The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has disrupted elective surgery globally, with millions of elective operations either postponed or cancelled1–3. Restriction of elective surgery activity was necessary during periods of high COVID-19 hospital admissions in order to divert hospital resources to ICUs4–6. However, in many countries, owing to safety concerns, reductions in COVID-19 admissions have been associated with only limited recovery of surgical services1. Even in areas with low community SARS-CoV-2 infection rates, surgical patients are at risk of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infection7, which is associated with high rates of postoperative pulmonary complications and death8,9. Although mitigation measures, such as preoperative reverse transcription (RT)–PCR swab screening and COVID-free surgical pathways, can reduce the risk of COVID-19 complications7,10, they are unlikely to be implemented universally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs)…more