Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

COVID-19 in a Rural Community: Outbreak Dynamics, Contact Tracing and Environmental RNA

Version 1 : Received: 26 May 2020 / Approved: 27 May 2020 / Online: 27 May 2020 (09:05:14 CEST)

How to cite: Fernández de Mera, I.G.; Rodríguez del Río, F.J.; de la Fuente, J.; Pérez Sancho, M.; Hervas, D.; Moreno, I.; Dominguez, M.; Domínguez, L.; Gortázar, C. COVID-19 in a Rural Community: Outbreak Dynamics, Contact Tracing and Environmental RNA. Preprints 2020, 2020050450 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202005.0450.v1). Fernández de Mera, I.G.; Rodríguez del Río, F.J.; de la Fuente, J.; Pérez Sancho, M.; Hervas, D.; Moreno, I.; Dominguez, M.; Domínguez, L.; Gortázar, C. COVID-19 in a Rural Community: Outbreak Dynamics, Contact Tracing and Environmental RNA. Preprints 2020, 2020050450 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202005.0450.v1).

Abstract

Background: Since March 2020, Spain is severely hit by the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Understanding and disrupting the early transmission dynamics of the infection is crucial for impeding sustained transmission. Methods: We recorded all COVID-19 cases and traced their contacts in an isolated rural community. We also sampled 10 households, 6 public service sites and the wastewater from the village sewage for environmental SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Results: The first village patient diagnosed with COVID-19-compatible symptoms occurred on March 3, 2020, twelve days before lockdown. A peak of 39 cases occurred on March 30. By May 15, the accumulated number of symptomatic cases was 53 (6% of the population), of which only 22 (41%) had been tested and confirmed by RT-PCR as SARS-CoV-2 infected, including 16 hospitalized patients. Contacts (n=144) were six times more likely to develop symptoms. Environmental sampling detected SARS-CoV-2 RNA in two households with known active cases and in two public service sites: the petrol station and the pharmacy. Samples from other sites and the wastewater tested negative. Conclusions: The low proportion of patients tested by RT-PCR calls for urgent changes in disease management. We propose that early testing of all cases and their close contacts would reduce infection spread, reducing the disease burden and fatalities. In a context of restricted testing, environmental RNA surveillance might prove useful for early warning and to identify high-risk settings enabling a targeted resource deployment.

Subject Areas

epidemiology; transmission dynamics; isolated population; Spain

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