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1.
JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(6): e24251, 2021 06 17.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2197876

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: COVID-19 transmission rates in South Asia initially were under control when governments implemented health policies aimed at controlling the pandemic such as quarantines, travel bans, and border, business, and school closures. Governments have since relaxed public health restrictions, which resulted in significant outbreaks, shifting the global epicenter of COVID-19 to India. Ongoing systematic public health surveillance of the COVID-19 pandemic is needed to inform disease prevention policy to re-establish control over the pandemic within South Asia. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to inform public health leaders about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, how South Asia displays differences within and among countries and other global regions, and where immediate action is needed to control the outbreaks. METHODS: We extracted COVID-19 data spanning 62 days from public health registries and calculated traditional and enhanced surveillance metrics. We use an empirical difference equation to measure the daily number of cases in South Asia as a function of the prior number of cases, the level of testing, and weekly shifts in variables with a dynamic panel model that was estimated using the generalized method of moments approach by implementing the Arellano-Bond estimator in R. RESULTS: Traditional surveillance metrics indicate that South Asian countries have an alarming outbreak, with India leading the region with 310,310 new daily cases in accordance with the 7-day moving average. Enhanced surveillance indicates that while Pakistan and Bangladesh still have a high daily number of new COVID-19 cases (n=4819 and n=3878, respectively), their speed of new infections declined from April 12-25, 2021, from 2.28 to 2.18 and 3.15 to 2.35 daily new infections per 100,000 population, respectively, which suggests that their outbreaks are decreasing and that these countries are headed in the right direction. In contrast, India's speed of new infections per 100,000 population increased by 52% during the same period from 14.79 to 22.49 new cases per day per 100,000 population, which constitutes an increased outbreak. CONCLUSIONS: Relaxation of public health restrictions and the spread of novel variants fueled the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Asia. Public health surveillance indicates that shifts in policy and the spread of new variants correlate with a drastic expansion in the pandemic, requiring immediate action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Surveillance is needed to inform leaders whether policies help control the pandemic.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control/statistics & numerical data , Disease Outbreaks/statistics & numerical data , Health Policy , Public Health/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Asia/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Female , Humans , Longitudinal Studies , Male , Middle Aged , Public Health Surveillance , SARS-CoV-2
2.
N Engl J Med ; 387(21): 1935-1946, 2022 11 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2106628

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In February 2022, Massachusetts rescinded a statewide universal masking policy in public schools, and many Massachusetts school districts lifted masking requirements during the subsequent weeks. In the greater Boston area, only two school districts - the Boston and neighboring Chelsea districts - sustained masking requirements through June 2022. The staggered lifting of masking requirements provided an opportunity to examine the effect of universal masking policies on the incidence of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in schools. METHODS: We used a difference-in-differences analysis for staggered policy implementation to compare the incidence of Covid-19 among students and staff in school districts in the greater Boston area that lifted masking requirements with the incidence in districts that sustained masking requirements during the 2021-2022 school year. Characteristics of the school districts were also compared. RESULTS: Before the statewide masking policy was rescinded, trends in the incidence of Covid-19 were similar across school districts. During the 15 weeks after the statewide masking policy was rescinded, the lifting of masking requirements was associated with an additional 44.9 cases per 1000 students and staff (95% confidence interval, 32.6 to 57.1), which corresponded to an estimated 11,901 cases and to 29.4% of the cases in all districts during that time. Districts that chose to sustain masking requirements longer tended to have school buildings that were older and in worse condition and to have more students per classroom than districts that chose to lift masking requirements earlier. In addition, these districts had higher percentages of low-income students, students with disabilities, and students who were English-language learners, as well as higher percentages of Black and Latinx students and staff. Our results support universal masking as an important strategy for reducing Covid-19 incidence in schools and loss of in-person school days. As such, we believe that universal masking may be especially useful for mitigating effects of structural racism in schools, including potential deepening of educational inequities. CONCLUSIONS: Among school districts in the greater Boston area, the lifting of masking requirements was associated with an additional 44.9 Covid-19 cases per 1000 students and staff during the 15 weeks after the statewide masking policy was rescinded.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Health Policy , Masks , School Health Services , Universal Precautions , Humans , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Incidence , Poverty/statistics & numerical data , Schools/legislation & jurisprudence , Schools/statistics & numerical data , Students/legislation & jurisprudence , Students/statistics & numerical data , Health Policy/legislation & jurisprudence , Masks/statistics & numerical data , School Health Services/legislation & jurisprudence , School Health Services/statistics & numerical data , Occupational Groups/legislation & jurisprudence , Occupational Groups/statistics & numerical data , Universal Precautions/legislation & jurisprudence , Universal Precautions/statistics & numerical data , Massachusetts/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Communicable Disease Control/statistics & numerical data
7.
Sci Rep ; 11(1): 21783, 2021 11 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1758307

ABSTRACT

To reduce the spread and the effect of the COVID-19 global pandemic, non-pharmaceutical interventions have been adopted on multiple occasions by governments. In particular lockdown policies, i.e., generalized mobility restrictions, have been employed to fight the first wave of the pandemic. We analyze data reflecting mobility levels over time in Italy before, during and after the national lockdown, in order to assess some direct and indirect effects. By applying methodologies based on percolation and network science approaches, we find that the typical network characteristics, while very revealing, do not tell the whole story. In particular, the Italian mobility network during lockdown has been damaged much more than node- and edge-level metrics indicate. Additionally, many of the main Provinces of Italy are affected by the lockdown in a surprisingly similar fashion, despite their geographical and economic dissimilarity. Based on our findings we offer an approach to estimate unavailable high-resolution economic dimensions, such as real time Province-level GDP, based on easily measurable mobility information.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Physical Distancing , Algorithms , COVID-19/therapy , Geography , Humans , Italy/epidemiology , Models, Economic , Public Health Informatics , Travel
12.
Lancet Oncol ; 22(11): 1507-1517, 2021 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1505808

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Surgery is the main modality of cure for solid cancers and was prioritised to continue during COVID-19 outbreaks. This study aimed to identify immediate areas for system strengthening by comparing the delivery of elective cancer surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic in periods of lockdown versus light restriction. METHODS: This international, prospective, cohort study enrolled 20 006 adult (≥18 years) patients from 466 hospitals in 61 countries with 15 cancer types, who had a decision for curative surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic and were followed up until the point of surgery or cessation of follow-up (Aug 31, 2020). Average national Oxford COVID-19 Stringency Index scores were calculated to define the government response to COVID-19 for each patient for the period they awaited surgery, and classified into light restrictions (index <20), moderate lockdowns (20-60), and full lockdowns (>60). The primary outcome was the non-operation rate (defined as the proportion of patients who did not undergo planned surgery). Cox proportional-hazards regression models were used to explore the associations between lockdowns and non-operation. Intervals from diagnosis to surgery were compared across COVID-19 government response index groups. This study was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04384926. FINDINGS: Of eligible patients awaiting surgery, 2003 (10·0%) of 20 006 did not receive surgery after a median follow-up of 23 weeks (IQR 16-30), all of whom had a COVID-19-related reason given for non-operation. Light restrictions were associated with a 0·6% non-operation rate (26 of 4521), moderate lockdowns with a 5·5% rate (201 of 3646; adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0·81, 95% CI 0·77-0·84; p<0·0001), and full lockdowns with a 15·0% rate (1775 of 11 827; HR 0·51, 0·50-0·53; p<0·0001). In sensitivity analyses, including adjustment for SARS-CoV-2 case notification rates, moderate lockdowns (HR 0·84, 95% CI 0·80-0·88; p<0·001), and full lockdowns (0·57, 0·54-0·60; p<0·001), remained independently associated with non-operation. Surgery beyond 12 weeks from diagnosis in patients without neoadjuvant therapy increased during lockdowns (374 [9·1%] of 4521 in light restrictions, 317 [10·4%] of 3646 in moderate lockdowns, 2001 [23·8%] of 11 827 in full lockdowns), although there were no differences in resectability rates observed with longer delays. INTERPRETATION: Cancer surgery systems worldwide were fragile to lockdowns, with one in seven patients who were in regions with full lockdowns not undergoing planned surgery and experiencing longer preoperative delays. Although short-term oncological outcomes were not compromised in those selected for surgery, delays and non-operations might lead to long-term reductions in survival. During current and future periods of societal restriction, the resilience of elective surgery systems requires strengthening, which might include protected elective surgical pathways and long-term investment in surge capacity for acute care during public health emergencies to protect elective staff and services. FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research Unit, Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland, Bowel and Cancer Research, Bowel Disease Research Foundation, Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons, British Association of Surgical Oncology, British Gynaecological Cancer Society, European Society of Coloproctology, Medtronic, Sarcoma UK, The Urology Foundation, Vascular Society for Great Britain and Ireland, and Yorkshire Cancer Research.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Neoplasms/surgery , Adult , Aged , Aged, 80 and over , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Neoplasms/classification , Neoplasms/epidemiology , Outcome Assessment, Health Care , Proportional Hazards Models , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2 , Time-to-Treatment , Withholding Treatment
14.
South Med J ; 114(9): 597-602, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1478683

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) threatens vulnerable patient populations, resulting in immense pressures at the local, regional, national, and international levels to contain the virus. Laboratory-based studies demonstrate that masks may offer benefit in reducing the spread of droplet-based illnesses, but few data are available to assess mask effects via executive order on a population basis. We assess the effects of a county-wide mask order on per-population mortality, intensive care unit (ICU) utilization, and ventilator utilization in Bexar County, Texas. METHODS: We used publicly reported county-level data to perform a mixed-methods before-and-after analysis along with other sources of public data for analyses of covariance. We used a least-squares regression analysis to adjust for confounders. A Texas state-level mask order was issued on July 3, 2020, followed by a Bexar County-level order on July 15, 2020. We defined the control period as June 2 to July 2 and the postmask order period as July 8, 2020-August 12, 2020, with a 5-day gap to account for the median incubation period for cases; longer periods of 7 and 10 days were used for hospitalization and ICU admission/death, respectively. Data are reported on a per-100,000 population basis using respective US Census Bureau-reported populations. RESULTS: From June 2, 2020 through August 12, 2020, there were 40,771 reported cases of COVID-19 within Bexar County, with 470 total deaths. The average number of new cases per day within the county was 565.4 (95% confidence interval [CI] 394.6-736.2). The average number of positive hospitalized patients was 754.1 (95% CI 657.2-851.0), in the ICU was 273.1 (95% CI 238.2-308.0), and on a ventilator was 170.5 (95% CI 146.4-194.6). The average deaths per day was 6.5 (95% CI 4.4-8.6). All of the measured outcomes were higher on average in the postmask period as were covariables included in the adjusted model. When adjusting for traffic activity, total statewide caseload, public health complaints, and mean temperature, the daily caseload, hospital bed occupancy, ICU bed occupancy, ventilator occupancy, and daily mortality remained higher in the postmask period. CONCLUSIONS: There was no reduction in per-population daily mortality, hospital bed, ICU bed, or ventilator occupancy of COVID-19-positive patients attributable to the implementation of a mask-wearing mandate.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Health Resources/statistics & numerical data , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Communicable Disease Control/methods , Health Plan Implementation , Health Policy , Humans , Local Government , Masks , SARS-CoV-2 , Texas/epidemiology
16.
Int J Prison Health ; ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print)2021 10 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1447742

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: The purpose of the paper was to conduct a legal-realist assessment of the South African prison system response to COVID-19. Severely congested and ill-resourced prison systems in Africa face unprecedented challenges amplified by COVID-19. South Africa has recorded the highest COVID-19 positivity rate in Africa and, on March 15th 2020, declared a national state of disaster. The first prison system case was notified on April 6th 2020. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH: A legal-realist assessment of the South African prison system response to COVID-19 in the 12 months following initial case notification focused on the minimum State obligations to comply with human rights norms, and the extent to which human, health and occupational health rights of prisoners and staff were upheld during disaster measures. FINDINGS: A legal-realist account was developed, which revealed the indeterminate nature of application of South African COVID-19 government directives, ill-resourced COVID-19 mitigation measures, alarming occupational health and prison conditions and inadequate standards of health care in prisons when evaluated against the rule of law during State declaration of disaster. ORIGINALITY/VALUE: This legal-realist assessment is original by virtue of its unique evaluation of the South African prison system approach to tackling COVID-19. It acknowledged State efforts, policymaking processes and outcomes and how these operated within the prison system itself. By moving beyond the deleterious impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the already precarious South African prison system, the authors argue for rights assurance for those who live and work in its prisons, improved infrastructure and greater substantive equality of all deprived of their liberty in South Africa.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Communicable Disease Control/standards , Prisons/legislation & jurisprudence , Prisons/standards , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Human Rights , Humans , Prisons/organization & administration , SARS-CoV-2 , South Africa/epidemiology
17.
Sci Data ; 8(1): 253, 2021 09 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1442796

ABSTRACT

Quantifying the timing and content of policy changes affecting international travel and immigration is key to ongoing research on the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the socioeconomic impacts of border closures. The COVID Border Accountability Project (COBAP) provides a hand-coded dataset of >1000 policies systematized to reflect a complete timeline of country-level restrictions on movement across international borders during 2020. Trained research assistants used pre-set definitions to source, categorize and verify for each new border policy: start and end dates, whether the closure is "complete" or "partial", which exceptions are made, which countries are banned, and which air/land/sea borders were closed. COBAP verified the database through internal and external audits from public health experts. For purposes of further verification and future data mining efforts of pandemic research, the full text of each policy was archived. The structure of the COBAP dataset is designed for use by social and biomedical scientists. For broad accessibility to policymakers and the public, our website depicts the data in an interactive, user-friendly, time-based map.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Pandemics/prevention & control , Travel/legislation & jurisprudence , COVID-19/epidemiology , Health Policy , Humans , Internationality , Social Responsibility
18.
Med Law Rev ; 29(3): 468-496, 2021 Oct 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1437837

ABSTRACT

Beginning from the first reports of COVID-19 out of China, this article provides a commentary on the actions taken by the Government of New Zealand in terms of nine themes-a national response with an elimination goal, speed, and comprehensiveness of the initial response; an evidence-based, science-led approach, prioritised on protecting lives; effective communication; leadership style which appealed to collective responsibility and attempted to de-politicise the Government's response to the virus; flexibility of response characterised by 'learning as you go'; oversight of coercive state powers, including a pragmatic response which attempted to defuse conflict and reserved use of 'hard power' to a last resort; deployment of public health interventions, and health system adaptations; the impact on Maori and marginalised communities; and economic protection and stimulus-to identify factors that might help explain why New Zealand's pandemic response was successful and those which could have been managed better. The partially successful legal challenge brought to the four-and-a half week lockdown, the most stringent in the world, in Borrowdale v Director-General of Health, is also considered.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Communicable Disease Control/organization & administration , Government , Health Policy , Public Health/legislation & jurisprudence , Communication , Humans , Leadership , New Zealand/epidemiology , Politics , SARS-CoV-2
19.
PLoS One ; 16(9): e0254432, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1398928

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Community engagement (CE) is an effective public health strategy for improving health outcomes. There is limited published knowledge about effective approaches to CE in ensuring effective responses to COVID-19 throughout lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing. In this paper, we contribute to bridging this gap by highlighting experience of CE in Vietnam, specifically focusing on migrant workers in Vietnam. METHODS: A cross-sectional qualitative study design was used with qualitative data collection was carried out during August-October 2020. Two districts were purposefully selected from two large industrial zones. Data was collected using in-depth interviews (n = 36) with individuals and households, migrants and owners of dormitories, industrial zone factory representatives, community representatives and health authorities. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis approach. The study received ethics approval from the Hanoi University Institutional Review Board. RESULTS: The government's response to COVID-19 was spearheaded by the multi-sectoral National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19, chaired by the Vice Prime Minister and comprised different members from 23 ministries. This structure was replicated throughout the province and local levels and all public and private organizations. Different activities were carried out by local communities, following four key principles of infection control: early detection, isolation, quarantine and hospitalization. We found three key determinants of engagement of migrant workers with COVID-19 prevention and control: availability of resources, appropriate capacity strengthening, transparent and continuous communication and a sense of trust in government legitimacy. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: Our results support the current literature on CE in infection control which highlights the importance of context and suggests that future CE should consider five key components: multi-sectoral collaboration with a whole-of-community approach to strengthen governance structures with context-specific partnerships; mobilization of resources and decentralization of decision making to encourage self-reliance and building of local capacity; capacity building through training and supervision to local institutions; transparent and clear communication of health risks and sensitization of local communities to improve compliance and foster trust in the government measures; and understanding the urgent needs ensuring of social security and engaging all parts of the community, specifically the vulnerable groups.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Communicable Disease Control/legislation & jurisprudence , Community Participation/legislation & jurisprudence , Adult , Capacity Building/legislation & jurisprudence , Communication , Cross-Sectional Studies , Data Collection/legislation & jurisprudence , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Public Health/legislation & jurisprudence , Quarantine/legislation & jurisprudence , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Trust , Vietnam , Young Adult
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