COVID-19 infection rate among tertiary referral center otorhinolaryngology healthcare workers

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Abstract

IMPORTANCE: Otorhinolaryngology is considered one of the medical specialties with a high risk for exposure to corona disease 2019 (COVID-19). Uncontrolled transmission in a hospital department poses a risk to both healthcare workers (HCWs) and patients.

OBJECTIVE: To monitor SARS-CoV-2 incidence, transmission, and antibody development among HCWs to identify high risk procedures, pathways, and work areas within the department.

METHODS: Prospective cohort study of HCWs using repetitive oro- and nasopharygeal swab samples, antibody tests, and self-reported symptoms questionnaires at a tertiary referral center in Copenhagen, Denmark.

RESULTS: 347/361 (96%) HCWs participated. Seven (1.9%) were positive on swab tests and none had symptoms. Fifteen (4.2%) developed antibodies. Only one case of potential transmission between HCWs was identified. Infection rates were low and no procedures or areas within the department were identified as exposing HCWs to a higher risk.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Adherence to the surveillance program was high. The low incidence among HCW during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may reflect local transmission and infection control precautions, as well as a low infectious burden in the Danish society.

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