What was the COVID-19 infection rate among healthcare workers in a hospital in Wuhan, China?

Doctor, Physician, Coronavirus, Quarantine, Covid-19

Bottom Line:

Around 1% (110 of 9,684) of healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19 but the rate was not consistent across all healthcare workers. Women, nurses under 45 years of age, and those working in non-COVID areas had significantly higher rates of infection.


Lai, X. et al. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) infection among health care workers and implications for prevention measures in a tertiary hospital in Wuhan, China. JAMA Network Open (2020). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.9666

Date Published:

21 May 2020


Evidence on the transmission of COVID-19 has begun to point to higher-than-average rates of infection among healthcare workers. This study examined the rates of infection among healthcare workers in a hospital in Wuhan, China. The authors identified all healthcare workers who tested positive for COVID-19 (110 of 9,684) and collected data related to their work area, demographics, symptoms, among other information. Additionally, the authors randomly screened 335 healthcare workers to test for rates of asymptomatic infection (that is, those who were not yet displaying symptoms). Overall, 79 of 110 (71.8%) healthcare workers were women; nurses were more likely than physicians to be infected, as were those under the age of 45 years. Surprisingly, infection rates were significantly higher among those working in non-COVID areas (e.g. general patient care) compared to those working in areas with patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Compared with the general population in Wuhan, healthcare workers had a significantly higher infection rate (0.18% vs. 1.1%, respectively). Of the 335 randomly sampled healthcare workers only three (~1%) tested positive for an asymptomatic infection. This study not only shows that healthcare workers had a higher than average rate of infection, but also evidence for asymptomatic healthcare workers in the hospital. These asymptomatic workers may increase the risk of infection among colleagues, and these results highlight the need for broad testing in hospitals to control disease transmission.

Summary by: Jennifer Gutberg