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Environmental contamination of the SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare premises: An urgent call for protection for healthcare workers

By Guangming Ye, Hualiang Lin, Liangjun Chen, Shichan Wang, Zhikun Zeng, Wei Wang, Shiyu Zhang, Terri Rebmann, Yirong Li, Zhenyu Pan, Zhonghua Yang, Ying Wang, Fubing Wang, Zhengmin (Min) Qian, Xinghuan Wang

Posted 16 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.11.20034546

ImportanceA large number of healthcare workers (HCWs) were infected by SARS-CoV-2 during the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China. Hospitals are significant epicenters for the human-to-human transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 for HCWs, patients, and visitors. No data has been reported on the details of hospital environmental contamination status in the epicenter of Wuhan. ObjectiveTo investigate the extent to which SARS-CoV-2 contaminates healthcare settings, including to identify function zones of the hospital with the highest contamination levels and to identify the most contaminated objects, and personal protection equipment (PPE) in Wuhan, China. DesignA field investigation was conducted to collect the surface swabs in various environments in the hospital and a laboratory experiment was conducted to examine the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA. SettingSix hundred twenty-six surface samples were collected within the Zhongnan Medical Center in Wuhan, China in the mist of the COVID-19 outbreak between February 7 - February 27, 2020. ParticipantsDacron swabs were aseptically collected from the surfaces of 13 hospital function zones, five major objects, and three major personal protection equipment (PPE). The SARS-CoV-2 RNAs were detected by reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). Main Outcomes and MeasuresSARS-CoV-2 RNAs ResultsThe most contaminated zones were the intensive care unit specialized for taking care of novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) (31.9%), Obstetric Isolation Ward specialized for pregnant women with NCP (28.1%), and Isolation Ward for NCP (19.6%). We classified the 13 zones into four contamination levels. The most contaminated objects are self-service printers (20.0%), desktop/keyboard (16.8%), and doorknob (16.0%). Both hand sanitizer dispensers (20.3%) and gloves (15.4%) were most contaminated PPE. Conclusions and RelevanceMany surfaces were contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 across the hospital in various patient care areas, commonly used objects, medical equipment, and PPE. The 13 hospital function zones were classified into four contamination levels. These findings emphasize the urgent need to ensure adequate environmental cleaning, strengthen infection prevention training, and improve infection prevention precautions among HCWs during the outbreak of COVID-19. The findings may have important implications for modifying and developing urgently needed policy to better protect healthcare workers during this ongoing pandemic of SARS-CoV-2. Key PointsO_ST_ABSQuestionC_ST_ABSWhat was the hospital setting contamination status, the most contaminated objects and PPE of SARS-CoV-2 during the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China? FindingsThe most contaminated zones were the intensive care unit for novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) (31.9%), Obstetric Isolation Ward specialized for pregnant women with NCP (28.1%), and Isolation Ward for NCP (19.6%). The most contaminated objects and PPE are self-service printers (20.0%), hand sanitizer dispensers (20.3%), and gloves (15.4%). MeaningThe findings may have important implications for modifying and developing urgently needed policy to better protect healthcare workers during this ongoing pandemic of SARS-CoV-2.

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