SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence in healthcare workers and administrative and support staff: The first-wave experience at three academic hospitals in the Tshwane district of Gauteng Province, South Africa
Background. The availability of well and functional healthcare workers (HCWs) and support staff is pivotal to a country’s ability to manage the COVID-19 pandemic effectively. While HCWs have been identified as being at increased risk for acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 infection, there is a paucity of data pertaining to South African (SA) HCW-related infection rates. Global and provincial disparities in these numbers necessitate local data in order to mitigate risks.
Objectives. To ascertain the overall SARS-CoV-2 infection rates and outcomes among all hospital staff at three hospitals in the Tshwane district of Gauteng Province, SA, and further determine associations with the development of severe COVID-19 disease.
Methods. This retrospective audit was conducted across three academic hospitals in the Tshwane district for the period 1 June - 31 August 2020. Deidentified data from occupational health and safety departments at each hospital were used to calculate infection rates. A more detailed analysis at one of the three hospitals included evaluation of demographics, work description, possible source of SARS-CoV-2 exposure (community or hospital), comorbidities and outcomes.
Results. The period prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections ranged from 6.1% to 15.4% between the three hospitals, with the average period prevalence being 11.1%. The highest incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections was observed among administrative staff (2.8 cases per 1 000 staff days), followed by nursing staff (2.7 cases per 1 000 staff days). Medical doctors had the lowest incidence of 1.1 cases per 1 000 staff days. SARS-CoV-2 infections were categorised as either possibly community or possibly healthcare facility acquired for 26.6% and 73.4% of the infections, respectively. The administrative group had the highest proportion of possible community-acquired infections (41.8%), while doctors had the lowest (6.1%). The mean age of individuals with mild and severe disease was 41 years and 46.1 years, respectively (p=0.004). The presence of comorbidities was significantly associated with severity of disease (p=0.002).
Conclusions. This study highlights that hospital staff, including administrative staff, are clearly at high risk for acquisition of SARS-CoV-2 infection during a surge.
N Mdzinwa, Department of Anaesthesiology, Steve Biko Academic Hospital and School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
M Voigt, Department of Anaesthesiology, Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital and School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
C Janse van Rensburg, Biostatistics Unit, South African Medical Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa
F Paruk, Department of Critical Care, Steve Biko Academic Hospital and School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa
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Date published: 2021-11-05
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