Cavicchiolo ME, Trevisanuto D, Lolli E, et al. Universal screening of high-risk neonates, parents, and staff at a neonatal intensive care unit during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic [published online ahead of print, 2020 Aug 7]. Eur J Pediatr. 2020;1-7. doi:10.1007/s00431-020-03765-7
Since February 21, 2020, SARS-CoV-2 has spread exponentially worldwide. Neonatal patients needing intensive care are considered a vulnerable population. To report the results of a policy based on multi-timepoint surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 of all neonates admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), their parents, and all healthcare providers in a part of Italy with a high prevalence of the infection. Observational study conducted from 21 February to 21 April 2020. Intervention consisted of (a) parental triage on arrival at the neonatal ward; (b) universal testing with nasopharyngeal swabs and blood testing for SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG antibodies; (c) use of continuous personal protective equipment at the NICU by parents and staff. A total of 6726 triage procedures were performed on 114 parents, and 954 nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from 226 individuals. Five (2.2%) asymptomatic individuals (2 parents and 3 healthcare providers) tested positive on nasopharyngeal swabs and were kept isolated for 14 days. Of 75 admitted newborn, no one tested positive on nasopharyngeal swabs or antibody tests. Three parents presented with fever or flu-like symptoms at triage; they tested negative on swabs. Conclusion: With universal screening of neonates, parents, and staff, there were no cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection among the neonates admitted to a NICU in an area with a high incidence of SARS-CoV-2. Our experience could be usefully compared with other strategies with a view to developing future evidence-based guidelines for managing high-risk neonates in case of new epidemics. What is Known: • The novel coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2 has since spread worldwide at a remarkable rate, with more than 2.5 million confirmed cases. • Pediatric population may be less affected from COVID-19 than adult population but infants and newborn babies seem to be more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 infection. What is New: • Using an approach based on triage; testing with nasopharyngeal swabs and serology; and use of personal protective equipment, there were no cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection among neonates in a NICU in a high incidence of SARS-CoV-2 area. • Positive and asymptomatic individuals were identified and isolated early allowing the containment of infection’s spread among healthcare providers and parents.