بخشی از مقاله (انگلیسی)
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has promoted stringent public health measures such as hand hygiene, face mask wearing, and physical distancing to contain the spread of the viral infection. In this retrospective study, the secondary outcomes of those public health measures on containing other respiratory infections among the Thai population were investigated. Hospitalization data spanning from 2016 to 2021 of six respiratory infectious diseases, namely influenza, measles, pertussis, pneumonia, scarlet fever, and tuberculosis (TB), were examined. First, the expected respiratory infectious cases where no public health measures are in place are estimated using the seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average (SARIMA) model. Then the expected number of cases and the observed cases were compared. The results showed a significant drop in the incidence of respiratory infectious diseases by an average of 61%. The reduction in hospitalization is significant for influenza, measles, pertussis, pneumonia, and scarlet fever (p < 0.05), while insignificant for TB (p = 0.54). The notable decrease in the incidence of cases is ascribed to the implementation of public health measures that minimized the opportunity for spread of disease. This decline in cases following relaxation of pandemic countermeasure is contingent on its scope and nature, and it is proof that selective physical distancing, hand hygiene, and use of face masks in public places is a viable route for mitigating respiratory morbidities.
Since the declaration of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as a pandemic by the representatives of WHO on March 11, 2020, various countries globally have adopted an array of mostly similar measures to contain its spread. Some of the precautionary measures encouraged and implemented included hand hygiene, use of face masks, varying degrees of lockdown measures (e.g., closures of schools and businesses, travel restrictions, and the issue of stay-at-home orders and/or work from home, etc.) and physical distancing measures such as forbidding large gatherings [1–4]. A systematic review of the effectiveness of public health measures and non-pharmaceutical interventions confirms their importance in curbing the rates of infection and mortality linked to the COVID-19 pandemic . The ancillary benefits of these preventive measures have been reported to lead to substantial decreases in respiratory diseases like influenza with overlapping transmission dynamics [6,7]. A study from South Korea reported an overall decline in the mean positivity rate for several respiratory viruses from 54.7% in 2010–2019 to 39.1% in 2020 .
Public health measures implemented due to the spread of the COVID19 pandemic were associated with a significant reduction in other respiratory infectious diseases among Thais. A 61% average decrease was observed under the imposition of public health measures due to COVID19 compared with estimates in the absence of these measures. The percentage decrease in the incidence of respiratory infectious diseases in the presence of public health measures as opposed to its absence are 93%, 90%, 79%, 50%, 34%, and 8% for measles, influenza, scarlet fever, pertussis, pneumonia, and TB, respectively. A multiple of factors led to a decline in the reported incidence of respiratory infectious diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic. More challenging to the observed trend following the implementation of public health measures, is untangling the contribution of each of these interventions. A valuable lesson to be learned from the pandemic is the embrace of non-pharmaceutical interventions to curtail the spread of respiratory disease seasonal regulars like the flu. It is also safe to assume that a reduction in hospital admissions or reports does not necessarily equate to a decrease in circulating respiratory disease agents. However, the proactive awareness campaigns by government agencies and compliance of the public to with these rules has greatly limited the transmission of the diseases. Moreover, the effect of public health measures varies among the disease types. Therefore, further work is inevitable to identify those measures that have a greater impact on each disease’s transmission.