Nasopharyngeal testing among healthcare workers (HCWs) of a large university hospital in Milan, Italy during two epidemic waves of COVID-19

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Abstract

Background: since October 2020, a second SARS-CoV-2 epidemic wave has hit Italy. We investigate the frequency of positive nasopharyngeal swabs among HCWs during the two waves and the association with occupation and demographic characteristics. Methods: this is a retrospective, observational study conducted in a large university hospital in Milan, Northern Italy. We defined two epidemic waves: 1st (February 2020–July 2020) and 2nd (August 2020–January 2021). Occupational and demographic characteristics of HCWs who underwent nasopharyngeal swabs for SARS-CoV-2 were collected. Results: in the 1st wave, 242 positive subjects (7.2%) were found among 3378 HCWs, whereas in the 2nd wave, the positive subjects were 545 out of 4465 (12.2%). In both epidemic waves positive NPSs were more frequent among HCWs with health-related tasks and lower among students (p < 0.001). However, in the 2nd wave, workers engaged in non-health-related tasks had a peak of 20.7% positivity. Among 160 positive HCWs in the 1st wave who were tested again in the 2nd wave, the rate of reinfection based on SARS-CoV2 RNA cycle quantification value was 0.6%. Conclusions: during the 2nd epidemic wave, we confirmed a significant impact of COVID-19 among HCWs. The rise of infection rate among HCWs seems to reflect the increasing spread of SARS-CoV-2 among the overall population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8748
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number16
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Healthcare operators
  • Nasopharyngeal swab
  • Reinfection
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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