The spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) via staff work and household networks in residential aged-care services in Victoria, Australia, May-October 2020

Sheena G. Sullivan, Giovanni Radhitio P. Sadewo, Julia M. Brotherton, Claire Kaufman, Jessie J. Goldsmith, Sarah Whiting, Logan Wu, Jose T. Canevari, Dean Lusher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Objective: Morbidity and mortality from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been significant among elderly residents of residential aged-care services (RACS). To prevent incursions of COVID-19 in RACS in Australia, visitors were banned and aged-care workers were encouraged to work at a single site. We conducted a review of case notes and a social network analysis to understand how workplace and social networks enabled the spread of severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among RACS. Design: Retrospective outbreak review. Setting and participants: Staff involved in COVID-19 outbreaks in RACS in Victoria, Australia, May-October 2020. Methods: The Victorian Department of Health COVID-19 case and contact data were reviewed to construct 2 social networks: (1) a work network connecting RACS through workers and (2) a household network connecting to RACS through households. Probable index cases were reviewed to estimate the number and size (number of resident cases and deaths) of outbreaks likely initiated by multisite work versus transmission via households. Results: Among 2,033 cases linked to an outbreak as staff, 91 (4.5%) were multisite staff cases. Forty-three outbreaks were attributed to multisite work and 35 were deemed potentially preventable had staff worked at a single site. In addition, 99 staff cases were linked to another RACS outbreak through their household contacts, and 21 outbreaks were attributed to staff-household transmission. Conclusions: Limiting worker mobility through single-site policies could reduce the chances of SARS-CoV-2 spreading from one RACS to another. However, initiatives that reduce the chance of transmission via household networks would also be needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1334-1341
Number of pages8
JournalInfection Control & Hospital Epidemiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes

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