SARS-CoV-2 infection in asymptomatic healthcare workers at a clinic in Chile

Claudio Olmos, Gonzalo Campaña, Victor Monreal, Paola Pidal, Nannet Sanchez, Constanza Airola, Dayan Sanhueza, Patricio Tapia, Ana María Muñoz, Felipe Corvalan, Sebastian Hurtado, Claudio Meneses, Ariel Orellana, Martin Montecino, Gloria Arriagada, Fernando Jose Bustos

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection of healthcare workers (HCWs) has been reported as a key player in the nosocomial spreading of COVID-19. Early detection of infected HCWs can prevent spreading of the virus in hospitals among HCWs and patients. We conducted a cross-sectional study to determine the asymptomatic infection of HCWs in a private clinic in the city of Santiago, Chile. Our study was conducted during a period of 5 weeks at the peak of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Chile. Nasopharyngeal samples were obtained from 413 HCWs and tested for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 using RT-qPCR. We found that a 3.14% of HCWs were positive for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (14/413). Out of these, 7/14 were completely asymptomatic and did not develop symptoms within 3 weeks of testing. Sequencing of viral genomes showed the predominance of the GR clade; however, sequence comparison demonstrated numerous genetic differences among them suggesting community infection as the main focus of transmission among HCWs. Our study demonstrates that the protocols applied to protect HCWs and patients have been effective as no infection clusters due to asymptomatic carriers were found in the clinic. Together, these data suggest that infection with SARS-CoV-2 among HCWs of this health center is not nosocomial.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245913
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1 January
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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