Evolution and effects of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: a population analysis in 189 care homes in one geographical region of the UK

Burton, J. K. et al. (2020) Evolution and effects of COVID-19 outbreaks in care homes: a population analysis in 189 care homes in one geographical region of the UK. Lancet Healthy Longevity, 1(1), E21-E31. (doi: 10.1016/S2666-7568(20)30012-X) (PMID:PMC7574931)

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Abstract

Background: COVID-19 has affected care home residents internationally, but detailed information on outbreaks is scarce. We aimed to describe the evolution of outbreaks of COVID-19 in all care homes in one large health region in Scotland. Methods: We did a population analysis of testing, cases, and deaths in care homes in the National Health Service (NHS) Lothian health region of the UK. We obtained data for COVID-19 testing (PCR testing of nasopharyngeal swabs for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-CoV-2]) and deaths (COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related), and we analysed data by several variables including type of care home, number of beds, and locality. Outcome measures were timing of outbreaks, number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in care home residents, care home characteristics associated with the presence of an outbreak, and deaths of residents in both care homes and hospitals. We calculated excess deaths (both COVID-19-related and non-COVID-19-related), which we defined as the sum of deaths over and above the historical average in the same period over the past 5 years. Findings: Between March 10 and Aug 2, 2020, residents at 189 care homes (5843 beds) were tested for COVID-19 when symptomatic. A COVID-19 outbreak was confirmed at 69 (37%) care homes, of which 66 (96%) were care homes for older people. The size of care homes for older people was strongly associated with a COVID-19 outbreak (odds ratio per 20-bed increase 3·35, 95% CI 1·99–5·63). 907 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection were recorded during the study period, and 432 COVID-19-related deaths. 229 (25%) COVID-19-related cases and 99 (24%) COVID-related deaths occurred in five (3%) of 189 care homes, and 441 (49%) cases and 207 (50%) deaths were in 13 (7%) care homes. 411 (95%) COVID-19-related deaths occurred in the 69 care homes with a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, 19 (4%) deaths were in hospital, and two (<1%) were in one of the 120 care homes without a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. At the 69 care homes with a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak, 74 excess non-COVID-19-related deaths were reported, whereas ten non-COVID-19-related excess deaths were observed in the 120 care homes without a confirmed COVID-19 outbreak. 32 fewer non-COVID-19-related deaths than expected were reported among care home residents in hospital. Interpretation: The effect of COVID-19 on care homes has been substantial but concentrated in care homes with known outbreaks. A key implication from our findings is that, if community incidence of COVID-19 increases again, many care home residents will be susceptible. Shielding care home residents from potential sources of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and ensuring rapid action to minimise outbreak size if infection is introduced, will be important for any second wave.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Burton, Dr Jenni
Authors: Burton, J. K., Bayne, G., Evans, C., Garbe, F., Gorman, D., Honhold, N., McCormick, D., Othieno, R., Stevenson, J., Swietlik, S., Templeton, K. E., Tranter, M., Willocks, L., and Guthrie, B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences
Journal Name:Lancet Healthy Longevity
Publisher:Lancet Publishing Group
ISSN:2666-7568
ISSN (Online):2666-7568
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Lancet Healthy Longevity 1(1):E21-E31
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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