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QJM ; 113(8): 551-555, 2020 Aug 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-610983


BACKGROUND: Under the unique Japanese policy to restrict reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, a nationwide number of its confirmed cases and mortality remains to be low. Yet the information is lacking on geographical differences of these measures and their associated factors. AIM: Evaluation of prefecture-based geographical differences and associated predictors for the incidence and number of RT-PCR tests for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using regression and correlation analysis. METHODS: We retrieved domestic laboratory-confirmed cases, deaths and the number of RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 from 15 January to 6 April 2020 in 47 prefectures in Japan, using publicly available data by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. We did descriptive analyses of these three measures and identified significant predictors for the incidence and RT-PCR testing through multiple regression analyses and correlates with the number of deaths through correlation analysis. RESULTS: The median prefectural-level incidence and number of RT-PCR testing per 100 000 population were 1.14 and 38.6, respectively. Multiple regression analyses revealed that significant predictors for the incidence were prefectural-level population (P < 0.001) and the number of RT-PCR testing (P = 0.03); and those for RT-PCR testing were the incidence (P = 0.025), available beds (P = 0.045) and cluster infections (P = 0.034). CONCLUSION: Considering bidirectional association between the incidence and RT-PCR testing, there may have been an underdiagnosed population for the infection. The restraint policy for RT-PCR testing should be revisited to meet the increasing demand under the COVID-19 epidemic.

Betacoronavirus , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/methods , Clinical Laboratory Techniques/statistics & numerical data , Coronavirus Infections/diagnosis , Cross-Sectional Studies , Hospital Bed Capacity/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Incidence , Japan/epidemiology , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/diagnosis , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2