Background: As an emerging infectious disease, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) exhibits occult infection, which might cause difficulties in controlling disease spread. The possibility of aerosol transmission in a relatively closed environment contributes to the high infectivity of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in hospitals. This study presents an environmental surveillance system for SARS-CoV-2 that is suitable for a clinical laboratory and may also lead to further assessment of infection prevention programs in different departments in hospitals.
Methods: The study was performed in a SARS-CoV-2 RNA laboratory involved in the diagnosis of COVID-19 in China. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays were used to detect viral pathogens. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for monitoring infectious pathogens were developed in this study.
Results: In total, more than 180 air and surface samples were tested for SARS-CoV-2 to determine whether the virus was present at the airborne and particle level. The employed molecular method effectively identified environmental contamination.
Conclusions: Our study suggests that regular environmental surveillance is critical in a clinical PCR laboratory. The presented strategy could also be used for monitoring and surveillance in negative pressure wards and clinics in hospitals to prevent hospital-acquired infections.