Currently, hospitals have been forced to divert substantial resources to cope with the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It is unclear if this situation will affect long-standing infection prevention practices and impact on healthcare associated infections. Here, we report a nosocomial cluster of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) that occurred on a COVID-19 dedicated intensive care unit (ICU) despite intensified contact precautions during the current pandemic. Whole genome sequence-based typing (WGS) was used to investigate genetic relatedness of VRE isolates collected from COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients during the outbreak and to compare them to environmental VRE samples.
Five VRE isolated from patients (three clinical and two screening samples) as well as 11 VRE and six vancomycin susceptible Enterococcus faecium (E. faecium) samples from environmental sites underwent WGS during the outbreak investigation. Isolate relatedness was determined using core genome multilocus sequence typing (cgMLST).
WGS revealed two genotypic distinct VRE clusters with genetically closely related patient and environmental isolates. The cluster was terminated by enhanced infection control bundle strategies.
Our results illustrate the importance of continued adherence to infection prevention and control measures during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent VRE transmission and healthcare associated infections.
COVID-19; Healthcare-associated infection; Intensive care unit; Nosocomial VRE cluster; Surface contamination; vanB.