Vanbesien, M., Molenberghs, G., Geenen, C. et al. Risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in student residences: a case-ascertained study.
Arch Public Health 80, 212 (2022)
We aimed to investigate the overall secondary attack rates (SAR) of COVID-19 in student residences and to identify risk factors for higher transmission.
We retrospectively analysed the SAR in living units of student residences which were screened in Leuven (Belgium) following the detection of a COVID-19 case. Students were followed up in the framework of a routine testing and tracing follow-up system. We considered residence outbreaks followed up between October 30th 2020 and May 25th 2021. We used generalized estimating equations (GEE) to evaluate the impact of delay to follow-up, shared kitchen or sanitary facilities, the presence of a known external infection source and the recent occurrence of a social gathering. We used a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) for validation.
We included 165 student residences, representing 200 residence units (N screened residents = 2324). Secondary transmission occurred in 68 units which corresponded to 176 secondary cases. The overall observed SAR was 8.2%. In the GEE model, shared sanitary facilities (p = 0.04) and the recent occurrence of a social gathering (p = 0.003) were associated with a significant increase in SAR in a living unit, which was estimated at 3% (95%CI 1.5-5.2) in the absence of any risk factor and 13% (95%CI 11.4-15.8) in the presence of both. The GLMM confirmed these findings.
Shared sanitary facilities and the occurrence of social gatherings increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission and should be considered when screening and implementing preventive measures.