Study Confirms Multi-Bed Hospital Rooms Play Significant Role in SARS-CoV-2 Transmission

Risk factors for nosocomial COVID-19 outbreaks continue to evolve. The aim of this study by Leal, et al. (2023) was to investigate a multi-ward nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 Sept. 1 through Nov. 15, 2020, occurring in a setting without vaccination for any healthcare workers or patients.

Outbreak report and retrospective, matched case–control study using incidence density sampling in three cardiac wards in an 1,100-bed tertiary teaching hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Patients were confirmed/probable COVID-19 cases and contemporaneous control patients without COVID-19. COVID-19 outbreak definitions were based on Public Health guidelines. Clinical and environmental specimens were tested by RT-PCR and as applicable quantitative viral cultures and whole genome sequencing were conducted. Controls were inpatients on the cardiac wards during the study period confirmed to be without COVID-19, matched to outbreak cases by time of symptom onset dates, age within ± 15 years and were admitted in hospital for at least 2 days. Demographics, Braden Score, baseline medications, laboratory measures, co-morbidities, and hospitalization characteristics were collected on cases and controls. Univariate and multivariate conditional logistical regression was used to identify independent risk factors for nosocomial COVID-19.

The outbreak involved 42 healthcare workers and 39 patients. The strongest independent risk factor for nosocomial COVID-19 (IRR 3.21, 95% CI 1.47–7.02) was exposure in a multi-bedded room. Of 45 strains successfully sequenced, 44 (97.8%) were B.1.128 and differed from the most common circulating community lineages. SARS-CoV-2 positive cultures were detected in 56.7% (34/60) of clinical and environmental specimens. The multidisciplinary outbreak team observed eleven contributing events to transmission during the outbreak.

The researchers conclude that transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2 in hospital outbreaks are complex; however multi-bedded rooms play a significant role in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Reference: Leal J, et al. Patient and ward related risk factors in a multi-ward nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19: Outbreak investigation and matched case–control study. Antimicrobial Resistance & Infection Control. Vol. 12, article number: 21 (2023)