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posted on 24.06.2021, 05:36 authored by Antonella Savio, Stefano Calza, Gianbattista Guerrini, Valentina Romano, Eleonora Marchina

Background: COVID-19 outbursts have been registered worldwide within care homes with asymptomatic transmission combined with shortage/inaccuracy of diagnostic tests undermining the efforts at containment of the disease. Nursing facilities in Lombardy (Italy) were left with no, or limited, access to testing for 8 weeks after the outbreak of COVID-19.

Methods: This study includes 246 residents and 286 workers of three different nursing homes in Brescia-Lombardy. Clinical questionnaires and rapid serology tests were devised to integrate the data of the first available RT-PCR screening. Follow-up serology after 60-days was performed on 67 of 86 workers with positive serology or clinically suspicious.

Findings: Thirty-seven residents and 18 workers had previous positive RT-PCR. Thorough screening disclosed two additional RT-PCR-positive workers. Serology screening revealed antibodies in 59 residents and 48 workers, including 32/37 residents and all workers previously positive at RT-PCR. Follow up serology disclosed antibodies in two additional workers with recent symptoms at the time of screening. The professionals in close contact with residents had more infections (47/226–20.79% vs. 1/60–1.66%; p = 0.00013 Fisher exact-test). A suspicious clinical score was present in 44/64 residents and in 41/50 workers who tested positive with either method with totally asymptomatic disease more frequent among residents 28.1 vs. 10.0% (p = 0.019 Fisher exact-test).

Interpretation: Based on the available RT-PCR ± results at the time of symptoms/contacts, our integrated clinical and serological screening demonstrated sensitivity 89% and specificity 87%. This multimodal assessment proved extremely useful in understanding the viral spread in nursing homes, in defining its stage and in implementing protective measures. Rapid serology tests demonstrated efficient and particularly suited for older people less able to move/cooperate.

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