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Jaetae Kim 1 Article
Delays in the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis during the COVID-19 outbreak in the Republic of Korea in 2020
Jiyeon Yang, Yunhyung Kwon, Jaetae Kim, Yoojin Jang, Jiyeon Han, Daae Kim, Hyeran Jeong, Hyekyung Park, Eunhye Shim
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2021;12(5):293-303.   Published online September 23, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2021.0063
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Graphical AbstractGraphical Abstract AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives
We investigated the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on tuberculosis (TB) management in the Republic of Korea (ROK).
Methods
This retrospective cross-sectional study used nationwide ROK TB notification data (98,346 cases) from 2017 to 2020. The median time from the onset of TB symptoms to treatment initiation and the compliance rates with the required timing for notification and individual case investigations were measured and compared across periods and regions affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.
Results
TB diagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic was delayed. The median time to TB treatment initiation (25 days) in 2020 increased by 3 days compared to that of the previous 3 years (22 days) (p<0.0001). In the outbreak in Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi province during August, the time to TB diagnosis was 4 days longer than in the previous 3 years (p=0.0303). In the outbreak in Daegu and Gyeongbuk province from February to March 2020, the compliance rate with the required timing for individual case investigations was 2.2%p points lower than in other areas in 2020 (p=0.0148). For public health centers, the rate was 13%p lower than in other areas (80.3% vs. 93.3%, p=0.0003).
Conclusion
TB diagnoses during the COVID-19 pandemic in the ROK were delayed nationwide, especially for patients notified by public-private mix TB control hospitals. TB individual case investigations were delayed in regional COVID-19 outbreak areas (Daegu and Gyeongbuk province), especially in public health centers. Developing strategies to address this issue will be helpful for sustainable TB management during future outbreaks.

PHRP : Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives