Am J Infect Control. 2021 Jan 9:S0196-6553(21)00005-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2021.01.005. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The proportion of positive patients admitted to acute-care hospitals for reasons other than coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) is unknown. These patients potentially put other patients and healthcare workers at risk of infection.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to define the proportion of asymptomatic patients admitted with severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). Secondary objectives were to define the positivity rate, reasons for admission, and the geographic distribution in the region.
METHODS: Universal surveillance testing for SARS-CoV-2 was performed on patients admitted to this hospital over a 12-week period from April 9, 2020 to July 1, 2020. Positive patients were categorized as either symptomatic or asymptomatic as defined by the 11 criteria per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The positivity rate, proportion with and without symptoms, reasons for admission, and geographic distribution in the region were recorded.
RESULTS: The positivity rate ranged from 0.8% to 6.2%. The proportion of asymptomatic patients with SARS-CoV-2 was 37%. Asymptomatic patients primarily presented to the hospital because of either trauma or labor. Some clusters in the region were identified of both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.
CONCLUSIONS: The proportion of asymptomatic patients admitted with SARS-CoV-2 was significant. Identifying and isolating asymptomatic patients likely prevented exposure and development of hospital-acquired COVID-19 cases among healthcare workers and other patients, supporting the universal surveillance of all admitted patients.