September 22, 2020

Risk factors for COVID-19 transmission in HCWs

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

In this study from Turkey, researchers investigated the specific risk factors for COVID-19 transmission in healthcare workers (HCWs) in a tertiary care university hospital.

Of 703 HCWs tested for COVID-19 during a 60-day period, 50 (7.1%) were positive. Positivity rates were 6.3% for physicians, 8.0% for nurses, 9.1% for cleaning personnel, and 2.6% for other occupations.

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The infection rate was 8.3% for HCWs who worked in COVID-19 units and 3.4% for those who did not work in COVID-19 units.

Statistically significant risk factors for infection included:

  • the presence of a COVID-19-positive person in the household
  • inappropriate use of PPE while caring for COVID-19 infected patients
  • staying in the same personnel break room with an HCW without a mask for more than 15 minutes
  • consuming food within 3.3 feet of an HCW
  • failure to keep a safe social distance from an HCW.

The researchers concluded that HCWs have a high risk for COVID-19 transmission while caring for patients, and transmission also may occur in nonmedical areas of the hospital while speaking or eating. They recommend periodic screening of HCWs for COVID-19.


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