Screening for COVID-19 in Asymptomatic Patients With Cancer in a Hospital in the United Arab Emirates

Humaid O. Al-Shamsi, MB, MRCP1,2,3; Eric A. Coomes, MD4; Sadir Alrawi, MD1
JAMA Oncol May 27, 2020

As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic grows, accumulating evidence suggests that patients with cancer have increased risk for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and subsequent morbidity and mortality.1-3 Further, COVID-19 may be asymptomatic.4 Despite limited evidence, the European Society for Medical Oncology recommends universal microbiologic SARS-CoV-2 screening for patients undergoing active anticancer therapy.5 To identify asymptomatic COVID-19, we implemented universal microbiologic screening for SARS-CoV-2 for all asymptomatic patients with cancer prior to anticancer therapy at Alzahra Hospital Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Such universal screening for patients with cancer was feasible in the UAE, where SARS-CoV-2 microbiologic testing is widely accessible; as of April 30, 2020, 368 patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 at Alzahra Hospital, and 12 481 patients were diagnosed in the UAE, with cumulative prevalence of 129.6 cases per 100 000 residents.

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