Jameson, et al. (2020) sought to assess the amount of asymptomatic positivity for SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare workers (HCWs) caring for COVID-19 patients. Assess uptake in testing amongst exposed healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 positive patients.
Free, voluntary SARS-CoV-2 testing was made available to asymptomatic hospital staff caring for COVID-19 positive patients over a two-week period. The study was conducted in a 283-bed teaching hospital in an urban setting within Michigan. The program was offered to asymptomatic patient facing hospital staff in areas deemed to be of the highest risk based on likelihood of exposure to COVID-19 cases.
Volunteer participants were tested utilizing the Cepheid GeneXpert RT-PCR platform via nasopharyngeal swabs and results were made available within four hours of testing. Of 499 eligible participants, 121 personnel volunteered to undergo testing. All 121 tests were negative for SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers conclude that rigorous infection control practices, including universal patient testing, symptom screening of hospital workers, and cohorting of COVID-19 patients, are an effective method of preventing SARS-CoV-2 acquisition in healthcare workers routinely caring for COVID-19 positive patients. They emphasize that successful implementation of these strategies may represent an effective alternative to routine and repeated testing of asymptomatic healthcare workers.
Reference: Jameson A, Biersack M, Sebastian T and Jacques L. SARS-CoV-2 screening of asymptomatic healthcare workers. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. July 23, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/ice.2020.361