National Weekly SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Screening of All Workers in Long-Term Care Facilities Associated with Decrease in Resident Mortality Rate

Yasmeen Abu-Fraiha, Shahar Geva Robinson, Michal Maimon, Lior Hassan, Itamar Grotto, Limor Gortzak Uzan, Sivan Goldin, Victor Novack, Nimrod Maimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) have resulted mainly from disease transmission by asymptomatic health care workers. This study examines whether routine screening tests carried out on health care workers can help in reducing COVID-19 outbreaks, morbidity, and mortality of LTCF residents. METHODS: The study followed a weekly, nationwide, government-funded screening program of LTCF personnel for SARS-CoV-2, by using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction as the main testing technology. It included all residents and employees in Israeli LTCFs who were screened weekly during the second wave of COVID-19, during the period of time between July 13, 2020, and November 21, 2020. RESULTS: During the study period, 1,107 LTCFs were screened on a weekly basis, including 62,159 HCWs and 100,046 residents. The program screened a median of 55,282 (range 16,249, min 45,910, max 62,159) employees per week, 0.05-1.5% of which were positive for SARS-CoV-2. LTCF mortality in the first wave accounted for 45.3% of all COVID-19 deaths recorded nationally (252 of 556), and in the second wave, this ratio was reduced to 30.3% (709 of 2,337) representing a reduction of 33.8% in expected mortality (p < 0.001). A significant reduction was detected also in hospitalization rate (13.59 vs. 11.41%, p < 0.001) and elder (≥75 years old) mortality rate (52.89 vs. 41.42%, p < 0.001). 214 outbreaks in the second wave were avoided by early identification of SARS-CoV-2 positive HCWs and successful prevention of subsequent infections in the facility. CONCLUSION: Routine weekly SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR testing of LTCF employees was associated with reduced national LTCF residents' hospitalizations and mortality rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-548
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - 9 May 2023


  • Health care workers
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Mortality
  • SARS-CoV-2 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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