Rapid genome sequencing and screening help hospital manage COVID-19 outbreaks


16-07-2020
  Taking a swab to test for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)  Credit: Spc. Miguel Pena

Cambridge researchers have shown how rapid genome sequencing of virus samples and enhanced testing of hospital staff can help to identify clusters of healthcare-associated COVID-19 infections.

Since the start of the UK pandemic, when the virus was spreading between people, a team of scientists and clinicians at the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) have been reading the genetic code of the virus to see if cases within the hospital are connected. This has enabled the hospital to fully investigate these outbreaks and to improve infection control measures to reduce the risk of further infections.

In addition, the introduction of a screening programme that involved repeat testing of staff, has  helped the hospital to investigate clusters of COVID-19 infections, informing infection control measures and breaking chains of transmission. This has helped reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections, ensuring maximum safety for patients and staff as the NHS aims to re-start other services.

Researchers have published details of these investigations in two peer-reviewed journals, Lancet Infectious Diseases and eLife.

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Image:  Taking a swab to test for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)

 

The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.

University of Cambridge (cam.ac.uk)