A masked female nurse talks to a male coworker

A testing and mask protocol that rapidly stopped the spread of COVID-19 at a single hospital during the omicron surge may be a useful model for other facilities to emulate, researchers say.

In early January 2022, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston confronted an increase in hospital-onset infections and SARS-CoV-2 infection clusters in two hospital units.

The first cluster involved three infected patients in one hospital unit. The second cluster occurred in a surgical unit where tests identified seven COVID-19-positive patients.

​​Preceding each COVID-19 cluster the week before were positive tests among many unit staff members, and one infected patient was exposed to an infected visitor, according to a report on the study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

Daily testing and universal source control using N95 respirators was quickly implemented and swiftly contained the spread in each case, investigators said.

No more infections among patients or staff were detected in these units within the next 10 days, even as 16 additional hospital-based infections were detected elsewhere in the hospital, CIDRAP reported. 

This containment was swift when compared to previous reports of hospital-based SARS-CoV-2 clusters, the investigators said. The short incubation period of the omicron variant may have aided the quick infection containment, they noted.

Full findings were published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.