04.06.2021 | COVID-19 | Original articles
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Follow-up of a national web-based survey on the SARS-CoV-2 infectious state of otorhinolaryngologists in Germany
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The SARS-CoV‑2 pandemic has affected the health and practice of otorhinolaryngologists (ORLs) for over 1 year. Follow-up data of a national survey with German ORLs were evaluated regarding differences between the two waves of the pandemic.
As in the initial survey, German ORLs were addressed via e‑mail through the German Society of ORL, Head and Neck Surgery and the German ENT Association. All ORLs afflicted with SARS-CoV‑2 were invited to participate in a web-based survey. General data on infections and concomitant parameters were evaluated.
Since the start of the pandemic, 129 ORLs reported testing positive for SARS-CoV‑2 in Germany. The ORLs infected during the first wave had a relative risk (RR) of 4.07 (95% CI: 3.20; 5.19) of contracting SARS-CoV‑2. During the second wave, the RR decreased to 0.35 (95% CI: 0.28; 0.45). The availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) increased from the first to the second wave along with an increased perception of protection in the professional environment. The source of infection shifted from infections via medical staff during the first wave to patients and household exposure during the second wave. Regular medical practice was resumed by clinicians and general practitioners in the second wave. Nevertheless, a proportionally lower infection rate was observed compared with the German population as a whole.
The data reflect a unique long-term survey of ORLs during the pandemic. Differences in the source of infection were seen between the first and second wave, confirming the need for appropriate PPE for medical professionals working in high-risk environments. Further strategies to reduce the risk of infection include consistent testing for SARS-CoV‑2 in healthcare professionals, patients, and the general public as well as vaccination of high-risk medical groups.