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Front-line healthcare staff at greater risk of COVID-19 than public, despite PPE – study

Reseachers recommend stricter protocols for social distancing among healthcare workers 
Healthcare staff wearing personal protective equipment

Reseachers recommend stricter protocols for social distancing among healthcare workers

Even with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), front-line healthcare workers are at an increased risk of COVID-19 compared with the general population, a study has found .

Using information from the Covid Symptom Study app, researchers from Kings College London (KCL) and Harvard University in the United States looked at data from 2,035,395 individuals and 99,795 front-line healthcare workers in the UK and US between 24 March and 23 April.

They found that the prevalence of Sars-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, was 2,747 cases per 100,000 front-line healthcare workers, compared with 242 cases per 100,000 people in the general community.

Reseachers recommend stricter protocols for social distancing among healthcare workers 


Picture: PA

Even with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), front-line healthcare workers are at an increased risk of COVID-19 compared with the general population, a study has found.

Using information from the Covid Symptom Study app, researchers from King’s College London (KCL) and Harvard University in the United States looked at data from 2,035,395 individuals and 99,795 front-line healthcare workers in the UK and US between 24 March and 23 April.

They found that the prevalence of Sars-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, was 2,747 cases per 100,000 front-line healthcare workers, compared with 242 cases per 100,000 people in the general community.

View our COVID-19 resource centre

While the researchers said PPE was still important to reduce the risk to healthcare workers, the findings highlighted the need for additional strategies to protect staff, such as ensuring the correct application and removal of PPE, and avoiding its reuse.

BAME staff ‘experience elevated risk of infection’

One of the study’s senior authors, KCL’s Sebastien Ourselin, said the findings also revealed a greater risk for certain groups of staff.

‘In particular we note that the BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] community experience elevated risk of infection and in some cases lack access to adequate PPE, or frequently reuse equipment,’ he said.

Importance of social distancing in healthcare settings 

KCL’s lead clinical researcher Claire Steves said it is important to reinforce social distancing where possible for all interaction in healthcare settings.

‘Stricter protocols for socialising among healthcare staff also need to be considered,’ she added.


View the study

Risk of COVID-19 among front-line health-care workers and the general community: a prospective cohort study


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