The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently the world’s largest public health concern. This study evaluated COVID-19 transmission risks in people in group living environments. A total of 4550 individuals with a history of recent contact with patients at different places (dormitory/home/outside the residences) and levels (close/lower-risk) were tested for SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA using a nasopharyngeal swab test between July 2020 and May 2021. The test-positive rate was highest in individuals who had contact in dormitories (27.5%), but the rates were largely different between dormitories with different infrastructural or lifestyle features and infection control measures among residents. With appropriate infection control measures, the secondary transmission risk in dormitories was adequately suppressed. The household transmission rate (12.6%) was as high as that of close contact outside the residences (11.3%) and accounted for > 60% of the current rate of COVID-19 transmission among non-adults. Household transmission rates synchronized to local epidemics with changed local capacity of quarantining infectious patients. In conclusion, a group living environment is a significant risk factor of secondary transmission. Appropriate infection control measures and quarantine of infectious residents will decrease the risk of secondary transmission in group living environments.
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