Extremely low prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 among healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients in Israeli hospitals: a cross-sectional study

the Healthcare Worker COVID-19 Surveillance Working Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: We aimed to compare the prevalence of asymptomatic coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) among clinical staff in designated COVID-19 units versus that among staff in similar units with no known or suspected COVID-19 patients. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of healthcare workers (HCWs) in eight Israeli general hospitals. The survey involved a questionnaire and a PCR test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We surveyed HCWs in COVID-19 units and comparison units (internal medicine and cardiology) between 30th April and 7th May 2020. Results: There were 522 participants: 291 from COVID-19 units and 231 from comparison units. Only one participant (0.2%, 95%CI: 0.005–1.1%)—an asymptomatic nurse on a COVID-19 unit—tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. In participating COVID-19 units there were two symptomatic HCWs with confirmed COVID-19 in the 2 weeks before the survey; both were infected by contact with a co-worker outside of the COVID-19 unit. Conclusions: The low prevalence of asymptomatic COVID-19 among HCWs, coupled with an absence of symptomatic COVID-19 acquired during patient care, suggest that Israel's national guidelines for personal protective equipment, which are consistent with those of the World Health Organization, adequately protect HCWs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130.e1-130.e4
JournalClinical Microbiology and Infection
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Asymptomatic infection
  • COVID-19
  • Healthcare workers
  • Infection control
  • Personal protective equipment

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