Introduction: Emerging viral diseases (EVDs) pose a significant threat to public health. There have been a few viral epidemics in the last two decades. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic.
Objective: To provide emergency physicians an update on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its dynamic impact on the emergency department (ED) in terms of preparedness and management of patients presenting to ED with suspected COVID-19 disease.
Discussion: COVID-19 has a human-to-human transmission through close contact and even from asymptomatic carriers. Symptoms are similar to a viral respiratory illness. The disease is mild and self-limiting in most patients, but some develop severe illness like pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiorgan failure. Emergency physicians should prioritize early identification of these patients at risk, isolate them and after collaborating with relevant hospital and national authorities, develop clinical pathways to safely evaluate, manage and dispose patients with COVID-19. Various strategies for managing these patients in the ED are discussed. Disposition of these patients depends on symptoms and hemodynamic status and potential to self quarantine versus admission to an isolation facility.
Conclusion: This review provides an overview of patients presenting to the ED with suspected COVID-19 and its impact on the ED. It reiterates the fact that emergency physicians, in close collaboration with relevant hospital authorities, play a pivotal role during EVDs. It emphasizes the need for pandemic preparedness, enabling us to better manage such events in the future.