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The impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on mental health is still being unravelled. It is important to identify which individuals are at greatest risk of worsening symptoms. This study aimed to examine changes in depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms using prospective and retrospective symptom change assessments, and to find and examine the effect of key risk factors.
Online questionnaires were administered to 34 465 individuals (aged 16 years or above) in April/May 2020 in the UK, recruited from existing cohorts or via social media. Around one-third (n = 12 718) of included participants had prior diagnoses of depression or anxiety and had completed pre-pandemic mental health assessments (between September 2018 and February 2020), allowing prospective investigation of symptom change.
Prospective symptom analyses showed small decreases in depression (PHQ-9: −0.43 points) and anxiety [generalised anxiety disorder scale – 7 items (GAD)-7: −0.33 points] and increases in PTSD (PCL-6: 0.22 points). Conversely, retrospective symptom analyses demonstrated significant large increases (PHQ-9: 2.40; GAD-7 = 1.97), with 55% reported worsening mental health since the beginning of the pandemic on a global change rating. Across both prospective and retrospective measures of symptom change, worsening depression, anxiety and PTSD symptoms were associated with prior mental health diagnoses, female gender, young age and unemployed/student status.
We highlight the effect of prior mental health diagnoses on worsening mental health during the pandemic and confirm previously reported sociodemographic risk factors. Discrepancies between prospective and retrospective measures of changes in mental health may be related to recall bias-related underestimation of prior symptom severity.
To investigate a cluster of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections in employees working on 1 floor of a hospital administration building.
Contact tracing was performed to identify potential exposures and all employees were tested for SARS-CoV-2. Whole-genome sequencing was performed to determine the relatedness of SARS-CoV-2 samples from infected personnel and from control cases in the healthcare system with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during the same period. Carbon dioxide levels were measured during a workday to assess adequacy of ventilation; readings >800 parts per million (ppm) were considered an indication of suboptimal ventilation. To assess the potential for airborne transmission, DNA-barcoded aerosols were released, and real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to quantify particles recovered from air samples in multiple locations.
Between December 22, 2020, and January 8, 2021, 17 coworkers tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, including 13 symptomatic and 4 asymptomatic individuals. Of the 5 cluster SARS-CoV-2 samples sequenced, 3 were genetically related, but these employees denied higher-risk contacts with one another. None of the sequences from the cluster were genetically related to the 17 control sequences of SARS-CoV-2. Carbon dioxide levels increased during a workday but never exceeded 800 ppm. DNA-barcoded aerosol particles were dispersed from the sites of release to locations throughout the floor; 20% of air samples had >1 log10 particles.
In a hospital administration building outbreak, sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 confirmed transmission among coworkers. Transmission occurred despite the absence of higher-risk exposures and in a setting with adequate ventilation based on monitoring of carbon dioxide levels.
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