Symptom based and transmission-prevention based testing in long-term care facilities: Symptomatology, clinical course and mortality for residents with COVID-19

KC Paap, AM van Loon, SM van Rijs, Esther Helmich, BM Buurman-van Es, M Smalbrugge, CMPM Hertogh

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Objectives Initially, for preventing COVID-19 transmission in long-term care facilities (LTCF) primarily rely on presence of core symptoms (fever, cough, dyspnea), but LTCF residents may also show an atypical course of a SARS-CoV-2 infection. We described the clinical presentation and course of COVID-19 in LTCF residents who were tested either because of presence of core symptoms (S-based) or because of transmission prevention (TP-based)

Design Retrospective cohort study.

Setting and participants Amsta (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), is a 1185-bed LTCF. All LTCF residents who underwent SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing between March 16, 2020 and May 31, 2020 were included (n = 380).

Measures Clinical symptoms, temperature and oxygen saturation were extracted from medical records, 7 days before testing up to 14 days after testing.

Results SARS-CoV-2 was confirmed in 81 (21%) residents. Of these 81, 36 (44%) residents were tested S-based and 45 (56%) residents were tested TP-based. Yet, CT-values did not differ between the groups. In the 7 days prior to the test the most common symptoms in both groups were: falling (32%), somnolence (25%) and fatigue (21%). Two days before the test, we observed a stronger decrease in oxygen saturation and an increase in temperature for the S-based group compared to the T-based group that remained up to 10 days after testing. Residents with in the S-based group were 2.5 times more likely to decease within 30 days than residents in the TP-based group (HR, 2.56; 95% 1.3 to 5.2). Even though, 73% of the T-based group did eventually developed core symptoms.

Conclusion and implications Many LTCF residents with a positive PCR did not have core symptoms when tested but had other signs/symptoms in the week before the positive test. Testing policies should therefore be adjusted to prevent transmission. Daily measures of temperature and oxygen saturation can contribute to earlier detection.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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