Evaluation of symptomatology and viral load among residents and healthcare staff in long-term care facilities: A coronavirus disease 2019 retrospective case-cohort study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: We evaluated COVID-19 symptoms, case fatality rate (CFR), and viral load among all Long-Term Care Facility (LTCF) residents and staff in South Limburg, the Netherlands (February 2020-June 2020, wildtype SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain).

METHODS: Patient information was gathered via regular channels used to notify the public health services. Ct-values were obtained from the Maastricht University Medical Centre laboratory. Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess associations between COVID-19, symptoms, CFR, and viral load.

RESULTS: Of 1,457 staff and 1,540 residents, 35.1% and 45.2% tested positive for COVID-19. Symptoms associated with COVID-19 for female staff were fever, cough, muscle ache and loss of taste and smell. Associated symptoms for men were cough, and loss of taste and smell. Associated symptoms for residents were subfebrility, fatigue, and fever for male residents only. LTCF residents had a higher mean viral load compared to staff. Male residents had a higher CFR (35.8%) compared to women (22.5%). Female residents with Ct-values 31 or less had increased odds of mortality.

CONCLUSIONS: Subfebrility and fatigue seem to be associated with COVID-19 in LTCF residents. Therefore, physicians should also consider testing residents who (only) show aspecific symptoms whenever available resources prohibit testing of all residents. Viral load was higher in residents compared to staff, and higher in male residents compared to female residents. All COVID-19 positive male residents, as well as female residents with a medium to high viral load (Ct-values 31 or lower) should be monitored closely, as these groups have an overall increased risk of mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0276796
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Female
  • Male
  • Humans
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Long-Term Care
  • Viral Load
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cough
  • Ageusia
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Fatigue

Cite this