Investigation of a COVID-19 outbreak in a University Cardio-Thoracic Hospital in Cairo: exploration of the risk to healthcare workers and patients


COVID-19, Outbreak, Healthcare workers, Hospital


Background: Corona virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has posed a challenge to health sectors all over the world. The pandemic arrived in Egypt a few weeks after Europe and Asia, with rapidly rising numbers.  Health care workers (HCWs) are front liners sustaining a major risk of acquiring the infection.

Aim: In this work, we analyse an outbreak of COVID-19 in a University hospital in Cairo involving HCWs of different categories, patients and patients’ accompanying relatives.

Methods: Following the reporting of the first COVID-19 confirmed case; a 55-year-old nurse at the hospital, a total of 645 healthcare workers, patients and patients' accompanying relatives were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) assay.

Results: Twenty four out of 589 HCWs, 3 out of 42 patient and 4 out of 14 patients' accompanying relatives tested positive for COVID-19. No physicians, pharmacists or technicians were infected. Nursing staff and housekeeping staff were the most at risk of contracting the infection with a risk ratio of 4.99 (95%CI: 1.4-17.6) and 5.08 (95%CI: 1.4-18.4) respectively. Clustering of infected HCWs was observed in paediatrics’ ICU and in the 6th floor of the hospital.

Conclusions: Nursing and housekeeping staff sustain a significantly higher risk of COVID-19 infection compared to other staff categories. The nature of their duties and the frequent unprotected contact between members of these categories may play a role in increasing their risk.


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