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EClinicalMedicine ; 28: 100597, 2020 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-912161


BACKGROUND: We investigated six London care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and found high rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection among residents and staff. Here we report follow-up investigations including antibody testing in the same care homes five weeks later. METHODS: Residents and staff in the initial investigation had a repeat nasal swab for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and a blood test for SARS CoV-2 antibodies using ELISA based on SARS-CoV-2 native viral antigens derived from infected cells and virus neutralisation. FINDINGS: Of the 518 residents and staff in the initial investigation, 186/241 (77.2%) surviving residents and 208/254 (81.9%) staff underwent serological testing. Almost all SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR positive residents and staff were seropositive five weeks later, whether symptomatic (residents 35/35, 100%; staff, 22/22, 100%) or asymptomatic (residents 32/33, 97.0%; staff 21/22, 95.5%). Symptomatic but SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR negative residents and staff also had high seropositivity rates (residents 23/27, 85.2%; staff 18/21, 85.7%), as did asymptomatic RT-PCR negative individuals (residents 61/91, 67.0%; staff 95/143, 66.4%). Neutralising antibody was detected in 118/132 (89.4%) seropositive individuals and was not associated with age or symptoms. Ten residents (10/79 re-tested, 12.7%) remained RT-PCR positive but with higher RT-PCR cycle threshold values; 7/10 had serological testing and all were seropositive. New infections were detected in three residents and one staff. INTERPRETATION: RT-PCR provides a point prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection but significantly underestimates total exposure in outbreak settings. In care homes experiencing large COVID-19 outbreaks, most residents and staff had neutralising SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which was not associated with age or symptoms. FUNDING: PHE.

J Infect ; 81(4): 621-624, 2020 Oct.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-801950


BACKGROUND: Care homes have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to suffer large outbreaks even when community infection rates are declining, thus representing important pockets of transmission. We assessed occupational risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection among staff in six care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak during the peak of the pandemic in London, England. METHODS: Care home staff were tested for SARS-COV-2 infection by RT-PCR and asked to report any symptoms, their contact with residents and if they worked in different care homes. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed on RT-PCR positive samples. RESULTS: In total, 53 (21%) of 254 staff were SARS-CoV-2 positive but only 12/53 (23%) were symptomatic. Among staff working in a single care home, SARS-CoV-2 positivity was 15% (2/13), 16% (7/45) and 18% (30/169) in those reporting no, occasional and regular contact with residents. In contrast, staff working across different care homes (14/27, 52%) had a 3.0-fold (95% CI, 1.9-4.8; P<0.001) higher risk of SARS-CoV-2 positivity than staff working in single care homes (39/227, 17%). WGS identified SARS-CoV-2 clusters involving staff only, including some that included staff working across different care homes. CONCLUSIONS: SARS-CoV-2 positivity was significantly higher among staff working across different care homes than those who were working in the same care home. We found local clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infection between staff only, including those with minimal resident contact. Infection control should be extended for all contact, including those between staff, whilst on care home premises.

Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Homes for the Aged/statistics & numerical data , Medical Staff/statistics & numerical data , Nursing Homes/statistics & numerical data , Occupational Exposure/adverse effects , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Betacoronavirus/genetics , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/transmission , England/epidemiology , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Infection Control/methods , London/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/transmission , SARS-CoV-2 , Whole Genome Sequencing
EClinicalMedicine ; 26: 100533, 2020 Sep.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-753678


BACKGROUND: Care homes are experiencing large outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with high case-fatality rates. We conducted detailed investigations in six London care homes reporting suspected COVID-19 outbreaks during April 2020. METHODS: Residents and staff had nasal swabs for SARS CoV-2 testing using RT-PCR and were followed-up for 14 days. They were categorized as symptomatic, post-symptomatic or pre-symptomatic if they had symptoms at the time of testing, in the two weeks before or two weeks after testing, respectively, or asymptomatic throughout. Virus isolation and whole genome sequencing (WGS) was also performed. FINDINGS: Across the six care homes, 105/264 (39.8%) residents were SARS CoV-2 positive, including 28 (26.7%) symptomatic, 10 (9.5%) post-symptomatic, 21 (20.0%) pre-symptomatic and 46 (43.8%) who remained asymptomatic. Case-fatality at 14-day follow-up was highest among symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 positive residents (10/28, 35.7%) compared to asymptomatic (2/46, 4.3%), post-symptomatic (2/10, 20.0%) or pre-symptomatic (3/21,14.3%) residents. Among staff, 53/254 (20.9%) were SARS-CoV-2 positive and 26/53 (49.1%) remained asymptomatic. RT-PCR cycle-thresholds and live-virus recovery were similar between symptomatic/asymptomatic residents/staff. Higher RT-PCR cycle threshold values (lower virus load) samples were associated with exponentially decreasing ability to recover infectious virus (P<0.001). WGS identified multiple (up to 9) separate introductions of different SARS-CoV-2 strains into individual care homes. INTERPRETATION: A high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 positivity was found in care homes residents and staff, half of whom were asymptomatic and potential reservoirs for on-going transmission. A third of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 residents died within 14 days. Symptom-based screening alone is not sufficient for outbreak control. FUNDING: None.