Nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 in a hematologic ward

Jiwon Jung, Jungmin Lee, Seongmin Jo, Seongman Bae, Ji Yeun Kim, Hye Hee Cha, Young Ju Lim, Sun Hee Kwak, Min Jee Hong, Eun Ok Kim, Joon Yong Bae, Changmin Kang, Minki Sung, Man Seong Park, Sung Han Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks occur in hospitals in many parts of the world. In hospital settings, the possibility of airborne transmission needs to be investigated thoroughly. Materials and Methods: There was a nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 in a hematologic ward in a tertiary hospital, Seoul, Korea. We found 11 patients and guardians with COVID-19 through vigorous contact tracing and closed-circuit television monitoring. We found one patient who probably had acquired COVID-19 through airborne-transmission. We performed airflow investigation with simulation software, whole-genome sequencing of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Results: Of the nine individuals with COVID-19 who had been in the hematologic ward, six stayed in one multi-patient room (Room 36), and other three stayed in different rooms (Room 1, 34, 35). Guardian in room 35 was close contact to cases in room 36, and patient in room 34 used the shared bathroom for teeth brushing 40 minutes after index used. Airflow simulation revealed that air was spread from the bathroom to the adjacent room 1 while patient in room 1 did not used the shared bathroom. Airflow was associated with poor ventilation in shared bathroom due to dysfunctioning air-exhaust, grill on the door of shared bathroom and the unintended negative pressure of adjacent room. Conclusion: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the hematologic ward occurred rapidly in the multi-patient room and shared bathroom settings. In addition, there was a case of possible airborne transmission due to unexpected airflow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)332-341
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Chemotherapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant no. HW20C2062) and from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT, Republic of Korea (NRF-2017M3A9E4061995).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 by The Korean Society of Infectious Diseases, Korean Society for Antimicrobial Therapy, and The Korean Society for AIDS.


  • Airborne transmission
  • COVID-19
  • Hematologic malignancy
  • Multi-patient room
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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