MÁLAGA, SPAIN – Nearly 70 health workers from the Regional University Hospital (RUH) of Málaga, Spain, who had attended a Christmas gathering together in early December, have tested positive for COVID-19 despite all of the individuals in question having been vaccinated against COVID-19, reports say.
Over 170 employees of the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit were at the holiday meal; afterwards, 68 of them had tested positive for COVID-19. All of the healthcare workers in attendance had been fully vaccinated and had also received booster shots.
Reports indicate that the vast majority of the workers who had tested positive were asymptomatic, although some were reported to have experienced “mild” symptoms. There are no reports currently of anyone having any “severe” symptoms and no hospitalizations have resulted from the outbreak thus far.
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Once news of the infections started to break, the hospital’s management carried out COVID-19 testing on everyone who had attended the meal; workers who returned positive results were required to quarantine for ten days, and are not allowed to their jobs until they have had a negative COVID test.
In order to cover for such a large amount of their Intensive Care personal being forced to isolate themselves at home for ten days, RUH found it necessary to recruit attritional workers to take up the slack in the ICU unit according to Carlos Bueno, a union delegate for the hospital.
“This is something common when unforeseen events like this happen and above in the middle of a [period] where a good part of the staff has gone on vacation,” he said. “During this pandemic, health professionals have given 200 percent and have covered each other at times when it has been necessary without the slightest complaint and they will continue to do so.”
It is unknown if the outbreak was due to the new omicron variant of COVID-19, but Bueno stated that large group events could still lead to unintended consequences, vaccinated or not.
“The fact that an outbreak has arisen around a Christmas celebration attended by health care workers should make us reflect on the convenience of doing this type of celebration,” he said. “Although I know that those attending the celebration took measures, the virus is still there and you should not lower your guard. It is necessary to keep a distance, it is essential to use the mask indoors and it should be used in outdoor spaces where there is an agglomeration of people.”
The health workers who attended had all taken an antigen test before the gathering.