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Occupational versus community risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among employees of a long-term care facility: an observational study

By Lauriane Lenggenhager, Romain Martischang, Julien Sauser, Monica Perez, Laure Vieux, Christophe E Graf, Samuel Cordey, Florian Laubscher, Tomas Robalo Nunes, Walter Zingg, Anne Cori, Stephan Harbarth, Mohamed Abbas

Posted 26 Oct 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.10.22.21265309

Objectives: We investigated the relative contribution of occupational (vs. community) exposure for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among employees of a university-affiliated long-term care facility (LTCF), during the 1st pandemic wave in Switzerland (March to June 2020). Methods: We performed a nested analysis of a seroprevalence study among all volunteering LTCF staff to determine community and nosocomial risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity using modified Poison regression. We also combined epidemiological and genetic sequencing data from a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak investigation in a LTCF ward to infer transmission dynamics and acquisition routes of SARS-CoV-2, and evaluated strain relatedness using a maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree. Results: Among 285 LTCF employees, 176 participated in the seroprevalence study, of whom 30 (17%) were seropositive for SARS-CoV-2. Most (141/176, 80%) were healthcare workers (HCWs). Risk factors for seropositivity included exposure to a COVID-19 inpatient (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 2.6; 95%CI 0.9-8.1) and community contact with a COVID-19 case (aPR 1.7; 95%CI 0.8-3.5). Among 18 employees included in the outbreak investigation, the outbreak reconstruction suggests 4 likely importation events by HCWs with secondary transmissions to other HCWs and patients. Conclusions: These two complementary epidemiologic and molecular approaches suggest a substantial contribution of both occupational and community exposures to COVID-19 risk among HCWs in LTCFs. These data may help to better assess the importance of occupational health hazards and related legal implications during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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