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Disease X-19 Medical Review

medrxiv Subject Collection: Infectious Diseases: Staff testing for COVID-19 via an online pre-registration form


Background: Healthcare workers are at increased risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 and potentially causing institutional outbreaks. Staff testing is critical in identifying and isolating infected individuals while also reducing unnecessary workforce depletion. Tygerberg Hospital implemented an online pre-registration system to expedite staff and cluster testing. Objectives: We aimed to identify (1) specific presentations associated with a positive or negative result for SARS-CoV-2 and (2) staff sectors where enhanced strategies for testing might be required. Methods: Retrospective descriptive study involving all clients making use of the hospital’s pre-registration system during May 2020. Results: Of 799 clients, most were young and female with few comorbidities. The most common occupation was nurses followed by administrative staff, doctors and general assistants. Doctors tested earlier compared to other staff (median: 1.5 vs 4 days). The most frequent presenting symptoms were headache, sore throat, cough and myalgia. Amongst those testing positive (n=105), fever, altered smell, altered taste sensation, chills and history of fever were the most common symptoms. Three or more symptoms was more predictive of a positive test, but 12/145 asymptomatic clients also tested positive. Conclusion: Staff coronavirus testing using an online pre-registration form is a viable and acceptable strategy. While some presentations are less likely to be associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, no symptom can completely exclude it. Staff testing should form part of a bundle of strategies to protect staff including wearing masks, regular hand washing, buddy screening, physical distancing, availability of PPE and special dispensation for COVID-19-related leave.

medrxiv Subject Collection: Infectious Diseases