Original Research

SARS-CoV-2 infection in public hospital medical doctors in an Eastern Cape metro

Ruan Spies, Matthew Potter, Sudarshan Govender, Luke Kirk, Simon Rauch, John Black
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 37, No 1 | a335 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v37i1.335 | © 2022 Ruan Spies, Matthew Potter, Sudarshan Govender, Luke Kirk, Simon Rauch, John Black | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 September 2021 | Published: 10 March 2022

About the author(s)

Ruan Spies, Department of Medicine, Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex, Gqeberha, South Africa
Matthew Potter, Department of Medicine, Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex, Gqeberha, South Africa
Sudarshan Govender, Department of Medicine, Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex, Gqeberha, South Africa
Luke Kirk, Department of Medicine, Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex, Gqeberha, South Africa
Simon Rauch, Department of Medicine, Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex, Gqeberha, South Africa
John Black, Department of Infectious Diseases, Livingstone Hospital, Gqeberha, South Africa; and, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Evidence-based Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures are critical in protecting medical doctors from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Concerns surrounding access to personal protective equipment (PPE), compliance with IPC measures and the quality of available PPE have been raised as possible causes for high rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in medical doctors in high transmission settings. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the risk factors for occupational infection in doctors in the hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB).

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study wherein we electronically surveyed medical doctors in public-sector NMB hospitals from 01 March 2020 to 31 December 2020. We collected demographic, health, occupational and SARS-CoV-2 infection and exposure data. Categorical data were described as proportions and a multiple variable logistic regression model was used to identify risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Results: The survey was distributed amongst 498 doctors, 141 (28%) of whom replied. Forty-three (31%) participants reported that they had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the study period. Eighty-nine participants (64%) reported inadequate access to PPE whilst only 68 (49%) participants adhered to PPE recommendations when interacting with patients with confirmed or suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection. We were unable to identify any significant predictors of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates a high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in public hospital doctors in NMB. Most participants reported inadequate access to PPE and poor compliance with IPC protocols. These findings suggest an urgent need for the improved implementation of IPC measures to protect doctors from SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Keywords

SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; occupational infection; occupational health; healthcare workers; infection prevention and control

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