Asan Medical Center
Country: South Korea
Successful control of nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 in a pediatric ward in South Korea
Asan Medical Center experienced South Korea’s first confirmed COVID-19 case involving a pediatric inpatient. The 9-year-old patient tested positive five days after being admitted for an intracerebral hemorrhage. The positive result came after the patient previously tested negative at another hospital. Soon after, the mother of another pediatric patient who had shared a room with the index patient also tested positive for COVID-19. This nosocomial outbreak in Asan Medical Centre’s pediatric ward was immediately addressed by its SARS-CoV-2 Emergency Preparedness and Response team, which had been established as early as January 21.
Epidemiologic investigations were conducted immediately after the occurrence of the confirmed case. The affected ward was immediately closed, isolated, and disinfected. Emergency rooms, examination rooms, and auxiliary facilities were also disinfected. Close contacts were then traced through CCTV footage, and a total of 1,243 tests were performed on exposed patients, caregivers, and employees. A public-private joint epidemiological investigation team composed of government agencies, local public health centers, and city epidemiological investigators was operated to review the scope of contacts and tests, to establish plans and policy decisions for reopening wards.
The collaboration with the Public-Private Joint Epidemiological Investigation Group played a big role in reopening wards and returning staff. The infection control plan and the experience of epidemiological investigators became a role model for other hospitals in dealing with the isolation and treatment of pediatric inpatients in Korea.