Infection control for SARS in a tertiary paediatric centre in Hong Kong

T F Leung, P C Ng, F W T Cheng, D J Lyon, K W So, E K L Hon, A M Li, C K Li, G W K Wong, E A S Nelson, J Hui, R Y T Sung, M C Yam, T F Fok
Journal of Hospital Infection 2004, 56 (3): 215-22
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is an emerging infectious disease. After the appearance of an index patient in Hong Kong in February 2003, SARS outbreaks occurred rapidly in hospitals and spread to the community. The aim of this retrospective study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a triage policy and risk-stratified infection control measures in preventing nosocomial SARS infection among paediatric healthcare workers (HCWs) at the Prince of Wales Hospital, a general hospital to which children with SARS are referred in Hong Kong. The acute paediatric wards were stratified into three areas: (1) ultra high-risk area, (2) high-risk area and (3) moderate-risk area according to different risk levels of nosocomial SARS transmission. The implementation of different levels of infection control precautions was guided by this risk stratification strategy. Between 13 March and 23 June, 38 patients with probable and suspected SARS, 90 patients with non-SARS pneumonia, and 510 patients without pneumonia were admitted into our unit. All probable SARS cases were isolated in negative-pressure rooms. Twenty-six HCWs worked in the ultra high-risk area caring for SARS patients and 88 HCWs managed non-SARS patients in other ward areas. None of the HCWs developed clinical features suggestive of SARS. In addition, there was no nosocomial spread of SARS-associated coronavirus to other patients or visitors during this period. In conclusion, stringent infection control precautions, appropriate triage and prompt isolation of potential SARS patients may have contributed to a lack of nosocomial spread and HCW acquisition of SARS in our unit.

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