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Short Communication
COVID-19 outbreak and risk factors for infection in a taekwondo gym in the Republic of Korea
Seung Hwan Shin, Eonjoo Park, Sookhyun Kim, Minji Jang, Subin Park, Dong-Hwi Kim, Tae Jong Son, Ji-Hyuk Park
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2022;13(2):162-170.   Published online March 31, 2022
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2021.0295
  • 677 View
  • 46 Download
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives
Relatively few studies have assessed risk factors for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in public facilities used by children and adolescents. This study presents an analysis of a COVID-19 outbreak that occurred in a taekwondo gym in Korea, predominantly among children and adolescents, with the aim of providing insights on managing COVID-19 outbreaks in similar facilities. Methods: All 108 taekwondo gym students and staff received COVID-19 tests. A survey and closed-circuit television analyses were used to identify risk factors. A univariate analysis was conducted, followed by multivariate logistic regression analysis with backward elimination for variables with a significance level <0.10 in the univariate analysis. Results: COVID-19 was confirmed in 30 of 108 subjects at the taekwondo gym (attack rate, 27.8%). The outbreak started in an adult class student. This student transmitted the virus to the staff, who consequently transmitted the virus to adolescent students. In the univariate analysis, the relative risk for younger age (≤9 years) was 2.14 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01–4.54; p=0.054), and that for food consumption inside the gym was 2.12 (95% CI, 1.04–4.30; p=0.048). In the multivariate logistic regression analysis, the odds ratio for younger age was 2.96 (95% CI, 1.07–8.20; p=0.036), and that for food consumption inside the gym was 3.00 (95% CI, 1.10–8.17; p=0.032). Conclusion: Food consumption inside the facility and young age were significant risk factors for COVID-19 transmission in this taekwondo gym. Food consumption should be prohibited in sports facilities, and infection prevention education for young students is also required.
Review Articles
Worldwide prevalence of fungal coinfections among COVID-19 patients: a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis
Saber Soltani, Milad Zandi, Samireh Faramarzi, Ramin Shahbahrami, Mohebat Vali, Sara Akhavan Rezayat, Reza Pakzad, Pooneh Malekifar, Iraj Pakzad, Neda Jahandoost, Jalal Moludi
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2022;13(1):15-23.   Published online February 8, 2022
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2021.0293
  • 4,611 View
  • 66 Download
AbstractAbstract PDFSupplementary Material
Microbial coinfections can increase the morbidity and mortality rates of viral respiratory diseases. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the pooled prevalence of fungal coinfections in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. Web of Science, Medline, Scopus, and Embase were searched without language restrictions to identify the related research on COVID-19 patients with fungal coinfections from December 1, 2019, to December 30, 2020. A random-effects model was used for analysis. The sample size included 2,246 patients from 8 studies. The pooled prevalence of fungal coinfections was 12.60%. The frequency of fungal subtype coinfections was 3.71% for Aspergillus, 2.39% for Candida, and 0.39% for other. The World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe and Regional Office for Southeast Asia had the highest (23.28%) and lowest (4.53%) estimated prevalence of fungal coinfection, respectively. Our findings showed a high prevalence of fungal coinfections in COVID-19 cases, which is a likely contributor to mortality in COVID-19 patients. Early identification of fungal pathogens in the laboratory for COVID-19 patients can lead to timely treatment and prevention of further damage by this hidden infection.
The role of lipids in the pathophysiology of coronavirus infections
Milad Zandi, Parastoo Hosseini, Saber Soltani, Azadeh Rasooli, Mona Moghadami, Sepideh Nasimzadeh, Farzane Behnezhad
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2021;12(5):278-285.   Published online October 15, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2021.0153
  • 2,333 View
  • 131 Download
Graphical AbstractGraphical Abstract AbstractAbstract PDF
Coronaviruses, which have been known to cause diseases in animals since the 1930s, utilize cellular components during their replication cycle. Lipids play important roles in viral infection, as coronaviruses target cellular lipids and lipid metabolism to modify their host cells to become an optimal environment for viral replication. Therefore, lipids can be considered as potential targets for the development of antiviral agents. This review provides an overview of the roles of cellular lipids in different stages of the life cycle of coronaviruses.
Scrutiny of COVID-19 response strategies among severely affected European nations
Shine Stephen, Alwin Issac, Rakesh Vadakkethil Radhakrishnan, Jaison Jacob, VR Vijay, Sam Jose, SM Azhar, Anoop S. Nair, Nadiya Krishnan, Rakesh Sharma, Manju Dhandapani
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2021;12(4):203-214.   Published online July 29, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2021.0068
  • 6,274 View
  • 110 Download
  • 3 Citations
Graphical AbstractGraphical Abstract AbstractAbstract PDF
Although the health care systems in Europe are considered the global benchmark, European nations were severely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This manuscript aimed to examine the strategies implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Russia and their outcomes in terms of the number of cases, testing, and deaths. This is the first review of its kind that extensively analyzes the preparedness, mitigation, and response strategies against the COVID-19 pandemic adopted by these nations. This paper further suggests a strategic preparedness model for future pandemics. From the analysis, we found that a decentralized approach, prompt decision-making and timely execution, coordination between local health authorities, and public participation in the implementation of strategies could substantially reduce the case fatality rate. Nations with a high percentage of gross domestic product invested in the health sector, as well as more nurses, physicians, hospital beds, intensive care unit beds, and ventilators, better managed the pandemic. Instead, nations that postponed their pandemic response by delaying tracking, tracing, testing, quarantine, and lockdown were badly affected. The lessons learned from the present pandemic could be used as a guide to prepare for further pandemics.
Original Article
Global variation of COVID-19 mortality rates in the initial phase
Saman Hasan Siddiqui, Azza Sarfraz, Arjumand Rizvi, Fariha Shaheen, Mohammad Tahir Yousafzai, Syed Asad Ali
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2021;12(2):64-72.   Published online April 29, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2021.12.2.03
  • 2,904 View
  • 133 Download
  • 4 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDFSupplementary Material
Objectives
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has caused devastation in over 200 countries. Italy, Spain, and the United States (US) were most severely affected by the first wave of the pandemic. The reasons why some countries were more strongly affected than others remain unknown. We identified the most-affected and less-affected countries and states and explored environmental, host, and infrastructure risk factors that may explain differences in the SARS-CoV-2 mortality burden.
Methods
We identified the top 10 countries/US states with the highest deaths per population until May 2020. For each of these 10 case countries/states, we identified 6 control countries/states with a similar population size and at least 3 times fewer deaths per population. We extracted data for 30 risk factors from publicly available, trusted sources. We compared case and control countries/states using the non-parametric Wilcoxon rank-sum test, and conducted a secondary cluster analysis to explore the relationship between the number of cases per population and the number of deaths per population using a scalable EM (expectation–maximization) clustering algorithm.
Results
Statistically significant differences were found in 16 of 30 investigated risk factors, the most important of which were temperature, neonatal and under-5 mortality rates, the percentage of under-5 deaths due to acute respiratory infections (ARIs) and diarrhea, and tuberculosis incidence (p<0.05)
Conclusion
Countries with a higher burden of baseline pediatric mortality rates, higher pediatric mortality from preventable diseases like diarrhea and ARI, and higher tuberculosis incidence had lower rates of coronavirus disease 2019-associated mortality, supporting the hygiene hypothesis.
Brief Reports
Operating a National Hotline in Korea During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Rok Song, Yuh Seog Choi, Jae Young Ko
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(6):380-382.   Published online December 22, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.6.06
  • 3,104 View
  • 75 Download
  • 3 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF

The importance of effective communication cannot be overestimated during a pandemic. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency national 1339 hotline has been in operation since the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus outbreak in 2016. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and provides accurate, reliable information based upon the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency guidelines in response to queries. During the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the 1339 hotline received callers’ questions about symptoms and the implications of their actions regarding the epidemic. Through the 1339 hotline, callers received the up-to-date information that enabled them to protect themselves as well as others from COVID-19. This public service may have influenced on reduced risk of virus transmission in Korea.

A Public-Private Partnership Model to Build a Triage System in Response to a COVID-19 Outbreak in Hanam City, South Korea
Seong Su Ku, Young June Choe
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(5):339-342.   Published online October 22, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.5.11
  • 3,453 View
  • 78 Download
  • 3 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF

A substantial, immediate healthcare burden for screening of Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is created when large-scale outbreaks occur. There have been a series of measures to strengthen the screening process through robust public-private partnerships between Hanam City Public Health Center (PHC), the local medical association, and central/provincial government. A partnership between PHC and the local physician’s group in Hanam City established the Respiratory Clinic. The PHC provided the infrastructure for the Respiratory Clinic including medical facilities, supplies (i.e. personal protective equipment), and administrative support. A total of 11 registered physicians from the local physicians group agreed to participate in clinical service provided at the Respiratory Clinic. Any citizens with COVID-19 suspected respiratory symptoms call the COVID-19 hotline and visit the Respiratory Clinic if required. Responding to COVID-19 outbreaks will be a continual process, and the screening system is essential support to public health interventions, and crucial in the response to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Original Article
COVID-19 in Nursing Facilities: Experience in Republic of Korea
Rok Song, Hee-Sook Kim, Seok-Ju Yoo, Kwan Lee, Ji-Hyuk Park, Joon Ho Jang, Gyoung-Sook Ahn, Jun-Nyun Kim
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(4):164-169.   Published online August 31, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.4.04
  • 4,145 View
  • 126 Download
  • 4 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreaks in nursing facilities can easily lead to a high rate of infection and fatality. A surge in newly infected cases in the first quarter of 2020 in Gyeongsan-si, in the Republic of Korea, was followed by several outbreaks in nursing facilities in the same area. The aim of this study is to report on the epidemiological investigation and the management to reduce the infection rate in nursing facilities for older adults.

Methods

The municipal government and the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention performed an epidemiological investigation into 5 nursing facilities that reported a high number of COVID-19 infection cases from February to May 2020. COVID-19 infected cases in the facilities were investigated to identify the infection routes, and the fatality rate of the 5 facilities.

Results

The 5 facilities had a combined fatality rate of 12.2% (9 deceased among the 74 infected cases). The median age of the deceased was 87 years old (range: 82–91). The infection was first identified on February 27th, 2020, peaked on March 6th, and was last detected on March 24th, 2020.

Conclusion

Difficulties specific to such facilities included the delay in the recognition of symptoms and limitation in distancing. Tailored strategies such as daily monitoring of symptoms and proactive COVID-19 screening of quarantined residents, contributed to a decline in the infections in the facilities.

Review Article
COVID-19: Weighing the Endeavors of Nations, with Time to Event Analysis
Shine Stephen, Alwin Issac, Jaison Jacob, VR Vijay, Rakesh Vadakkethil Radhakrishnan, Nadiya Krishnan
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(4):149-157.   Published online August 31, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.4.02
  • 3,470 View
  • 93 Download
  • 8 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF

The cataclysmic COVID-19 pandemic erupted silently causing colossal impact worldwide, the repercussions of which indicated a lackadaisical vigilance in preparation for such a pandemic. This review assessed the measures taken by nations to contain this pandemic. A literature review was conducted using Medline, Google Scholar, Science Direct, Scopus, and WHO website. There were 8 nations (selected from the GHS index list) appraised for containment strategies. This was achieved by using mortality rate (per million) as the primary endpoint. The nations which were proactive, initiated scientific strategies earlier with rigor, appeared to have succeeded in containing the pandemic, although it is still too early to arbitrate a verdict. The so called “pandemic war” mandates international, interdisciplinary, and interdepartmental collaboration. Furthermore, building trust and confidence between the government and the public, having transparent communication, information sharing, use of advanced research-technology, and plentiful resources are required in the fight against COVID-19.

Editorial
The Impact of Social Distancing on the Transmission of Influenza Virus, South Korea, 2020
Young June Choe, Jong-Koo Lee
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(3):91-92.   Published online June 1, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.3.07
  • 4,830 View
  • 235 Download
  • 14 Citations
PDF
Original Article
Cross-Country Comparison of Case Fatality Rates of COVID-19/SARS-COV-2
Morteza Abdullatif Khafaie, Fakher Rahim
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(2):74-80.   Published online April 30, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.2.03
  • 15,370 View
  • 643 Download
  • 115 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDFSupplementary Material
Objectives

Case fatality rates (CFR) and recovery rates are important readouts during epidemics and pandemics. In this article, an international analysis was performed on the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Methods

Data were retrieved from accurate databases according to the user’s guide of data sources for patient registries, CFR and recovery rates were calculated for each country. A comparison of CFR between countries with total cases ≥ 1,000 was observed for 12th and 23rd March.

Results

Italy’s CFR was the highest of all countries studied for both time points (12th March, 6.22% versus 23rd March, 9.26%). The data showed that even though Italy was the only European country reported on 12rd March, Spain and France had the highest CFR of 6.16 and 4.21%, respectively, on 23rd March, which was strikingly higher than the overall CFR of 3.61%.

Conclusion

Obtaining detailed and accurate medical history from COVID-19 patients, and analyzing CFR alongside the recovery rate, may enable the identification of the highest risk areas so that efficient medical care may be provided. This may lead to the development of point-of-care tools to help clinicians in stratifying patients based on possible requirements in the level of care, to increase the probabilities of survival from COVID-19 disease.

Short Communication
Contact Transmission of COVID-19 in South Korea: Novel Investigation Techniques for Tracing Contacts
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(1):60-63.   Published online February 28, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.1.09
  • 32,796 View
  • 997 Download
  • 99 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF

In the epidemiological investigation of an infectious disease, investigating, classifying, tracking, and managing contacts by identifying the patient’s route are important for preventing further transmission of the disease. However, omissions and errors in previous activities can occur when the investigation is performed through only a proxy interview with the patient. To overcome these limitations, methods that can objectively verify the patient’s claims (medical facility records, Global Positioning System, card transactions, and closed-circuit television) were used for the recent ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 contact investigations in South Korea.

Original Articles
Identification of Coronavirus Isolated from a Patient in Korea with COVID-19
Jeong-Min Kim, Yoon-Seok Chung, Hye Jun Jo, Nam-Joo Lee, Mi Seon Kim, Sang Hee Woo, Sehee Park, Jee Woong Kim, Heui Man Kim, Myung-Guk Han
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2020;11(1):3-7.   Published online February 28, 2020
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2020.11.1.02
  • 39,201 View
  • 1,170 Download
  • 254 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives

Following reports of patients with unexplained pneumonia at the end of December 2019 in Wuhan, China, the causative agent was identified as coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), and the 2019 novel coronavirus disease was named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. Putative patients with COVID-19 have been identified in South Korea, and attempts have been made to isolate the pathogen from these patients.

Methods

Upper and lower respiratory tract secretion samples from putative patients with COVID-19 were inoculated onto cells to isolate the virus. Full genome sequencing and electron microscopy were used to identify the virus.

Results

The virus replicated in Vero cells and cytopathic effects were observed. Full genome sequencing showed that the virus genome exhibited sequence homology of more than 99.9% with SARS-CoV-2 which was isolated from patients from other countries, for instance China. Sequence homology of SARS-CoV-2 with SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV was 77.5% and 50%, respectively. Coronavirus-specific morphology was observed by electron microscopy in virus-infected Vero cells.

Conclusion

SARS-CoV-2 was isolated from putative patients with unexplained pneumonia and intermittent coughing and fever. The isolated virus was named BetaCoV/Korea/KCDC03/2020.

Effects of Timely Control Intervention on the Spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Infection
Ilsu Choi, Dong Ho Lee, Yongkuk Kim
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2017;8(6):373-376.   Published online December 31, 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.24171/j.phrp.2017.8.6.03
  • 2,498 View
  • 26 Download
  • 1 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives

The 2015 Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak in Korea caused major economic and social problems. The control intervention was conducted during the MERS-CoV outbreak in Korea immediately after the confirmation of the index case. This study investigates whether the early risk communication with the general public and mass media is an effective preventive strategy.

Methods

The SEIR (Susceptible, Exposed, Infectious, Recovered) model with estimated parameters for the time series data of the daily MERS-CoV incidence in Korea was considered from May to December 2015. For 10,000 stochastic simulations, the SEIR model was computed using the Gillespie algorithm. Depending on the time of control intervention on the 20th, 40th, and 60th days after the identification of the index case, the box plots of MERS-CoV incidences in Korea were computed, and the results were analyzed via ANOVA.

Results

The box plots showed that there was a significant difference between the non-intervention and intervention groups (the 20th day, 40th day, and 60th day groups) and seemed to show no significant difference based on the time of intervention. However, the ANOVA revealed that early intervention was a good strategy to control the disease.

Conclusion

Appropriate risk communication can secure the confidence of the general public in the public health authorities.

The Characteristics of Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Transmission Dynamics in South Korea
Yunhwan Kim, Sunmi Lee, Chaeshin Chu, Seoyun Choe, Saeme Hong, Youngseo Shin
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2016;7(1):49-55.   Published online February 28, 2016
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrp.2016.01.001
  • 2,214 View
  • 24 Download
  • 55 Citations
AbstractAbstract PDF
Objectives
The outbreak of Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) was one of the major events in South Korea in 2015. In particular, this study pays attention to formulating a mathematical model for MERS transmission dynamics and estimating transmission rates.
Methods
Incidence data of MERS-CoV from the government authority was analyzed for the first aim and a mathematical model was built and analyzed for the second aim of the study. A mathematical model for MERS-CoV transmission dynamics is used to estimate the transmission rates in two periods due to the implementation of intensive interventions.
Results
Using the estimates of the transmission rates, the basic reproduction number was estimated in two periods. Due to the superspreader, the basic reproduction number was very large in the first period; however, the basic reproduction number of the second period has reduced significantly after intensive interventions.
Conclusion
It turned out to be the intensive isolation and quarantine interventions that were the most critical factors that prevented the spread of the MERS outbreak. The results are expected to be useful to devise more efficient intervention strategies in the future.

PHRP : Osong Public Health and Research Perspectives