About this release
This report summaries analysis of thirty five weeks of surveillance data collected from asymptomatic patients and staff in dental settings across Scotland from 3rd August 2020 to 1st April 2021. It is part of the wider programme of Enhanced Surveillance of COVID-19 in Scotland (ESoCiS).
- Over 10,000 patients attending dental clinics across Scotland had a COVID-19 PCR swab test when attending for dental care. In addition, over 800 staff swabs were taken in the final eight weeks of the programme.
- The asymptomatic dental surveillance programme identified that, even though people who have been screened as having no symptoms of COVID-19, they can return a positive test.
- Swab COVID-19 positivity rates reflected the underlying community prevalence from 3rd August 2020 to 1st April 2021. Overall patient test positivity was 0.6% (95%Confidence Interval 0.5%, 0.8%)
- The results are a salient reminder to clinical staff that patients, although asymptomatic, may still harbour the virus, so ongoing adherence to good Infection Prevention Control (IPC) guidance and adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are important.
- The findings and implications are pertinent for other clinical outpatient settings.
- A serology sub-study was completed involving a small number of staff and patients.
- Dental settings are a feasible setting for population surveillance to be carried out.
|Programme week||Samples||Negative||Void||Positive||Percentage positive||Lower CI*||Upper CI*|
|Week 1 (3 Aug -)||73||72||1||0||0.0||0.0||5.0|
|Week 21 - break||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Week 22 - break||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Week 23 (4 Jan - )||255||248||5||2||0.8||0.2||2.8|
|Week 35 (29 Mar - )||66||64||0||2||3.0||0.8||10.4|
|Overall Total (Weeks 1-35)||10,415||10,117||234||64||0.6||0.5||0.8|
Following lockdown in March 2020, Urgent Dental Care Centres (UDCCs) were established across Scotland for dental emergency provision. As patients attending these UDCCs were already making an essential visit outside lockdown restrictions, it was proposed that dentistry should contribute to COVID-19 testing and surveillance. Dental teams could be trained to undertake COVID-19 swab testing and were already wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. Moreover, dental settings in Scotland had previously been shown to be a feasible source of participants, representative of the population for virus (HPV) testing.
PHS established a National Steering Group for surveillance of COVID-19 in dental settings, focussing on asymptomatic patients who had already been screened as free from symptoms prior to their dental appointment1. Two NHS Boards (NHS Fife and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde) piloted the programme before it was rolled out.
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