With COVID-19 being a real concern among healthcare workers and patients, especially those with underlying conditions like COPD, and considering the importance of disinfection in medical settings, what would you suggest as a solution to this problem?

Though COPD is not contagious, people with COPD are at higher risk of severe complications from a pulmonary virus like COVID-19 and may be carriers of the virus as well. To avoid these complications and protect themselves, healthcare workers should practice thorough disinfecting and hygiene measures like washing hands, wearing gloves and masks, and making sure people with underlying conditions like COPD aren't exposed to other pulmonary viruses. 

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The question regarding concerns among health workers and patients with underlying conditions like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) has been submitted within the context of global concerns regarding a pandemic involving the COVID-19 virus, or Coronavirus. As such, and given the wording of the question, especially the reference to disinfecting, what follows will reflect concerns regarding contagions and the spread of bacteria and viruses.

COPD is not contagious. It does not spread from patient to patient or from patient to health care worker. It is caused by damage to the lungs from smoking or from protracted exposure to pollutants, usually industrial-related. It is progressive. From an infectious disease perspective, however, it is not considered a societal risk on the scale of influenza, COVID-19, or any other communicable disease or disorder. Patients diagnosed with COPD are, however, at greater risk of severe complications resulting from a pulmonary virus like COVID-19.

While COPD is not contagious, its symptoms do present concerns regarding contagion. Among those symptoms is the frequent production and expelling through coughing of sputum or mucus and therein lies the problem. Patients with COPD should be and routinely are treated as carriers of viruses and bacteria against which prudent precautions should be taken. Such precautions, though, are entirely consistent with those routinely practiced by medical staff anyway, such as frequent washing of hands and wearing of masks—in effect, the same precautions many people are taking today in light of concerns over COVID-19. So, yes, disinfecting of surroundings and of medical staff hands before and after treatment of individual patients is required.

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