High SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence in Healthcare Workers in Bukavu, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

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  • 1 Gynaecology and General Surgery, Panzi General Referral Hospital, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • 2 Faculty of Medicine, Evangelical University in Africa, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo;
  • 3 Department of Microbiology, LHUB-ULB, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium;
  • 4 Department of Infectious Diseases, CHU Saint-Pierre, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium;
  • 5 Centre for Environmental Health and Occupational Health, School of Public Health, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium;
  • 6 Institute for Medical Immunology, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium;
  • 7 Department of Pulmonary Medicine, CHU Saint-Pierre, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium;
  • 8 Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, European School of Laparoscopic Surgery, Saint-Pierre University Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium;
  • 9 Division of Infection and Immunity, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University College London, London, United Kingdom

Among 359 healthcare workers (HCW) employed in Panzi General Referral Hospital located in Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 148 (41.2%) tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Thirty-three (22.3%) of the 148 personnel with positive serology reported symptoms evoking a prior COVID-19 illness. None of the infected HCWs reported COVID-related hospitalization, and all of them recovered. Our findings indicate high and underestimated circulation of SARS-CoV-2 within the Bukavu area.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Denis Mukwege, Gynaecology and General Surgery, Panzi General Referral Hospital, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Avenue de l’hopital 079, BP 266, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. E-mail: denismukwege@hotmail.com

Disclosure: N. D. is a post-doctorate clinical master specialist of the F.R.S.-FNRS. This work is dedicated to the healthcare workers, the patients, and families affected by SARS-CoV-2.

Financial support: The study was funded partly by D. M. Foundation and ZenTech Biotechnology Company which provided the Rapid Diagnostic tests.

Authors’ addresses: Denis Mukwege, Department of Gynaecology and General Surgery, Panzi General Referral Hospital, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Faculty of Medicine, Evangelical University in Africa, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, E-mail: denismukwege@hotmail.com. Aline Kusinza Byabene and Jean-Paul Cikwanine Buhendwa, Faculty of Medicine, Evangelical University in Africa, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, E-mails: alinekusinza@yahoo.fr and jpcikwa1@gmail.com. Eric Mungu Akonkwa, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Panzi General Referral Hospital, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, E-mail: ericmunguakonkwa2017@gmail.com. Hafid Dahma and Isabel Montesinos, Department of Microbiology, Laboratoire Hospitalir Universtaire de Bruxelles (LHUB-ULB), Brussels, Belgium, E-mails: hafid.dahma@lhub-ulb.be and mariaisabel.montesinoshernandez@lhub-ulb.be. Nicolas Dauby, Department of Infectious Diseases, Saint-Pierre University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: nicolas_dauby@stpierre-bru.be. Anne Le Coadou, School of Public Health, Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: Anne.Le.Coadou@ulb.be. Marie Bruyneel, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Saint-Pierre University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: marie.bruyneel@stpierre-bru.be. Guy-Bernard Cadière, Department of Gynaecology and General Surgery, Panzi General Referral Hospital, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, European School of Laparoscopic Surgery, Saint-Pierre University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: cadieregb@gmail.com. Olivier Vandenberg, School of Public Health, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium, and Division of Infection and Immunity, Faculty of Medical Sciences, UCL, London, United Kingdom, E-mail: olivier.vandenberg@ulb.ac.be. Yves Van Laethem, Department of Infectious Diseases, Saint-Pierre University Hospital, Brussels, Belgium, E-mail: yves.vanlaethem@stpierre-bru.be.

These authors contributed equally to this work.

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