Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the exposure and risk of contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), among healthcare workers (HCWs) at a tertiary hospital early in the pandemic.
Materials and Methods: HCWs who presented at an occupational health outpatient clinic for COVID-19 contact tracing or assessment before returning to work between March 30, 2020 and May 31, 2020 were evaluated in this cross-sectional study. The dependent variable used was a COVID-19 diagnosis; the independent variables used were gender, marital status, age, occupation, smoking, presence of chronic disease, symptoms of COVID-19, source of contact, risk classification, and work in a COVID-19 unit. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess factors associated with the risk of COVID-19 and sources of infection.
Results: A total of 603 HCWs presented at the clinic during the study period. The most frequent sources of contact with SARS-CoV-2 were infected co-workers (50.7%) and patients at work (28.2%), followed by household contacts (9.9%). Those who worked in a COVID-19 unit had a 3.55 times greater risk of a COVID-19 diagnosis than other HCWs when adjusted for age, gender, and risk classification.
Conclusion: HCWs frequently face exposure to potential infection. Sufficient support for these workers to ensure adequate awareness of and compliance with protocols is of critical importance to protect public health. The results of this study also suggest consideration of the possibility of another source of contact for HCWs included in the no risk category. Regular screening for COVID-19 may be advisable.
Keywords: COVID-19, healthcare worker, occupational disease, risk classification.