Background and objectives: Despite the increasing evidence supporting the importance of airborne transmission in SARS-CoV-2 infection, it has not been considered relevant in the vast majority of reported nosocomial outbreaks of COVID-19. The aim of this study is to describe a nosocomial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 infection whose features suggest that aerosol transmission had an important role. Methods: This is a descriptive analysis of a nosocomial outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 infection in an internal medicine ward that occurred in December 2020. All cases were confirmed by a positive PCR test for SARS-CoV-2. Results: From December 5 to December 17, 21 patients and 44 healthcare workers (HCWs) developed a nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infection. Fifty-one of the 65 cases (78.5%) were diagnosed between December 6 and 9. The attack rate in patients was 80.8%. Among HCWs, the attack rate was higher in those who had worked at least one full working day in the ward (56.3%) than in those who had occasionally been in the ward (25.8%; p = 0.005). Three days before the first positive case was detected, two extractor fans were found to be defective, affecting the ventilation of three rooms. Sixteen cases were asymptomatic, 48 cases had non-severe symptoms, and 2 cases required admission to the intensive care unit. All patients eventually recovered. Conclusion: The high attack rate, the explosive nature of the outbreak, and the coincidence in time with the breakdown in air extractors in some rooms of the ward suggest that airborne transmission played a key role in the development of the outbreak.
Airborne transmission; Outbreak; COVID-19
Andrés M, García MC, Fajardo A, Grau L, Pagespetit L, Plasencia V, et al. Nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 in an internal medicine ward: Probable airborne transmission. Rev Clin Esp (Eng Ed). 2022 Dec;222(10):578-83.
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