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Estimating the risk of incident SARS-CoV-2 infection among healthcare workers in quarantine hospitals: the Egyptian example

, Ahmad Al Shafie, , , , the EMEA-MESuRS working group on nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 modelling
Published: 22 December 2020
Abstract: In response to the COVID-19 epidemic, Egypt established a unique care model based on quarantine hospitals where only externally-referred confirmed COVID-19 patients were admitted, and healthcare workers resided continuously over 1- to 2-week working shifts. While the COVID-19 risk for HCWs has been widely reported in standard healthcare settings, it has not been evaluated yet in quarantine hospitals. Here, we relied on longitudinal data, including results of routine RT-PCR tests, collected within three quarantine hospitals located in Cairo and Fayoum, Egypt. Using a model-based approach that accounts for the time-since-exposure variation in false-negative rates of RT-PCR tests, we computed the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection among HCWs. Over a total follow-up of 6,064 person-days (PD), we estimated an incidence rate (per 100 PD) of 1.05 (95% CrI: 0.58-1.65) at Hospital 1, 1.92 (95% CrI: 0.93-3.28) at Hospital 2 and 7.62 (95% CrI: 3.47-13.70) at Hospital 3. The probability for an HCW to be infected at the end of a shift was 13.7% (95% CrI: 7.8%-20.8%) and 23.8% (95% CrI: 12.2%-37.3%) for a 2-week shift at Hospital 1 and Hospital 2, respectively, which lies within the range of risk levels previously documented in standard healthcare settings, whereas it was >3-fold higher for a 7-day shift at Hospital 2 (42.6%, 95%CrI: 21.9%-64.4%). Our model-based estimates unveil a proportion of undiagnosed infections among HCWs of 46.4% (95% CrI: 18.8%-66.7%), 45.0% (95% CrI: 5.6%-70.8%) and 59.2% (95% CrI: 34.8%-78.8%), for Hosp1 to 3, respectively. The large variation in SARS-CoV-2 incidence we document here suggests that HCWs from quarantine hospitals may face a high occupational risk of infection, but that, with sufficient anticipation and infection control measures, this risk can be brought down to levels similar to those observed in standard healthcare settings.
Keywords: model / HCWs / quarantine hospitals / incidence / COVID / SARS / healthcare

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