Diagnosis of COVID-19 based on symptomatic analysis of hospital healthcare workers in Belgium: observational study in a large Belgian tertiary care center during early COVID-19 outbreak
Objective: To identify early symptoms allowing rapid appraisal of infection with SARS-CoV-2 among healthcare workers of a large Belgian hospital.
Methods: Healthcare workers with mild symptoms of an acute respiratory tract infection were systematically screened on clinical characteristics of corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A nasopharyngeal swab was taken and analyzed by real-time Reverse-Transcription-Polymerase-Chain-Reaction (rRT-PCR).
Results: Fifty percent of 373 workers tested COVID-19 positive. The symptoms cough (82%), headache (78%), myalgia (70%), loss of smell or taste (40%), and fever more than or equal to 37.5 °C (76%) were significantly higher among those infected.
Conclusion: Where each individual symptom contributes to the clinical evaluation of possible infection, it is the combination of COVID-19 symptoms that could allow for a rapid diagnostic appraisal of the disease in a high prevalence setting. Early transmission control is important at the onset of an epidemic.
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