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Public Health ; 214: 20-24, 2022 Oct 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2241980


OBJECTIVES: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to change many behaviours, including physical distancing, hygiene measures and lifestyles. This study aimed to evaluate the indirect impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the incidence of non-COVID-19 infections and medical care costs/visits using health insurance claims. STUDY DESIGN: This was an observational study using patient-based administrative claims covering approximately 800,000 insured persons and their dependents in the Mie Prefecture in Japan. METHODS: This study identified non-COVID-19 infectious disease incidences, number of outpatient visits and healthcare costs between 2017 and 2021. Each year was divided into quarters. The adjusted incidence rate ratios (IRRs) during the pandemic (January 2020 to September 2021) and during the prepandemic period (January 2017 to December 2019) were determined using Poisson regression. RESULTS: The adjusted influenza IRRs from April 2020 were close to zero. The incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and bacterial pneumonia was significantly reduced (IRRs range: 0.39-0.73 and 0.43-0.84, respectively). Gastrointestinal and urinary tract infection incidences decreased by approximately 30% and 10%, respectively. In contrast, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including syphilis, gonococcal infection and Chlamydia trachomatis infection, did not decrease during the pandemic but increased significantly between April and June 2021 (adjusted IRR, 1.37; 95% confidence interval, 1.18-1.60). The adjusted IRRs for outpatient visits and healthcare costs were 0.86-0.93 and 0.91-0.97, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to other infections, STIs did not decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic. The IRR of STIs during the pandemic period is an area of public health concern. Appropriate screening and medical consultations are strongly recommended.