During the current pandemic, healthcare workers are at high risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and are generally at higher risk of infection by respiratory pathogens. They may be infected by hand-to-mouth or mucous membrane contacts, direct droplet spatter from coughs and sneezes and by inhalation of fine droplets of lung fluids. There is little evidence about the concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 virus in the air or on surfaces in hospitals and other healthcare settings, which makes it difficult to judge the relative importance of these routes and hence the best way to effectively protect healthcare workers.
Our research project will collect air and surface contamination data from hospitals in Scotland, along with information about infection risk behaviours of staff, for example touching potentially contaminated surfaces and then touching their face. These data will be used to mathematically model the routes by which virus can infect workers, and this model will then be used to explore the effectiveness of various novel intervention strategies designed to protect workers, such as the treatment of surfaces to reduce survival of virus, use of localised and room filtration ventilation, use of surgical masks or respirators and other measures.
We will use this blog to present some of the results from our research and to discuss options to better control the risk for healthcare workers. You will find information to help design Covid-safe workplaces in hospitals and other healthcare settings here.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the funder or their employers.
This research has been funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist Office.