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Contributing Factors Affecting the Length of Hospital Stay among Febrile Patients with Omicron Reported in Suzhou by Li Xu, Yaoyu Ying, Jin Xie, Xinghua Shen, Fengfeng Zhu, Jun Chen, Dan Shen

Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had global attention with regard to the urgent challenging threat to global public health. Currently, the novel Omicron variant is showing rapid transmission across the world, which appears to be more contagious than the previous variants of COVID-19. Early recognition of disease is critical for patients' prognosis. Fever is the most common symptom. We evaluated the clinical characteristics of febrile patients with COVID-19 reported in Suzhou and explored the predictors for a longer duration of hospitalization in febrile patients.
Methods: This retrospective study was carried out in 146 Omicron variant infected patients confirmed by nucleic acid tests in the Affiliated Infectious Hospital of Soochow University between February 13, 2022 and March 2, 2022. Data of febrile and afebrile laboratory-confirmed patients on hospital admission in Suzhou were collected and compared. According to the median length of stay (LOS), febrile cases were divided into short and long LOS groups. Then the predictive factors for a prolonged duration of hospitalization were analyzed using logistic regression methods. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Curve analysis was used to analyze the effectiveness of the risk factors for prolonged duration of hospitalization in febrile COVID-19 patients.
Results: Of the 146 discharged patients in our study, 112 patients (76.7%) caught a fever. Compared to afebrile Omicron patients, febrile patients showed a significantly longer duration of hospitalization (15.00 (5.80) vs. 13.00 (6.00), p = 0.002). Taking the median LOS (15 days) as the dividing point, 64 febrile cases were assigned to the short LOS group and the rest to the long LOS group. The long LOS group had a longer virus shedding duration than the short LOS group (18.42 ± 2.86 vs. 11.94 ± 2.50 days, p < 0.001). Compared to short LOS febrile patients, long LOS patients were older (44.88 ± 21.36 vs. 30.89 ± 17.95 years, p < 0.001) and showed a higher proportion of greater than 60 years old (33.3% vs. 9.4%, p = 0.002; Supplemental Table S2). Febrile patients with long LOS also showed a higher proportion of hypertension (25% vs. 6.3%, p = 0.005) and higher levels of cTnI (5.00 (3.00) vs. 4.00 (2.00) µg/L, p = 0.025). The multivariate analysis indicated that virus shedding duration (OR 2.369, 95% CI 1.684 - 3.333, p < 0.001) was the independent risk factor associated with long-term hospital stay in febrile patients with Omicron. Furthermore, ROC Curve analysis revealed that the area under the curve (AUC) for virus shedding duration to diagnose prolonged duration of hospitalization in febrile COVID-19 patients was 0.951 (95% CI 0.913 - 0.989). The cutoff point was set at 14.5 days.
Conclusions: More than half of the non-severe patients exposed to the new Omicron variant had symptoms of fever. In total, 42.86% of the febrile patients were discharged within 15 days since hospital admission. Febrile Omicron cases took a longer duration of hospitalization compared to afebrile patients, and virus shedding duration (OR 2.369, 95% CI 1.684 - 3.333, p < 0.001) was probably a predictive factor for long-term hospital stays.

DOI: 10.7754/Clin.Lab.2023.231104