Research

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

N Mdzinwa, M Voigt, C Janse van Rensburg, F Paruk

Abstract


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.

 


Authors' affiliations

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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Keywords

SARS-CoV-2; Healthcare worker; Infections

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(11):1092-1097. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i11.15938

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-11-05
Date published: 2021-11-05

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