A total of 5,442 neurosurgery department medical staff members were surveyed. One hundred and twenty cases, involving 54 doctors and 66 nurses, were found to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2. The overall incidence was 2.2%. These cases were concentrated in 26 centres, 16 of which had admitted a total of 59 patients with COVID-19 complicated by craniocerebral disease. Medical staff members in centres receiving COVID-19 patients had a higher risk of contracting infection than those in centres not receiving COVID-19 patients (relative risk: 19.6; 95% confidence interval: 12.6–30.6). Contact with either COVID-19 patients (62.5%, 75/120) or infected colleagues (30.8%, 37/120) was the most common mode of transmission. About 78.3% (94/120) of the infected cases wore surgical masks, whereas 20.8% (25/120) failed to use protection when exposed to the source of infection. Severe infections were observed in 11.7% (14/120) of the cases, with one death (0.8%, 1/120). All the infected medical staff members had been discharged from the hospital. A total of 1,287 medical staff members were dispatched to participate in the frontline response to COVID-19 under level 2 protection of whom one was infected. Medical staff members who took inadequate protection had a higher risk of contracting infection than those using level 2 protection (relative risk: 36.9; 95% confidence interval: 5.2–263.6).