Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases at a screening clinic during the early outbreak period: a single-centre study

Khan M.,
Khan H.,
Khan S.,
Nawaz M.
Document Type
Source Title
Journal of Medical Microbiology
Microbiology Society


Introduction. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Corona Virus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province, and has since spread globally, resulting in the ongoing 2019–2020 corona virus pandemic. SARS-CoV-2 is closely related to the original SARS-CoV. It is thought to have a zoonotic origin. The virus is primarily spread between people during close contact, often via small droplets produced by coughing, sneezing or talking. People may also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. COVID-19 patients currently remain the primary source of infection. An epidemiological survey indicated that the general population is susceptible to SARS-CoV-2. The spectrum of this disease ranges from mild to life-threatening. Fever is the most common symptom, although older people and those with comorbidities may experience fever later in the disease. Other common symptoms include cough, loss of appetite, fatigue, shortness of breath, sputum production, and muscle and joint pains. Symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea have been observed in varying percentages. Some cases might progress promptly to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and/or multiple organ function failure. Asymptomatic carriers and those in the incubation period may also be infectious. Aim. To determine the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of patients presenting with COVID-19 at the screening clinic of a tertiary care hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan. Methodology. In this descriptive study, we analysed data of patients presenting to a newly established Covid-19 screening clinic in Rehman Medical Institute. Anyone who reported with new onset fever and/or cough was tested for SARS-CoV-2 in the screening clinic. We documented and analysed demographic, epidemiological and clinical characteristics, which included age, sex, travel history, clinical features, comorbidities and laboratory data of patients confirmed by real-time reverse-transcription (RT)-PCR at Rehman Medical Institute, Peshawar, Pakistan from 15 March till 21 April 2020. Paired specimens of throat swabs and nasal swabs were obtained from 845 patients, ribonucleic acid (RNA) was extracted and tested for SARS-CoV-2 by the RT-PCR assay. Results. A total of 845 specimens were taken as described above. The positive rate for SARS-CoV-2 was about 14.3%. Male and older population had a significantly higher positive rate. Of the 121 patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the mean age was 43.19 years (sd, 17.57) and the infections were more frequent among male gender accounting for 85 (70.25%) patients. Common symptoms included fever (88 patients, 72%), cough (72 patients, 59.5%) and shortness of breath (69 patients, 57%). Twenty-two (18%) patients had recent travel history outside Pakistan in the previous 14 days, the majority of whom had returned back from Saudi Arabia. Conclusion. In this single-centre, prospective, descriptive study, fever, cough and shortness of breath were the most common symptoms. Old age (>50 years), chronic underlying comorbidities and travel history may be risk factors. Therefore, we concluded that viral nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) played an important role in identifying SARS-CoV-2 infection in a screening clinic, which helped with isolation and cohorting of these patients. © 2020 The Authors

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virus RNA; complementary DNA; virus RNA; adolescent; adult; age; aged; Article; asthma; cardiovascular disease; cerebrovascular disease; child; clinical feature; comorbidity; coronavirus disease 2019; coughing; demography; descriptive research; diabetes mellitus; diarrhea; dyspnea; epidemic; female; fever; headache; hepatitis B; hepatitis C; human; Human immunodeficiency virus infection; hypertension; laboratory test; limit of detection; major clinical study; male; medical record review; middle aged; myalgia; nausea and vomiting; nose smear; Pakistan; preschool child; priority journal; real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction; retrospective study; RNA extraction; Saudi Arabia; school child; screening test; sex; sex difference; sore throat; tertiary care center; throat culture; travel; very elderly; young adult; age distribution; Betacoronavirus; Coronavirus infection; genetics; infant; isolation and purification; mass screening; pandemic; prospective study; real time polymerase chain reaction; risk factor; sex ratio; virus pneumonia; Adolescent; Adult; Age Distribution; Aged; Aged, 80 and over; Betacoronavirus; Child; Child, Preschool; Comorbidity; Coronavirus Infections; Disease Outbreaks; DNA, Complementary; Female; Humans; Infant; Male; Mass Screening; Middle Aged; Pandemics; Pneumonia, Viral; Prospective Studies; Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction; Risk Factors; RNA, Viral; Sex Distribution; Travel; Young Adult