FRIDAY, March 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Appropriate hospital infection control measures can protect health care workers from novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), according to a study published online March 5 in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Vincent C.C. Cheng, M.D., from Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong, and colleagues describe infection control preparedness for COVID-19 in Hong Kong after an announcement of a cluster of pneumonia in China on Dec. 31, 2019 (day 1).

The researchers found that 3.3 percent of 1,275 patients fulfilling active and enhanced laboratory surveillance were confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2 infection from day 1 to 42. There was a significant increase in the number of locally acquired cases from one of 13 to 27 of 29 confirmed cases (day 33 to 42). Most patients (66 percent) were from eight family clusters. Of the 413 health care workers caring for these confirmed cases, 2.7 percent were found to have unprotected exposure necessitating a 14-day quarantine. None were infected, and there was no nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Through environmental surveillance performed in one infected patient, SARS-CoV-2 was identified in one of 13 environmental samples but not in eight air samples collected at 10 cm from the patient’s chin with or without wearing a surgical mask.

“A rapid infection control response is essential to contain and mitigate the risk of nosocomial transmission and outbreak,” the authors write.

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