J Infect Public Health

. 2020 Jun 8;S1876-0341(20)30492-5.
doi: 10.1016/j.jiph.2020.05.026. Online ahead of print.
Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia: A National Retrospective Study

Yousef M Alsofayan 1 , Saqer M Althunayyan 2 , Anas A Khan 3 , Ahmed M Hakawi 4 , Abdullah M Assiri 5



Background: The global battle to contain the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic rages on. Previous studies described the clinical characteristics of COVID-19, but knowledge gaps remain in the Middle East region. Identifying these features will help in mapping the disease and guiding pandemic management. A multi-center, retrospective cross-sectional study was initiated to describe the demographic data, clinical characteristics, and outcomes of COVID-19 cases across all the regions of Saudi Arabia.
Methods: The analysis included all laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 patients from the 1st of March 2020 to 31st of March 2020 across all regions of Saudi Arabia. Demographic data, clinical characteristics, incubation periods, laboratory findings, and patient outcomes data were retrieved from 1519 cases in the Health Electronic Surveillance Network Database.
Results: The median age was 36 years and 54.3% (n = 825) of the patients were men. Patients working in health care facilities represented 12.5% of the cases (n = 190) and 9.3% of cases were asymptomatic. The median incubation period was 6 days. The most common symptoms were cough (89.4%), fever (85.6%), and sore throat (81.6%); 20.1% of the patients had underlying comorbidities. Hypertension was seen in 8.8% and diabetes in 7.6% of all the cases. The percentage of cases with temperatures >38֯C was 20.3% (n = 129), and 1.6% of patients had heart rates ≥125 beats/min and 4.7% of them had respiratory rates of >24 breaths/min. Lymphocytopenia occurred in 37.5% of cases. Overall, 71.6% of patients were admitted to hospitals and 4.7% required ICU treatment. We could not completely assess the clinical courses or final outcomes of COVID-19 patients.
Conclusion: In this multi-center retrospective study, fever and cough were common symptoms. Special attention should be addressed toward asymptomatic carriers and workers in health care facilities as they play a key role in disease transmission.

Keywords: COVID-19; Clinical characteristics; Coronavirus; Outbreak; Saudi Arabia.