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, MD, 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% of 1275 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 1 of 13 to 27 of 29 confirmed cases (day 33 to 42). Most patients (66%) were from 8 family clusters. Of the 413 health care workers caring for these confirmed cases, 2.7% 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 1 infected patient, SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 1 of 13 environmental samples but not in 8 air samples collected at 10 cm from the patient’s chin with or without wearing a surgical mask.

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“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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