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Preprint in English | EMBASE | ID: ppcovidwho-326852


Introduction: Understanding human mixing patterns relevant to infectious diseases spread through close contact is vital for modelling transmission dynamics and optimisation of disease control strategies. Mixing patterns in low-income countries like Malawi are not well understood. Methodology: We conducted a social mixing survey in urban Blantyre, Malawi between April and July 2021 (between the 2nd and 3rd wave of COVID-19 infections). Participants living in densely-populated neighbourhoods were randomly sampled and, if they consented, reported their physical and non-physical contacts within and outside homes lasting at least 5 minutes during the previous day. Age-specific mixing rates were calculated, and a negative binomial mixed effects model was used to estimate determinants of contact behaviour. Results: Of 1,201 individuals enrolled, 702 (58.5%) were female, the median age was 15 years (interquartile range [IQR] 5-32) and 127 (10.6%) were HIV-positive. On average, participants reported 10.3 contacts per day (range: 1-25). Mixing patterns were highly age-assortative, particularly those within the community and with skin-to-skin contact. Adults aged 20-49y reported the most contacts (median:11, IQR: 8-15) of all age groups;38% (95%CI: 16-63) more than infants (median: 8, IQR: 5-10), who had the least contacts. Household contact frequency increased by 3% (95%CI 2-5) per additional household member. Unemployed participants had 15% (95%CI: 9-21) fewer contacts than other adults. Among long range (>30 meters away from home) contacts, secondary school children had the largest median contact distance from home (257m, IQR 78-761). HIV-positive status in adults >18 years-old was not associated with increased contact patterns (1%, 95%CI -9-12). During this period of relatively low COVID-19 incidence in Malawi, 301 (25.1%) individuals stated that they had limited their contact with others due to COVID-19 precautions;however, their reported contacts were not fewer (8%, 95%CI 1-13). Conclusion: In urban Malawi, contact rates, are high and age-assortative, with little behavioural change due to either HIV-status or COVID-19 circulation. This highlights the limits of contact-restriction-based mitigation strategies in such settings and the need for pandemic preparedness to better understand how contact reductions can be enabled and motivated.

Pubmed; 2020.
Preprint in English | PubMed | ID: ppcovidwho-2275


Institutions such as hospitals and nursing or long-stay residential homes accommodate individuals at considerable risk of mortality should they acquire SARS-CoV-2 infection. In these settings, polymerase chain reaction tests play a central role in infection prevention and control. Here, we argue that both false negative and false positive tests are possible and that careful consideration of the prior probability of infection and of test characteristics are needed to prevent harm. We outline evidence suggesting that regular systematic testing of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals could play an important role in reducing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within institutions. We discuss how such a programme might be organised, arguing that frequent testing and rapid reporting of results are particularly important. We highlight studies demonstrating that polymerase chain reaction testing of pooled samples can be undertaken with acceptable loss of sensitivity, and advocate such an approach where test capacity is limited. We provide an approach to calculating the most efficient pool size. Given the current limitations of tests for SARS-CoV-2 infection, physical distancing and meticulous infection prevention and control will remain essential in institutions caring for vulnerable people.