In late March 2020, we faced a nosocomial outbreak of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at Keio University Hospital, Tokyo, Japan. Presently, COVID-19 is an unprecedented worldwide biohazard, and a nosocomial outbreak can occur in any hospital at any time. Therefore, we reviewed the literature regarding hospital preparedness, the initial management of COVID-19, and the surveillance of healthcare workers (HCWs) to find information that would be generally useful for physicians when confronted with COVID-19. In terms of hospital preparedness, each hospital should develop an incident management system and establish a designated multidisciplinary medical team. To initiate case management, COVID-19 should be suspected based on patient symptoms and/or high-risk history and then should be confirmed by viral testing, such as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis. Although some patients will become critically ill, the guidelines for respiratory failure and septic shock for non-COVID-19 cases can be followed for supportive treatment. Antiviral medications should be carefully selected because the available information is confused by the large volume of preprint literature and unreliable data. HCWs who have come into contact with patients with COVID-19 can generate new in-hospital clusters of COVID-19 cases. Quarantine following contact tracking with risk stratification is effective in preventing transmission, and the essentials of medical surveillance include monitoring different types of symptoms, delegation of supervision, and continuation of surveillance regardless of the RT-PCR results. Preparation for COVID-19 is recommended before the first COVID-19 case is encountered.
The year 2020 will be remembered for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which continues to affect the whole world. Early and accurate identification of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is fundamental to combat the disease. Among the current diagnostic tests, real-time reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is the most reliable and frequently used method. Herein, we discuss the interpretation of RT-qPCR results relative to viral infectivity. Although nasopharyngeal swab samples are often used for RT-qPCR testing, they require collection by trained medical staff. Saliva samples are emerging as an inexpensive and efficient alternative for large-scale screening. Pooled-sample testing of saliva has been applied for mass screening of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Current policies recommend isolating people with borderline cycle threshold (Ct) values (35<Ct <40), despite these Ct values indicating minimal infection risk. We propose the new concept of a “social cut-off” Ct value and risk stratification based on the correlation of Ct with infectivity. We also describe the experience of RT-qPCR screening of saliva samples at our institution. It is important to implement a scientific approach to minimize viral transmission while allowing economic and social activities to continue.
SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequencing of samples from COVID-19 patients is useful for informing infection control. Datasets of these genomes assembled from multiple hospitals can give critical clues to regional or national trends in infection. Herein, we report a lineage summary based on data collected from hospitals located in the Tokyo metropolitan area. We performed SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequencing of specimens from 198 patients with COVID-19 at 13 collaborating hospitals located in the Kanto region. Phylogenetic analysis and fingerprinting of the nucleotide substitutions were performed to differentiate and classify the viral lineages. More than 90% of the identified strains belonged to Clade 20B, which has been prevalent in European countries since March 2020. Only two lineages (B.1.1.284 and B.1.1.214) were found to be predominant in Japan. However, one sample from a COVID-19 patient admitted to a hospital in the Kanto region in November 2020 belonged to the B.1.346 lineage of Clade 20C, which has been prevalent in the western United States since November 2020. The patient had no history of overseas travel or any known contact with anyone who had travelled abroad. Consequently, the Clade 20C strain belonging to the B.1.346 lineage appeared likely to have been imported from the western United States to Japan across the strict quarantine barrier. B.1.1.284 and B.1.1.214 lineages were found to be predominant in the Kanto region, but a single case of the B.1.346 lineage of clade 20C, probably imported from the western United States, was also identified. These results illustrate that a decentralized network of hospitals offers significant advantages as a highly responsive system for monitoring regional molecular epidemiologic trends.