Deakin University

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A longitudinal environmental surveillance study for SARS-CoV-2 from the emergency department of a teaching hospital in Hong Kong

journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-25, 04:52 authored by L Yung, LY Leung, KH Lee, S Morrell, MW Fong, NHY Fung, KL Cheng, P Kaewpreedee, Y Li, BJ Cowling, EHY Lau, DSC Hui, CA Graham, HL Yen
Background: Understanding factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 exposure risk in the hospital setting may help improve infection control measures for prevention. Aim: To monitor SARS-CoV-2 exposure risk among healthcare workers and to identify risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 detection. Methods: Surface and air samples were collected longitudinally over 14 months spanning 2020–2022 at the Emergency Department (ED) of a teaching hospital in Hong Kong. SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA was detected by real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Ecological factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 detection were analysed by logistic regression. A sero-epidemiological study was conducted in January–April 2021 to monitor SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence. A questionnaire was used to collect information on job nature and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) of the participants. Findings: SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected at low frequencies from surfaces (0.7%, N = 2562) and air samples (1.6%, N = 128). Crowding was identified as the main risk factor, as weekly ED attendance (OR = 1.002, P=0.04) and sampling after peak-hours of ED attendance (OR = 5.216, P=0.03) were associated with the detection of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA from surfaces. The low exposure risk was corroborated by the zero seropositive rate among 281 participants by April 2021. Conclusion: Crowding may introduce SARS-CoV-2 into the ED through increased attendances. Multiple factors may have contributed to the low contamination of SARS-CoV-2 in the ED, including hospital infection control measures for screening ED attendees, high PPE compliance among healthcare workers, and various public health and social measures implemented to reduce community transmission in Hong Kong where a dynamic zero COVID-19 policy was adopted.



Journal of Hospital Infection













Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal


Elsevier BV