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#COVID19 Journal Club: “Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea”

Figure 2 from the paper

This one only marginally qualifies under Microbiology of the Built Environment since it’s almost purely an epidemiology study and only touches on the issues of occupant density and movement in the building.  The study is “Coronavirus Disease Outbreak in Call Center, South Korea“. But it’s pretty clear in this paper how much close contact matters, virtually all the people infected worked on the same floor in an open office plan.  Abstract below:

We describe the epidemiology of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in a call center in South Korea. We obtained information on demographic characteristics by using standardized epidemiologic investigation forms. We performed descriptive analyses and reported the results as frequencies and proportions for categoric variables. Of 1,143 persons who were tested for COVID-19, a total of 97 (8.5%, 95% CI 7.0%–10.3%) had confirmed cases. Of these, 94 were working in an 11th-floor call center with 216 employees, translating to an attack rate of 43.5% (95% CI 36.9%–50.4%). The household secondary attack rate among symptomatic case-patients was 16.2% (95% CI 11.6%– 22.0%). Of the 97 persons with confirmed COVID-19, only 4 (1.9%) remained asymptomatic within 14 days of quarantine, and none of their household contacts acquired secondary infections. Extensive contact tracing, testing all contacts, and early quarantine blocked further transmission and might be effective for containing rapid outbreaks in crowded work settings.


David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

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