A cluster of coronavirus infections at a hospital in eastern China can be traced to two port loading staff who were infected in September and were sent to a CAT scan room at the medical centre, leading to the infection of other patients, authorities said on Friday.
The national and provincial centres for disease control said they examined samples from the most recent cluster at the Qingdao Chest Hospital in Qingdao, Shandong province, and found that they were very similar to samples taken from the port staff, according to state media reports.
The two loaders, who did not show any symptoms of infection, were sent to the hospital on September 24 for quarantine and treatment. Since then, more than 20,000 workers at the Qingdao port have been tested.
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Investigations concluded that the patients in the new cluster did not have contact with the workers outside the hospital. Surveillance camera footage showed that while they were being quarantined, the port workers were taken to the CAT (computed tomography) scan room for examination.
“Due to unregulated disease control and sanitation measures, the CAT room was contaminated by the virus, which in turn infected another patient, Li, and Li’s carer Niu the following morning, and the virus was then spread to the tuberculosis ward, leading to this cluster infection at the hospital,” People’s Daily reported. It said no community transmission had occurred.
The Qingdao Chest Hospital is a designated Covid-19 treatment centre. It was temporarily closed last week after a former patient, a former worker and the worker’s husband all tested positive.
As of this week, 12 cases were found at the hospital, breaking the country’s record of 55 days without local transmission.
Qingdao has since tested 11 million residents and no further cases were found.
China Newsweek reported that the Qingdao Chest Hospital had only one CAT scan room, but several medical staff were adamant that “strict sanitation measures are always followed after use”.
Several governments had previously released safety guidelines for CAT scan rooms during the national virus outbreak. One such guideline was issued by the Shaanxi Centre for Disease Control and Prevention which said sanitation measures needed to be taken, hospital corridors and public space must be designed to take into account the needs of the patients and doctors to avoid cross infection.
It said that if the hospital had only one CAT scan machine, regular patients and suspected Covid-19 patients needed to take separate exams. When a suspected case finished the examination, the room and equipment needed to be sanitised, and regular patients should wait at least half an hour before being examined.
Officials said Sui Zhenhua, Communist Party secretary and director of the Qingdao Health Commission, was suspended, and Deng Kai, president of the Qingdao Chest Hospital, had been sacked over their responsibility for the cluster infections.
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This article Coronavirus: ‘poor disinfection’ caused virus to spread from port workers to create hospital cluster first appeared on South China Morning Post