Timely actions are needed to rapidly detect and control outbreaks in long-term care facilities

News

There are still risks for outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) in EU/EEA countries despite high vaccination rates among residents and staff, reveals a new ECDC study published in Eurosurveillance.

Although morbidity and mortality among residents dramatically declined as more people were vaccinated, outbreaks can still occur and result in high morbidity and mortality among residents.

The study analysed data from 240 outbreaks of coronavirus disease, which occurred between July and October 2021 in LTCFs with high vaccination coverage, reported by 10 EU/EEA countries. Data reveal that among 17 268 residents, there had been 3 832 (22.2%) COVID-19 reported cases, of which 17.4% were hospitalised and 10.2% died.

Timely actions to quickly detect and control outbreaks are essential and include rapid testing of all residents and staff after a positive case is detected, timely isolation of cases and ensuring strict infection prevention and control measures such as appropriate ventilation, use of face masks, adherence to hand hygiene and the availability of resources to implement these measures.

Properly designed studies are further needed to assess the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in LTCF residents and the possible role of waning immunity following vaccination in this population. In the meantime, efforts should be made to reach maximum vaccination coverage in LTCF residents and staff.

In addition, countries should continue administering a booster dose of vaccine to the most vulnerable and the elderly population to increase protection against COVID-19.