Screening for viruses and communicable diseases has experienced great advances in recent years, enabling a high number of people to be tested faster, more safely and prevent the spread of infection. ISO is at the forefront of developing standards that will help healthcare organizations and governments respond more rapidly and capably to pandemics and emergencies.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many different models of infectious disease screening, including contactless drive-through and walk-through stations, have been rapidly deployed around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned that healthcare workers, despite precautions being taken, continue to be exposed to excessively high levels of risk relative to the rest of the population.
With the safety of both the healthcare provider and the patient in mind, ISO technical committee ISO/TC 304, Healthcare organization management, established a working group (WG 4) to focus on how best to cut the chain of transmission in situations of pandemic. WG 4, Pandemic preparation response, aims to develop standards that will help healthcare organizations run safe and fast testing facilities with the ability to rapidly quarantine and treat patients without increasing infection rates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the importance of developing and maintaining healthcare systems that are not only able to handle such crises, but that can spring into immediate action to reduce the spread of infectious diseases quickly and effectively at the first signs of an outbreak. Three standards currently being worked on are ISO 5258 (drive-through screening stations for infectious disease control), ISO 5472 (walk-through screening stations for infectious disease control) and ISO 5741 (pandemic response in residential treatment centres). These standards will provide an effective infection control strategy by giving health workers the ability to quickly identify, isolate and treat patients through rapid examination.