient with acute respiratory illness (fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease, e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND a history of travel to or residence in a location reporting community transmission of COVID-19 disease during the 14 days prior to symptom onset.

OR

A patient with any acute respiratory illness AND having been in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case (see definition of contact) in the last 14 days prior to symptom onset;

OR

A patient with severe acute respiratory illness (fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease, e.g., cough, shortness of breath; AND requiring hospitalization) AND in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that fully explains the clinical presentation.

Probable case

A suspect case for whom testing for the COVID-19 virus is inconclusive.

  • Inconclusive being the result of the test reported by the laboratory.

OR

A suspect case for whom testing could not be performed for any reason.

Confirmed case

A person with laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection, irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms.

• Technical guidance for laboratory testing can be found here.

Definition of contact

A contact is a person who experienced any one of the following exposures during the 2 days before and the 14 days

after the onset of symptoms of a probable or confirmed case:

1. Face-to-face contact with a probable or confirmed case within 1 meter and for more than 15 minutes;

2. Direct physical contact with a probable or confirmed case;

3. Direct care for a patient with probable or confirmed COVID-19 disease without using proper personal

protective equipment

OR

4. Other situations as indicated by local risk assessments. Note: for confirmed asymptomatic cases, the period of contact is measured as the 2 days before through the 14 days after the date on which the sample was taken which led to confirmation.

Go to the profile of Julie Grishaw, ACNP

Julie Grishaw, ACNP

Senior Editor, McGraw-Hill Education

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