Tracing asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers among 3674 hospital staff:a cross-sectional survey

Link to article at PubMed

EClinicalMedicine. 2020 Sep 15:100510. doi: 10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100510. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Asymptomatic carriers were positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) without developing symptoms, which might be a potential source of infection outbreak. Here, we aim to clarify the epidemiologic and influencing factors of asymptomatic carriers in the general population.

METHODS: In our hospital, all hospital staff have received throat swab RT-PCR test, plasma COVID-19 IgM/IgG antibodies test and chest CT examination. We analyzed the correlation between infection rates and gender, age, job position, work place and COVID-19 knowledge training of the staff. After that, all asymptomatic staff were re-examined weekly for 3 weeks.

FINDINGS: A total of 3764 hospital staff were included in this single-center cross-sectional study. Among them, 126 hospital staff had abnormal findings, and the proportion of asymptomatic infection accounted for 0.76% (28/3674). There were 26 staff with IgM+, 73 with IgG+, and 40 with ground glass shadow of chest CT. Of all staff with abnormal findings, the older they are, the more likely they are to be the staff with abnormal results, regardless of their gender. Of 3674 hospital staff, the positive rate of labor staff is obviously higher than that of health care workers (HCWs) and administrative staff (P<0.05). In the course of participating in the treatment of COVID-19, there was no statistically significant difference in positive rates between high-risk departments and low-risk departments (P>0.05). The positive rate of HCWs who participated in the COVID-19 knowledge training was lower than those did not participate in early training (P <0.01). Importantly, it was found that there was no statistical difference between the titers of IgM antibody of asymptomatic infections and confirmed patients with COVID-19 in recovery period (P>0.05). During 3 weeks follow-up, all asymptomatic patients did not present the development of clinical symptoms or radiographic abnormalities after active intervention in isolation point.

INTERPRETATION: To ensure the safety of resumption of work, institutions should conduct COVID-19 prevention training for staff and screening for asymptomatic patients, and take quarantine measures as soon as possible in areas with high density of population.

FUNDING: The Key Project for Anti-2019 novel Coronavirus Pneumonia from the Ministry of Science and Technology, China; Wuhan Emergency Technology Project of COVID-19 epidemic, China.

PMID:32954232 | PMC:PMC7490283 | DOI:10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100510

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