Health workers still have greater Covid risk 'despite adequate PPE'

Health & NHS

Health workers still have greater Covid risk 'despite adequate PPE'

Health workers are still at an increased risk of being infected with coronavirus even when wearing correct PPE, researchers from King’s College London and Harvard have found, with BAME health workers especially at risk.

Reviewing data from 2,035,395 individuals and 99,785 healthcare workers in the UK and US, the researchers found that SARS-CoV-2 had a prevalence of 2,747 cases per 100,000 health workers and 242 cases per 100,000 in the “general community”.

Health workers who reported having adequate PPE had a three-fold increased risk relative to the general population, while those with inadequate PPE had a further increase in risk.

And health workers from BAME backgrounds had an especially high risk, with at least a fivefold greater chance of testing positive for Covid-19 than the non-Hispanic white general community.

The data was captured by the COVID Symptom Tracker App.

Professor Sebastien Ourselin, senior author from King's College London said: "The findings of our study have tremendous impact for healthcare workers and hospitals. The data is clear in revealing that there is still an elevated risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection despite availability of PPE.

"In particular we note that that the BAME community experience elevated risk of infection and in some cases lack access to adequate PPE, or frequently reuse equipment."

Dr Claire Steves, lead clinical researcher from King's College London said: "I'm very pleased we have now introduced masks and social distancing where possible for all interactions in hospitals - to protect ourselves and the population we serve. We need to ensure this is reinforced and sustained throughout the health service - including in health care settings outside hospitals, for example in care homes.

"Additional protective strategies are equally as important, such as implementing social distancing among healthcare staff. Stricter protocols for socialising among healthcare staff also need to be considered."

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