Author(s): Ratshikhopha E., Muvhali M., Naicker N., Tlotleng N., Jassat W. and Singh T.

Source: Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 5519.

Abstract: Healthcare workers (HCWs) are among the most vulnerable in regard to contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Comorbidities are reported to increase the risk for more severe COVID-19 outcomes, often requiring hospitalization. However, the evidence on disease severity and comorbidities among South African HCWs is lacking. This retrospective study analyzed the prevalence of comorbidities among HCW hospitalized with COVID19 and its association with the severity of outcomes. Data from public and private hospitals in nine provinces of South Africa were extracted from the national hospital surveillance database for COVID19 admissions. A total of 10,149 COVID-19 HCWs admissions were reported from 5 March 2020 to 31 December 2021. The risk of disease severity among HCWs increased with age, with those older (≥60 years) having seven times the odds of disease severity (aOR 7.0; 95% CI 4.2–11.8) compared to HCWs in the younger age (20–29 years) group. The most commonly reported comorbidity was hypertension (36.3%), followed by diabetes (23.3%) and obesity (16.7%). Hypertension (aOR 1.3; 95% CI 1.0–1.6), diabetes (aOR 1.6; 95% CI 1.3–2.0), and HIV (aOR 1.6; 95% CI 1.2–2.1) were significantly associated with disease severity. In conclusion, age, gender, and existing comorbidities were strong predictors of the prognosis of severe COVID-19 among HCWs in South Africa. The information is important in the development of occupational health policies and vulnerability risk assessments for HCWs in light of future COVID-19 waves or similar outbreaks.

Keywords: coronavirus; risk factors; comorbidities; vulnerable; disease severity; health outcomes