Past Research ProjectsCase Study of the Outbreaks of COVID-19 in Japanese hospitals
This study is part of a research project called “COVID-19 Study for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Resilient Society.”
Amidst the global spread of COVID-19, which emerged at the end of 2019, hospitals are being threatened by the risk of nosocomial infections. Although various guidelines and manuals have been developed and published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and organizations specializing in infectious diseases, there is not enough information that is specifically useful in real settings.
In Japan, infection prevention and control (IPC) measures have been in place in hospitals over the past decades. Each hospital has established an infection control team, led by infectious disease specialists, and has prepared various manuals. However, the first large-scale outbreak of COVID-19 nosocomial infections in Japan occurred at a hospital in Taito Ward in Tokyo in March 2020. Once again, this case made us aware of the difficulties of ensuring 100% prevention and taking practical control measures within hospitals.
In this study, we focused on three hospitals in Taito Ward, Asahikawa City in Hokkaido, and Toda City in Saitama Prefecture—where large-scale outbreaks of nosocomial infections occurred in Japan—by using openly published information. We examined their countermeasures from three perspectives: (1) operational management, (2) identification of infection status, and (3) infection control measures. The study results suggested the importance of basic measures, including early detection of suspected cases and confirmation, carefully dealing with transmission among staff members, and conducting practical on-site training. In addition, coordination by the local health administration for external technical support and efficient use of local health resources is key.
The lessons learned from this study are expected to provide useful insights into how to enhance infectious disease control and community health systems in developing countries.