Disease Severity and Comorbidities among Healthcare Worker COVID-19 Admissions in South Africa: A Retrospective Analysis

Edith Ratshikhopha, Munyadziwa Muvhali, Nisha Naicker, Nonhlanhla Tlotleng, Waasila Jassat, Tanusha Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Healthcare workers (HCWs) are among the most vulnerable in regard to contracting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. Comorbidities are reported to increase the risk for more severe COVID-19 outcomes, often requiring hospitalization. However, the evidence on disease severity and comorbidities among South African HCWs is lacking. This retrospective study analyzed the prevalence of comorbidities among HCW hospitalized with COVID-19 and its association with the severity of outcomes. Data from public and private hospitals in nine provinces of South Africa were extracted from the national hospital surveillance database for COVID-19 admissions. A total of 10,149 COVID-19 HCWs admissions were reported from 5 March 2020 to 31 December 2021. The risk of disease severity among HCWs increased with age, with those older (≥60 years) having seven times the odds of disease severity (aOR 7.0; 95% CI 4.2–11.8) compared to HCWs in the younger age (20–29 years) group. The most commonly reported comorbidity was hypertension (36.3%), followed by diabetes (23.3%) and obesity (16.7%). Hypertension (aOR 1.3; 95% CI 1.0–1.6), diabetes (aOR 1.6; 95% CI 1.3–2.0), and HIV (aOR 1.6; 95% CI 1.2–2.1) were significantly associated with disease severity. In conclusion, age, gender, and existing comorbidities were strong predictors of the prognosis of severe COVID-19 among HCWs in South Africa. The information is important in the development of occupational health policies and vulnerability risk assessments for HCWs in light of future COVID-19 waves or similar outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5519
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • comorbidities
  • coronavirus
  • disease severity
  • health outcomes
  • risk factors
  • vulnerable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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