Nosocomial Transmission of COVID-19

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), that causes COVID-19, has rapidly spread across the world resulting in a global pandemic. There is now an urgent need to understand the epidemiology of this disease to inform control efforts and prevent transmission. As with epidemics of other coronaviruses, such as Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), there is a substantial risk of nosocomial (within hospital) transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The SARS-CoV-2 Acquisition in Frontline health Care Workers – Evaluation to Inform Response (SAFER) research programme at University College London Hospital (UCLH), aims to address this knowledge gap. The SAFER project is following healthcare workers in UCLH, tracking their acquisition of the disease and investigating the risk factors associated with transmission.

One component of the SAFER project is an ‘interaction study’, which aims to quantify the movements and interactions of healthcare workers within UCLH, and to identify the transmission pathways for SARS-CoV-2 in the hospital setting. To achieve this, data routinely collected by the hospital will be used to estimate (1) the space use of healthcare workers and (2) their interactions with staff and patients. Specifically, the data will be derived from staff rota records, card access logs and the hospitals electronic health record system (EPIC).

The results of this study will feed into agent based models that will simulate different scenarios to inform intervention strategies and help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in hospitals.