A COVID-19 exposure at a dental clinic where healthcare workers routinely use particulate filtering respirators
Back ground. Asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients produce a considerable amount of virus and transmit severe acute respiratory syndrome virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) through close contact. Preventing in-hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is challenging, since symptom-based screening protocols may miss asymptomatic/mildly symptomatic patients. In particular, dental health workers (HCWs) are at high risk of exposure, as face-to-face contact and exposure to oral
... xposure to oral secretions is unavoidable. We report exposure of HCWs during dental procedures on a mild symptomatic COVID-19 patient. Methods. A 32-year old male visited a dental clinic at a tertiary care hospital. He experienced mild cough, which started three days before the dental visit, but did not report his symptom during the entrance screening. He underwent several dental procedures and imaging for orthognathic surgery without wearing a mask. Seven HCWs were closely exposed to the patient during dental procedures that could have generated droplets and aerosols. One HCW had close contact with the patient during radiologic exams, and seven HCWs had casual contact. All HCWs wore particulate filtering respirators with 94% filter capacity and gloves, but none wore eye protection or gowns. The next day, the patient experienced dysgeusia and was diagnosed with COVID-19 with high viral load. Results. All HCWs who had close contact with the patient were quarantined for 14 days, and polymerase chain reaction and antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2 were negative. Conclusion. This exposure event suggests the protective effect of particulate filtering respirators in dental clinics. The appropriate personal protective equipment for routine patient care during COVID-19 pandemic should be established. The appropriate personal protective equipment for routine patient care during COVID-19 pandemic should be established.