Hospitals hold no extra risk, not Covid transmission hubs: Study | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Hospitals are not epicentres of Covid-19 transmission and healthcare workers pose no greater infection risk than the general population, says a study conducted by Bangalore Baptist Hospital and published recently in Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology.
According to the study, high virus exposure does not translate into heightened transmission in the presence of ‘adequate and rational’ infection-control practices. The sero prevalence of Covid-19 among healthcare workers in the tertiary care hospital was comparable to that of the general population in the early and late phases of the pandemic in 2020, even with reasonably high virus exposure. Infection-control policies that are practical and inclusive proved advantageous during this pandemic, says the study, which concludes that hospitals hold no extra risk.
Serial sero epidemiological surveys were conducted among healthcare workers of the 340-bed tertiary care hospital. Workers who were healthy and had tested negative for SARS CoV2 in the past were tested for Covid antibodies in two phases (May-June 2020 and September-November 2020). Those who had tested positive were excluded from the study.
The first phase had 211 healthcare workers and second phase 206. The mean age was 35, and 123 staffers were part of both the surveys.
None of the 211 participants showed antibodies in the first phase. “Our results were similar to the ICMR reporting a national sero prevalence of 0.7% during May-June 2020 and 0.5% among the general population in Bengaluru Urban district. All these reports imply a low exposure to Covid-19 during May-June 2020, and the healthcare workers had the same risk or may be even lower compared to the community,” the researchers said.
The phase 2 study showed a sero prevalence of 9.2% in the studied cohort. During the same time, the national sero prevalence was 18.8%, according to an ICMR study. A Karnataka government study released in 2021 put the sero prevalence among the general population of Bengaluru Urban at 22% in August-September 2020.
“This clearly shows an increased exposure to Covid-19 as compared to the earlier months. The sero prevalence among healthcare workers was almost half of that of the general population ( 9.2% vs 18.8%),” said Dr Carolin Elizabeth George, head, community health and research division, Bangalore Baptist Hospital, who spearheaded the study.
The researchers say that in the hospital with 1,377 staffers, a total 238 tested positive for Covid until November 2020 and were not included in the survey. “When we included a 17.3% infection rate among our staff, an estimated 26.5% of the hospital’s healthcare workers had evidence of an active or recent Covid-19 infection. This is lower than the 27.3% sero prevalence estimated among the general population by the Karnataka government,” said Dr George.
The researchers said that the overall infection rate of 1.6% in the hospital was lower than that of the state’s 2.8% during the study period.
Apart from Dr George, Dr Sindhulina Chandrasingh and Dr Leeberk Raja Inbaraj were also part of the study.
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Sagar Biswas

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