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ID, Isolation of SARS-CoV-2 Vital in Correctional Facilities

Serial testing is key; 25 percent of cases identified among those who had previously tested negative

woman behind a prison bars

TUESDAY, June 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Prompt identification and isolation of individuals infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is important for reducing transmission in correctional and detention facilities, according to research published in the June 29 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Henry Njuguna, M.D., from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team, and colleagues describe transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in a correctional and detention facility in Louisiana after development of symptoms on March 29, 2020, followed by detection of a positive case in a staff member. An investigation was initiated by the CDC and Louisiana Department of Health on May 7, 2020, to assess the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 among incarcerated and detained persons residing in quarantined dormitories.

Two additional cases were detected among staff members and 36 cases were identified among incarcerated and detained persons at the facility during April 2 and May 7, 2020. These persons were removed from dormitories and isolated; their five dormitories were quarantined. The researchers identified 71 cases among the 98 incarcerated and detained persons residing in the five quarantined dormitories; 32 (45 percent) were among persons with no symptoms at the time of testing, including three presymptomatic. Eighteen cases (25 percent) were identified in individuals with negative tests from previous rounds of testing.

"Serial testing, particularly in congregate settings is important for identification of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection and prompt public health response," the authors write.

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