Influenza Other Respir Viruses. 2020 Sep 13. doi: 10.1111/irv.12803. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the characteristics of healthcare workers (HCWs) infected with COVID-19 and to examine their sources of exposure.
METHODS: A descriptive cross-sectional study using data extracted from the centralized disease notification system comprising individuals confirmed with COVID-19 in Singapore between 23 January and 17 April 2020. Occupation of HCWs was categorized into six categories. Their job nature was classified into "frontline" or "back-end" based on the frequency of direct patient contact, and source of exposure was classified as family/household, social interaction or workplace. Chi-square and median tests were used to identify differences between categorical groups and sample medians, respectively.
RESULTS: A total of 88 (1.7%) HCWs were identified from 5,050 cases. Their median age was 35 years. Chinese and Indians constituted 42.0% and 31.8%, respectively, and 43.2% were foreigners. The majority (63.6%) was serving at frontlines handling patient-facing duties, 15.9% were doctors, 11.4% were nurses and 44.3% were ancillary staff. About 81.8% acquired the infection locally, of which 40.3% did not have a clearly identifiable source of exposure. Exposure from the family/household was most common (27.8%), followed by workplace (16.7%) and social interaction (15.3%). All HCWs were discharged well with no mortality; three (3.4%) were ever admitted to intensive care unit and required increased care.
CONCLUSION: Healthcare workers accounted for a small proportion of COVID-19 cases in Singapore with favourable outcomes. The possibility of transmission resulting from family/household exposure and social interactions highlights the need to maintain strict vigilance and precautionary measures at all times beyond the workplace.