Observational Study
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2023. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Virol. Mar 25, 2023; 12(2): 122-131
Published online Mar 25, 2023. doi: 10.5501/wjv.v12.i2.122
Demographic and risk characteristics of healthcare workers infected with SARS-CoV-2 from two tertiary care hospitals in the United Arab Emirates
Prashant Nasa, Payal Modi, Gladys Setubal, Aswini Puspha, Surjya Upadhyay, Syed Habib Talal
Prashant Nasa, Syed Habib Talal, Critical Care Medicine, NMC Specialty Hospital, Dubai 7832, United Arab Emirates
Prashant Nasa, Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Al Ain 15551, United Arab Emirates
Payal Modi, Department of Microbiology, NMC Royal Hospital, Dubai Investment Park, Dubai 7832, United Arab Emirates
Gladys Setubal, Prevention and Control of Infection, NMC Specialty Hospital, Dubai 7832, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Aswini Puspha, Prevention and Control of Infection, NMC Royal Hospital, Dubai Investment Park, Dubai 7832, United Arab Emirates
Surjya Upadhyay, Department of Anaesthesiology, NMC Royal Hospital, Dubai Investment Park, Dubai 7832, United Arab Emirates
Author contributions: Nasa P, Modi P, Sebutel G, Upadhyay S participated in the acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of the data; Nasa P drafted the initial manuscript; Syed T, Modi P, Sebutel G, Puspha A, Upadhyay S revised the article critically for important intellectual content.
Institutional review board statement: The study was approved by the scientific and ethical committee of the NMC Healthcare and the Dubai Scientific Research Ethics Committee (Approval No. DSREC/09/2020_32).
Informed consent statement: All involved participants of the cross-sectional survey gave their informed consent (written) prior to study inclusion.
Conflict-of-interest statement: There are no conflicts of interest to report.
Data sharing statement: No additional data are available.
STROBE statement: The authors have read the STROBE Statement—checklist of items, and the manuscript was prepared and revised according to the STROBE Statement—checklist of items.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: https://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Prashant Nasa, MD, Chief Doctor, Critical Care Medicine, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda 2, Amman Street, Dubai 7832, United Arab Emirates. dr.prashantnasa@hotmail.com
Received: January 4, 2023
Peer-review started: January 4, 2023
First decision: January 17, 2023
Revised: January 23, 2023
Accepted: February 22, 2023
Article in press: February 22, 2023
Published online: March 25, 2023

Understanding the transmission dynamics of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among healthcare workers (HCWs) and their social contacts is crucial to plan appropriate risk-reduction measures.


To analyze the socio-demographic risk factors and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection among HCWs in two tertiary care hospitals in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.


The demographic and clinical characteristics were available for all HCWs in both facilities from the human resources department. A cross-sectional survey was conducted from January-April 2022 among HCWs who tested positive through Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction of the nasopharyngeal swab for SARS-CoV-2 between March 2020 and August 2021 in two tertiary-level hospitals. The survey included questions on demographics, work profile, characteristics of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and infection among their household or co-workers. The survey also checked the knowledge and perception of participants on the infection prevention measures related to SARS-CoV-2.


Out of a total of 346 HCWs infected with SARS-CoV-2, 286 (82.7%) HCWs consented to participate in this study. From the sample population, 150 (52.5%) of participants were female, and a majority (230, 80.4%) were frontline HCWs, including 121 nurses (121, 42.4%). Only 48 (16.8%) participants were fully vaccinated at the time of infection. Most infected HCWs (85%) were unaware of any unprotected exposure and were symptomatic at the time of testing (225, 78.7%). Nearly half of the participants (140, 49%) had co-infection among household, and nearly one-third (29.5%) had co-infection among three or more household. Another 108 (37.8%) participants reported cross-infection among co-workers. The frontline HCWs were significantly more infected (25.1% vs 8.6%, P < 0.001) compared to non-frontline HCWs. Another significant risk factor for a high infection rate was male sex (P < 0.001). Among the infected frontline HCWs, a significantly higher proportion were male and shared accommodation with family (P < 0.001). COVID-19 vaccination significantly reduced the infection rate (83.2% vs 16.8, P < 0.001) among HCWs. Most participants (99.3%) were aware about importance of appropriate use of personal protective equipment. However, only 70% agreed with the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccination in preventing an infection and severe disease.


The risk profiling of the HCWs infected with SARS-CoV-2 found that working at frontline and being male increase the rate of infection. COVID-19 vaccination can effectively reduce the rate of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among HCWs.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019, Risk factors, Disease transmission, infectious, Infectious disease transmission, Professional-to-patient, Health personnel, Socioeconomic factors

Core Tip: The healthcare workers (HCWs) are vulnerable to infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In the current study, the authors found that the frontline and male HCWs were at higher risk of infection. Among the infected frontline HCWs, a significantly higher proportion were male and staying in a rented accommodation with family. The coronavirus disease 2019 vaccination is effective in preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among HCWs. This information can be utilised for the healthcare workforce management and to formulate strategies to mitigate the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to the HCWs.