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Covid-19 infection and attributable mortality in UK Long Term Care Facilities: Cohort study using active surveillance and electronic records (March-June 2020)

By Peter F Dutey-Magni, Haydn Williams, Arnoupe Jhass, Greta Rait, Harry Hemingway, Andrew Hayward, Laura Shallcross

Posted 15 Jul 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.14.20152629

Background: Epidemiological data on COVID-19 infection in care homes are scarce. We analysed data from a large provider of long-term care for older people to investigate infection and mortality during the first wave of the pandemic. Methods: Cohort study of 179 UK care homes with 9,339 residents and 11,604 staff. We used manager-reported daily tallies to estimate the incidence of suspected and confirmed infection and mortality in staff and residents. Individual-level electronic health records from 8,713 residents were used to model risk factors for confirmed infection, mortality, and estimate attributable mortality. Results: 2,075/9,339 residents developed COVID-19 symptoms (22.2% [95% confidence interval: 21.4%; 23.1%]), while 951 residents (10.2% [9.6%; 10.8%]) and 585 staff (5.0% [4.7%; 5.5%]) had laboratory-confirmed infections. The incidence of confirmed infection was 152.6 [143.1; 162.6] and 62.3 [57.3; 67.5] per 100,000 person-days in residents and staff respectively. 121/179 (67.6%) care homes had at least one COVID-19 infection or COVID-19-related death. Lower staffing ratios and higher occupancy rates were independent risk factors for infection. 217/607 residents with confirmed infection died (case-fatality rate: 35.7% [31.9%; 39.7%]). Mortality in residents with no direct evidence of infection was two-fold higher in care homes with outbreaks versus those without (adjusted HR 2.2 [1.8; 2.6]). Conclusions: Findings suggest many deaths occurred in people who were infected with COVID-19, but not tested. Higher occupancy and lower staffing levels were independently associated with risks of infection. Protecting staff and residents from infection requires regular testing for COVID-19 and fundamental changes to staffing and care home occupancy.

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