Frontline healthcare workers in Wuhan who were appropriately protected did not contract COVID-19, new research has revealed.
In a study published by The BMJ, researchers found PPE is effective in preventing infection among healthcare workers who work in high-risk environments.
The team acknowledged the healthcare professionals were working away from home, with the lack of social interaction therefore contributing to the absence of infection.
However, they say this does not change their conclusion. They stated healthcare systems ‘must give priority to the procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment’.
They should also ‘provide adequate training to healthcare professionals in its use’.
During the deployment period, none of the study participants reported any symptoms of COVID-19. Additionally, they all tested negative for COVID-19 infection or its antibodies once they returned home.
The researchers – from Sun Yat-sen University in China and University of Birmingham in the UK – based their findings on 420 healthcare professionals who were deployed in Wuhan.
The group spent six to eight weeks in the city from 24 January to 7 April 2020, working four to six hour shifts for an average of 5.4 days.
All participants had access to appropriate PPE – including protective suits, gloves, masks, goggles, face shields and gowns. They also received training on how to use the PPE correctly and reduce infection.
Prioritise healthcare systems
The research team points out the study does not look into the minimal level of PPE required to stop transmission.
The findings also only apply to frontline staff.
‘However, this limitation does not affect our conclusion that appropriate PPE is effective in preventing infection in healthcare professionals who work in highly exposed environments,” the researchers write.
‘Before a safe and effective vaccine becomes available, healthcare professionals remain susceptible to COVID-19.
‘Healthcare systems must give priority to the procurement and distribution of PPE. They must provide adequate training to healthcare professionals in its use.’
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