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      The role of community-wide wearing of face mask for control of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) epidemic due to SARS-CoV-2

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          Abstract

          Background

          Face mask usage by the healthy population in the community to reduce risk of transmission of respiratory viruses remains controversial. We assessed the effect of community-wide mask usage to control coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

          Methods

          Patients presenting with respiratory symptoms at outpatient clinics or hospital wards were screened for COVID-19 per protocol. Epidemiological analysis was performed for confirmed cases, especially persons acquiring COVID-19 during mask-off and mask-on settings. The incidence of COVID-19 per-million-population in HKSAR with community-wide masking was compared to that of non-mask-wearing countries which are comparable with HKSAR in terms of population density, healthcare system, BCG vaccination and social distancing measures but not community-wide masking. Compliance of face mask usage in the HKSAR community was monitored.

          Findings

          Within first 100 days (31 December 2019 to 8 April 2020), 961 COVID-19 patients were diagnosed in HKSAR. The COVID-19 incidence in HKSAR (129.0 per-million-population) was significantly lower (p<0.001) than that of Spain (2983.2), Italy (2250.8), Germany (1241.5), France (1151.6), U.S. (1102.8), U.K. (831.5), Singapore (259.8), and South Korea (200.5). The compliance of face mask usage by HKSAR general public was 96.6% (range: 95.7% to 97.2%). We observed 11 COVID-19 clusters in recreational ‘mask-off’ settings compared to only 3 in workplace ‘mask-on’ settings (p = 0.036 by Chi square test of goodness-of-fit).

          Conclusion

          Community-wide mask wearing may contribute to the control of COVID-19 by reducing virus shedding in saliva and respiratory droplets from individuals with subclinical or mild COVID-19.

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          Most cited references 22

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          A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster

          Summary Background An ongoing outbreak of pneumonia associated with a novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan city, Hubei province, China. Affected patients were geographically linked with a local wet market as a potential source. No data on person-to-person or nosocomial transmission have been published to date. Methods In this study, we report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, radiological, and microbiological findings of five patients in a family cluster who presented with unexplained pneumonia after returning to Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China, after a visit to Wuhan, and an additional family member who did not travel to Wuhan. Phylogenetic analysis of genetic sequences from these patients were done. Findings From Jan 10, 2020, we enrolled a family of six patients who travelled to Wuhan from Shenzhen between Dec 29, 2019 and Jan 4, 2020. Of six family members who travelled to Wuhan, five were identified as infected with the novel coronavirus. Additionally, one family member, who did not travel to Wuhan, became infected with the virus after several days of contact with four of the family members. None of the family members had contacts with Wuhan markets or animals, although two had visited a Wuhan hospital. Five family members (aged 36–66 years) presented with fever, upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms, or diarrhoea, or a combination of these 3–6 days after exposure. They presented to our hospital (The University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital, Shenzhen) 6–10 days after symptom onset. They and one asymptomatic child (aged 10 years) had radiological ground-glass lung opacities. Older patients (aged >60 years) had more systemic symptoms, extensive radiological ground-glass lung changes, lymphopenia, thrombocytopenia, and increased C-reactive protein and lactate dehydrogenase levels. The nasopharyngeal or throat swabs of these six patients were negative for known respiratory microbes by point-of-care multiplex RT-PCR, but five patients (four adults and the child) were RT-PCR positive for genes encoding the internal RNA-dependent RNA polymerase and surface Spike protein of this novel coronavirus, which were confirmed by Sanger sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis of these five patients' RT-PCR amplicons and two full genomes by next-generation sequencing showed that this is a novel coronavirus, which is closest to the bat severe acute respiatory syndrome (SARS)-related coronaviruses found in Chinese horseshoe bats. Interpretation Our findings are consistent with person-to-person transmission of this novel coronavirus in hospital and family settings, and the reports of infected travellers in other geographical regions. Funding The Shaw Foundation Hong Kong, Michael Seak-Kan Tong, Respiratory Viral Research Foundation Limited, Hui Ming, Hui Hoy and Chow Sin Lan Charity Fund Limited, Marina Man-Wai Lee, the Hong Kong Hainan Commercial Association South China Microbiology Research Fund, Sanming Project of Medicine (Shenzhen), and High Level-Hospital Program (Guangdong Health Commission).
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            SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load in Upper Respiratory Specimens of Infected Patients

            To the Editor: The 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic, which was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization, may progress to a pandemic associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. SARS-CoV-2 is genetically related to SARS-CoV, which caused a global epidemic with 8096 confirmed cases in more than 25 countries in 2002–2003. 1 The epidemic of SARS-CoV was successfully contained through public health interventions, including case detection and isolation. Transmission of SARS-CoV occurred mainly after days of illness 2 and was associated with modest viral loads in the respiratory tract early in the illness, with viral loads peaking approximately 10 days after symptom onset. 3 We monitored SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in upper respiratory specimens obtained from 18 patients (9 men and 9 women; median age, 59 years; range, 26 to 76) in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, including 4 patients with secondary infections (1 of whom never had symptoms) within two family clusters (Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). The patient who never had symptoms was a close contact of a patient with a known case and was therefore monitored. A total of 72 nasal swabs (sampled from the mid-turbinate and nasopharynx) (Figure 1A) and 72 throat swabs (Figure 1B) were analyzed, with 1 to 9 sequential samples obtained from each patient. Polyester flock swabs were used for all the patients. From January 7 through January 26, 2020, a total of 14 patients who had recently returned from Wuhan and had fever (≥37.3°C) received a diagnosis of Covid-19 (the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2) by means of reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction assay with primers and probes targeting the N and Orf1b genes of SARS-CoV-2; the assay was developed by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Samples were tested at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirteen of 14 patients with imported cases had evidence of pneumonia on computed tomography (CT). None of them had visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan within 14 days before symptom onset. Patients E, I, and P required admission to intensive care units, whereas the others had mild-to-moderate illness. Secondary infections were detected in close contacts of Patients E, I, and P. Patient E worked in Wuhan and visited his wife (Patient L), mother (Patient D), and a friend (Patient Z) in Zhuhai on January 17. Symptoms developed in Patients L and D on January 20 and January 22, respectively, with viral RNA detected in their nasal and throat swabs soon after symptom onset. Patient Z reported no clinical symptoms, but his nasal swabs (cycle threshold [Ct] values, 22 to 28) and throat swabs (Ct values, 30 to 32) tested positive on days 7, 10, and 11 after contact. A CT scan of Patient Z that was obtained on February 6 was unremarkable. Patients I and P lived in Wuhan and visited their daughter (Patient H) in Zhuhai on January 11 when their symptoms first developed. Fever developed in Patient H on January 17, with viral RNA detected in nasal and throat swabs on day 1 after symptom onset. We analyzed the viral load in nasal and throat swabs obtained from the 17 symptomatic patients in relation to day of onset of any symptoms (Figure 1C). Higher viral loads (inversely related to Ct value) were detected soon after symptom onset, with higher viral loads detected in the nose than in the throat. Our analysis suggests that the viral nucleic acid shedding pattern of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 resembles that of patients with influenza 4 and appears different from that seen in patients infected with SARS-CoV. 3 The viral load that was detected in the asymptomatic patient was similar to that in the symptomatic patients, which suggests the transmission potential of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic patients. These findings are in concordance with reports that transmission may occur early in the course of infection 5 and suggest that case detection and isolation may require strategies different from those required for the control of SARS-CoV. How SARS-CoV-2 viral load correlates with culturable virus needs to be determined. Identification of patients with few or no symptoms and with modest levels of detectable viral RNA in the oropharynx for at least 5 days suggests that we need better data to determine transmission dynamics and inform our screening practices.
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              Temporal profiles of viral load in posterior oropharyngeal saliva samples and serum antibody responses during infection by SARS-CoV-2: an observational cohort study

              Summary Background Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) causes severe community and nosocomial outbreaks. Comprehensive data for serial respiratory viral load and serum antibody responses from patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are not yet available. Nasopharyngeal and throat swabs are usually obtained for serial viral load monitoring of respiratory infections but gathering these specimens can cause discomfort for patients and put health-care workers at risk. We aimed to ascertain the serial respiratory viral load of SARS-CoV-2 in posterior oropharyngeal (deep throat) saliva samples from patients with COVID-19, and serum antibody responses. Methods We did a cohort study at two hospitals in Hong Kong. We included patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. We obtained samples of blood, urine, posterior oropharyngeal saliva, and rectal swabs. Serial viral load was ascertained by reverse transcriptase quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). Antibody levels against the SARS-CoV-2 internal nucleoprotein (NP) and surface spike protein receptor binding domain (RBD) were measured using EIA. Whole-genome sequencing was done to identify possible mutations arising during infection. Findings Between Jan 22, 2020, and Feb 12, 2020, 30 patients were screened for inclusion, of whom 23 were included (median age 62 years [range 37–75]). The median viral load in posterior oropharyngeal saliva or other respiratory specimens at presentation was 5·2 log10 copies per mL (IQR 4·1–7·0). Salivary viral load was highest during the first week after symptom onset and subsequently declined with time (slope −0·15, 95% CI −0·19 to −0·11; R 2=0·71). In one patient, viral RNA was detected 25 days after symptom onset. Older age was correlated with higher viral load (Spearman's ρ=0·48, 95% CI 0·074–0·75; p=0·020). For 16 patients with serum samples available 14 days or longer after symptom onset, rates of seropositivity were 94% for anti-NP IgG (n=15), 88% for anti-NP IgM (n=14), 100% for anti-RBD IgG (n=16), and 94% for anti-RBD IgM (n=15). Anti-SARS-CoV-2-NP or anti-SARS-CoV-2-RBD IgG levels correlated with virus neutralisation titre (R 2>0·9). No genome mutations were detected on serial samples. Interpretation Posterior oropharyngeal saliva samples are a non-invasive specimen more acceptable to patients and health-care workers. Unlike severe acute respiratory syndrome, patients with COVID-19 had the highest viral load near presentation, which could account for the fast-spreading nature of this epidemic. This finding emphasises the importance of stringent infection control and early use of potent antiviral agents, alone or in combination, for high-risk individuals. Serological assay can complement RT-qPCR for diagnosis. Funding Richard and Carol Yu, May Tam Mak Mei Yin, The Shaw Foundation Hong Kong, Michael Tong, Marina Lee, Government Consultancy Service, and Sanming Project of Medicine.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Infect
                J. Infect
                The Journal of Infection
                The British Infection Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
                0163-4453
                1532-2742
                23 April 2020
                23 April 2020
                Affiliations
                [a ]Department of Microbiology, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [b ]Infection Control Team, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong West Cluster, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [c ]Quality & Safety Division (Infection, Emergency, and Contingency), Hospital Authority, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [d ]Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                [e ]Department of Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Kwok-Yung Yuen, Department of Microbiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China. Tel.: +852-22552379; Fax: +852-28724555. kyyuen@ 123456hku.hk
                Article
                S0163-4453(20)30235-8
                10.1016/j.jinf.2020.04.024
                7177146
                2a9ced2f-052b-453f-bb82-2fc1ca80c157
                © 2020 The British Infection Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

                Categories
                Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology

                face mask, community, coronavirus, covid-19, sars-cov-2, epidemic

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