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To describe the infection control preparedness for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) due to SARS-CoV-2 [previously known as 2019-novel coronavirus] in the first 42 days after announcement of a cluster of pneumonia in China, on 31 December 2019 (day 1) in Hong Kong.
A bundle approach of active and enhanced laboratory surveillance, early airborne infection isolation, rapid molecular diagnostic testing, and contact tracing for healthcare workers (HCWs) with unprotected exposure in the hospitals was implemented. Epidemiological characteristics of confirmed cases, environmental and air samples were collected and analyzed.
From day 1 to day 42, forty-two (3.3%) of 1275 patients fulfilling active (n=29) and enhanced laboratory surveillance (n=13) confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2 infection. The number of locally acquired case significantly increased from 1 (7.7%) of 13 [day 22 to day 32] to 27 (93.1%) of 29 confirmed case [day 33 to day 42] (p<0.001). Twenty-eight patients (66.6%) came from 8 family clusters. Eleven (2.7%) of 413 HCWs caring these confirmed cases were found to have unprotected exposure requiring quarantine for 14 days. None of them was infected and nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was not observed. Environmental surveillance performed in a patient with viral load of 3.3x106 copies/ml (pooled nasopharyngeal/ throat swab) and 5.9x106 copies/ml (saliva) respectively. SARS-CoV-2 revealed in 1 (7.7%) of 13 environmental samples, but not in 8 air samples collected at a distance of 10 cm from patient's chin with or without wearing a surgical mask.
Appropriate hospital infection control measures could prevent nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
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