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      COVID-19 stressors on migrant workers in Kuwait: cumulative risk considerations


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          As a marginalised subpopulation, migrant workers often fall short from protection by public policies, they take precarious jobs with unsafe working and living conditions and they grapple with cultural and linguistic barriers. In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, migrant workers are now exposed to additional stressors of the virus and related responses. We applied a comprehensive qualitative cumulative risk assessment framework for migrant workers living in Kuwait. This pandemic could be one of the few examples where the stressors overlap all domains of migrant workers’ lives. No single intervention can solve all the problems; there must be a set of interventions to address all domains. Local authorities and employers must act quickly to stop the spread, ensure easy access to testing and treatment, provide adequate housing and clear communication, encourage wide social support, safeguard financial protection and mental well-being and continuously re-evaluate the situation as more data are collected.

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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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            Aerodynamic analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in two Wuhan hospitals

            The ongoing outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread rapidly on a global scale. Although it is clear that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted through human respiratory droplets and direct contact, the potential for aerosol transmission is poorly understood1-3. Here we investigated the aerodynamic nature of SARS-CoV-2 by measuring viral RNA in aerosols in different areas of two Wuhan hospitals during the outbreak of COVID-19 in February and March 2020. The concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in aerosols that was detected in isolation wards and ventilated patient rooms was very low, but it was higher in the toilet areas used by the patients. Levels of airborne SARS-CoV-2 RNA in the most public areas was undetectable, except in two areas that were prone to crowding; this increase was possibly due to individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the crowd. We found that some medical staff areas initially had high concentrations of viral RNA with aerosol size distributions that showed peaks in the submicrometre and/or supermicrometre regions; however, these levels were reduced to undetectable levels after implementation of rigorous sanitization procedures. Although we have not established the infectivity of the virus detected in these hospital areas, we propose that SARS-CoV-2 may have the potential to be transmitted through aerosols. Our results indicate that room ventilation, open space, sanitization of protective apparel, and proper use and disinfection of toilet areas can effectively limit the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in aerosols. Future work should explore the infectivity of aerosolized virus.
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              Is Open Access

              COVID-19 and smoking: A systematic review of the evidence

              COVID-19 is a coronavirus outbreak that initially appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019, but it has already evolved into a pandemic spreading rapidly worldwide 1,2 . As of 18 March 2020, a total number of 194909 cases of COVID-19 have been reported, including 7876 deaths, the majority of which have been reported in China (3242) and Italy (2505) 3 . However, as the pandemic is still unfortunately under progression, there are limited data with regard to the clinical characteristics of the patients as well as to their prognostic factors 4 . Smoking, to date, has been assumed to be possibly associated with adverse disease prognosis, as extensive evidence has highlighted the negative impact of tobacco use on lung health and its causal association with a plethora of respiratory diseases 5 . Smoking is also detrimental to the immune system and its responsiveness to infections, making smokers more vulnerable to infectious diseases 6 . Previous studies have shown that smokers are twice more likely than non-smokers to contract influenza and have more severe symptoms, while smokers were also noted to have higher mortality in the previous MERS-CoV outbreak 7,8 . Given the gap in the evidence, we conducted a systematic review of studies on COVID-19 that included information on patients’ smoking status to evaluate the association between smoking and COVID-19 outcomes including the severity of the disease, the need for mechanical ventilation, the need for intensive care unit (ICU) hospitalization and death. The literature search was conducted on 17 March 2020, using two databases (PubMed, ScienceDirect), with the search terms: [‘smoking’ OR ‘tobacco’ OR ‘risk factors’ OR ‘smoker*’] AND [‘COVID-19’ OR ‘COVID 19’ OR ‘novel coronavirus’ OR ‘sars cov-2’ OR ‘sars cov 2’] and included studies published in 2019 and 2020. Further inclusion criteria were that the studies were in English and referred to humans. We also searched the reference lists of the studies included. A total of 71 studies were retrieved through the search, of which 66 were excluded after full-text screening, leaving five studies that were included. All of the studies were conducted in China, four in Wuhan and one across provinces in mainland China. The populations in all studies were patients with COVID-19, and the sample size ranged from 41 to 1099 patients. With regard to the study design, retrospective and prospective methods were used, and the timeframe of all five studies covered the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic (December 2019, January 2020). Specifically, Zhou et al. 9 studied the epidemiological characteristics of 191 individuals infected with COVID-19, without, however, reporting in more detail the mortality risk factors and the clinical outcomes of the disease. Among the 191 patients, there were 54 deaths, while 137 survived. Among those that died, 9% were current smokers compared to 4% among those that survived, with no statistically significant difference between the smoking rates of survivors and non-survivors (p=0.21) with regard to mortality from COVID-19. Similarly, Zhang et al. 10 presented clinical characteristics of 140 patients with COVID-19. The results showed that among severe patients (n=58), 3.4% were current smokers and 6.9% were former smokers, in contrast to non-severe patients (n=82) among which 0% were current smokers and 3.7% were former smokers , leading to an OR of 2.23; (95% CI: 0.65–7.63; p=0.2). Huang et al. 11 studied the epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19 among 41 patients. In this study, none of those who needed to be admitted to an ICU (n=13) was a current smoker. In contrast, three patients from the non-ICU group were current smokers, with no statistically significant difference between the two groups of patients (p=0.31), albeit the small sample size of the study. The largest study population of 1099 patients with COVID-19 was provided by Guan et al. 12 from multiple regions of mainland China. Descriptive results on the smoking status of patients were provided for the 1099 patients, of which 173 had severe symptoms, and 926 had non-severe symptoms. Among the patients with severe symptoms, 16.9% were current smokers and 5.2% were former smokers, in contrast to patients with non-severe symptoms where 11.8% were current smokers and 1.3% were former smokers. Additionally, in the group of patients that either needed mechanical ventilation, admission to an ICU or died, 25.5% were current smokers and 7.6% were former smokers. In contrast, in the group of patients that did not have these adverse outcomes, only 11.8% were current smokers and 1.6% were former smokers. No statistical analysis for evaluating the association between the severity of the disease outcome and smoking status was conducted in that study. Finally, Liu et al. 13 found among their population of 78 patients with COVID-19 that the adverse outcome group had a significantly higher proportion of patients with a history of smoking (27.3%) than the group that showed improvement or stabilization (3.0%), with this difference statistically significant at the p=0.018 level. In their multivariate logistic regression analysis, the history of smoking was a risk factor of disease progression (OR=14.28; 95% CI: 1.58–25.00; p= 0.018). We identified five studies that reported data on the smoking status of patients infected with COVID-19. Notably, in the largest study that assessed severity, there were higher percentages of current and former smokers among patients that needed ICU support, mechanical ventilation or who had died, and a higher percentage of smokers among the severe cases 12 . However, from their published data we can calculate that the smokers were 1.4 times more likely (RR=1.4, 95% CI: 0.98–2.00) to have severe symptoms of COVID-19 and approximately 2.4 times more likely to be admitted to an ICU, need mechanical ventilation or die compared to non-smokers (RR=2.4, 95% CI: 1.43–4.04). In conclusion, although further research is warranted as the weight of the evidence increases, with the limited available data, and although the above results are unadjusted for other factors that may impact disease progression, smoking is most likely associated with the negative progression and adverse outcomes of COVID-19. Table 1 Overview of the five studies included in the systematic review Title Setting Population Study design and time horizon Outcomes Smoking rates by outcome Zhou et al. 9 (2020)Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study Jinyintan Hospital and Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital, Wuhan, China All adult inpatients (aged ≥18 years) with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 (191 patients) Retrospective multicenter cohort study until 31 January 2020 Mortality 54 patients died during hospitalisation and 137 were discharged Current smokers: n=11 (6%)Non-survivors: n=5 (9%)Survivors: n=6 (4%)(p=0.20) Current smoker vs non-smokerUnivariate logistic regression(OR=2.23; 95% CI: 0.65–7.63; p=0.2) Zhang et al. 10 (2020)Clinical characteristics of 140 patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China No. 7 Hospital of Wuhan, China All hospitalised patients clinically diagnosed as ‘viral pneumonia’ based on their clinical symptoms with typical changes in chest radiology (140 patients) Retrospective 16 January to 3 February 2020 Disease Severity Non-severepatients: n=82Severe patients:n=58 Disease Severity Former smokers: n=7Severe: n=4 (6.9%)Non-severe: n=3 (3.7%) (p= 0.448) Current smokers: n=2Severe: n=2 (3.4%)Non-severe: n=0 (0%) Guan et al. 12 (2019)Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China 552 hospitals in 30 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in mainland China Patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 (1099 patients) Retrospective until 29 January 2020 Severity and admission to an ICU, the use of mechanical ventilation, or death Non-severe patients: n=926 Severe patients: n=173 By severity Severe cases16.9% current smokers5.2% former smokers77.9% never smokers Non-severe cases11.8% current smokers1.3% former smokers86.9% never smokers By mechanical ventilation, ICU or death Needed mechanical ventilation, ICU or died25.8% current smokers7.6% former smokers66.7% non-smokers No mechanical ventilation, ICU or death11.8% current smokers1.6% former smokers86.7% never smokers Huang et al. 11 (2020)Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China A hospital in Wuhan, China Laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV patients in Wuhan (41 patients) Prospective from 16 December 2019 to 2 January 2020 Mortality As of 22 January 2020, 28 (68%) of 41 patients were discharged and 6 (15%) patients died Current smokers: n=3ICU care: n=0Non-ICU care: n=3 (11%) Current smokers in ICU care vs non-ICU care patients (p=0.31) Liu et al. 13 (2019)Analysis of factors associated with disease outcomes in hospitalised patients with 2019 novel coronavirus disease Three tertiary hospitals in Wuhan, China Patients tested positive for COVID-19 (78 patients) Retrospective multicentre cohort study from 30 December 2019 to 15 January 2020 Disease progression 11 patients (14.1%) in the progression group 67 patients (85.9%) in the improvement/stabilization group 2 deaths Negative progression group: 27.3% smokersIn the improvement group: 3% smokers The negative progression group had a significantly higher proportion of patients with a history of smoking than the improvement/stabilisation group (27.3% vs 3.0%)Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that the history of smoking was a risk factor of disease progression (OR=14.28; 95% CI: 1.58–25.00; p= 0.018)

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                BMJ Glob Health
                BMJ Glob Health
                BMJ Global Health
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                8 July 2020
                8 July 2020
                : 5
                : 7
                : e002995
                [1 ]departmentEnvironmental Health Department , Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University , Boston, Massachusetts, United States
                [2 ]departmentDepartment of Environmental and Occupational Health , Faculty of Public Health, Kuwait University , Hawalli, Kuwait
                [3 ]departmentDepartment of Environmental Health and Engineering and Johns Hopkins Education and Research Center for Occupational Safety and Health , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health , Baltimore, Maryland, United States
                [4 ]departmentDepartment of Health Policy and Management and Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health , Baltimore, Maryland, United States
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                [Correspondence to ] Dr Barrak Alahmad; b.alahmad@ 123456g.harvard.edu
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                public health, environmental health, health policy


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