12 May 2020
A study by researchers at Addenbrooke’s and the University of Cambridge published today in the journal eLife, helped by £25,000 in funding from donations to Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, has shown that a small proportion of hospital staff can carry COVID-19 without realising they’re infected.
The Cambridge team pro-actively swabbed and tested over 1,200 NHS staff at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in April. Of the more than 1,000 staff members reporting fit for duty during the study period, 3% nevertheless tested positive for the Covid-19 virus despite full PPE always being available.
The results of the study suggest that across UK hospitals as many as 15,000 workers may have been on duty and infected, with the potential to transmit the virus to co-workers, family members and patients during the month of April.
Senior authors Mike Weekes and Steve Baker say that constant testing of staff is needed regardless of whether they have any symptoms, which will be vital to stop infection spreading within the hospital setting.
You can hear Chris Smith’s interview on Radio 4 yesterday from 1:09:35 here: www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000j1yr
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