Impact of removing the healthcare mask mandate on hospital-acquired COVID-19 rates.

Publication date: Mar 01, 2024

Mandatory mask-wearing policies were one of several measures employed to reduce hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection throughout the pandemic. Many nations have removed healthcare mask mandates, but there remains a risk of new SARS-CoV-2 variants or epidemics of other respiratory viruses. To demonstrate the impact of removing the healthcare mask mandate. SARS-CoV-2 infections were analysed in a large teaching hospital for 40 weeks in 2022 using a controlled interrupted time-series design. The intervention was the removal of a staff/visitor surgical mask-wearing policy for the most wards at week 26 (intervention group) with a subset of specific wards retaining the mask policy (control group). The hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection rate was adjusted by the underlying community infection rate. In the context of a surge in SARS-CoV-2 infection, removal of the mask mandate for staff/visitors was not associated with a statistically significant change in the rate of nosocomial SARS-CoV-2 infection in the intervention group (incidence rate ratio: 1. 105; 95% confidence interval: 0. 523-2. 334; P = 0. 79) and there was no post-intervention trend (1. 013; 0. 932-1. 100; P = 0. 76) to suggest a delayed effect. The control group also showed no immediate or delayed change in infection rate. No evidence was found that removal of a staff/visitor mask-wearing policy had a significant effect on the rate of hospital-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infection. This does not demonstrate that masks were ineffective through the pandemic, but provides some objective evidence to justify the removal of healthcare mask mandates once there was widespread immunity and reduced disease severity.

Concepts Keywords
Pandemic COVID-19
Surgical Healthcare-associated infection
Viruses Interrupted time-series analysis
Mask mandate
Masks
SARS-CoV-2

Semantics

Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
pathway REACTOME SARS-CoV-2 Infection
disease VO Viruses
disease VO time
disease IDO intervention
drug DRUGBANK Etoperidone
disease MESH infection
disease VO ineffective

Original Article

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