Transmission of COVID-19 to Health Care Personnel

Transmission of COVID-19 to Health Care Personnel. Spencer  EA, Jefferson T, Heneghan C.,

Published on June 27, 2020

Reference Heinzerling A, Stuckey MJ, Scheuer T, et al. Transmission of COVID-19 to Health Care Personnel During Exposures to a Hospitalized Patient — Solano County, California, MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:472–476. DOI:
Study type
Country California, USA
Setting Hospital
Funding Details Non Reported
Transmission mode Nosocomial, Person to person
Exposures Patient Contact

Bottom Line

Unprotected, prolonged patient contact, as well as certain exposures, including some aerosol-generating procedures, were associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

Evidence Summary

121 Health care workers had been exposed to a patient with unrecognized COVID-19, forty became symptomatic and were tested for SARS-CoV-2. Three (2.5%) tested positive, all of which had unprotected patient contact.

Exposures while performing physical examinations or during nebulizer treatments or exposures of longer duration to the patient were more common among HCP with COVID-19 than those without COVID-19.

What did they do?

To characterize and compare exposures among HCP who did and did not develop COVID-19, standardized interviews were conducted with 37 hospital HCP who were symptomatic and were tested for SARS-CoV-2, including three who had positive test results.

Study reliability

This is a questionnaire study of health care personnel who had contact with a sole case. The exposures were self-reported and the recall of events is subject to bias. The low number of cases limits the conclusions and some infections may have occurred among asymptomatic exposed HCP who were not tested.

Clearly defined setting Demographic characteristics described Follow-up length was sufficient Transmission outcomes assessed Main biases are taken into consideration
Yes No No Yes No

What else should I consider?

Given health care workers are at high risk for acquiring infections all hospitals should perform a systematic analysis of their nosocomial outbreaks and publish their findings for further scrutiny

About the authors

Carl Heneghan

Carl is Professor of EBM & Director of CEBM at the University of Oxford. He is also a GP and tweets @carlheneghan. He has an active interest in discovering the truth behind health research findings

Elizabeth Spencer

Dr Elizabeth Spencer; MMedSci, PhD. Epidemiologist, Nuffield Department for Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford.

Tom Jefferson

Tom Jefferson, epidemiologist.