At least one in ten coronavirus cases in England in May were among health and care workers, according to a report published today.
Researchers say infections among hospital staff and care home workers make up a significant proportion of Covid-19 cases.
And this transmission — which often happens between people with no symptoms — acts like a ‘revolving door’ with outbreaks in the community, with both feeding off each other.
The report was produced by the Royal Society and also estimated an extra one per cent of cases were among hospital patients who caught the virus in hospital.
And another six per cent were in care home residents, the researchers said.
They pointed out that data suggests Covid-19 infection is six times more likely for healthcare workers than it is for the general population, with Office for National Statistics testing suggesting 1.87 per cent of healthcare workers would test positive compared to 0.32 per cent of the general population.
Inadequate protective equipment, not enough testing, not separating patients well enough and staff not following social distancing may all have been behind the spread, the experts suggested.
The Royal Society’s report, titled ‘Hospital and health care acquisition of COVID-19 and its control’, investigated the spread of coronavirus in hospitals and care homes in England.
It was carried out by the Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics committee (DELVE).
It tried to work out the scale of the spread – nosocomial infection – and reasons why it had happened and how to prevent it in future.
The researchers said it was important to understand the spread among health and care workers because it contributed to cases in the community as well, and vice versa.
The report said: ‘Infections in hospital have important implications for infection outcomes (hospitalised patients and some staff are at higher risk), workforce planning (healthcare workers being unable to work during peak pressure periods), and amplification of community transmission (through discharge of infectious patients and transmission to families and other contacts from healthcare workers and patients).’
Data from between April 26 and June 7, the report said, revealed that at least 10 per cent of all Covid-19 infections were in health and care workers.
This period did not include the peak of the crisis, which was at the end of March and the start of April.
But health workers made up a smaller proportion of all cases during that time, the report said, when the virus was more widespread among members of the public. Read more