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BackgroundEvidence-based Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures are critical in protecting medical doctors from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Concerns surrounding access to personal protective equipment (PPE), compliance with IPC measures and the quality of available PPE have been raised as possible causes for high rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection in medical doctors in high transmission settings. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the risk factors for occupational infection in doctors in the hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB).MethodsWe conducted a cross-sectional study wherein we electronically surveyed medical doctors in public-sector NMB hospitals from 01 March 2020 to 31 December 2020. We collected demographic, health, occupational and SARS-CoV-2 infection and exposure data. Categorical data were described as proportions and a multiple variable logistic regression model was used to identify risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection.ResultsThe survey was distributed amongst 498 doctors, 141 (28%) of whom replied. Forty-three (31%) participants reported that they had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the study period. Eighty-nine participants (64%) reported inadequate access to PPE whilst only 68 (49%) participants adhered to PPE recommendations when interacting with patients with confirmed or suspected SARS-CoV-2 infection. We were unable to identify any significant predictors of SARS-CoV-2 infection.ConclusionThis study demonstrates a high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in public hospital doctors in NMB. Most participants reported inadequate access to PPE and poor compliance with IPC protocols. These findings suggest an urgent need for the improved implementation of IPC measures to protect doctors from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Original publication





Southern African journal of infectious diseases

Publication Date





Department of Medicine, Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex, Gqeberha, South Africa.