Impact of COVID-19 on TB epidemiology in South Korea

H. Choi, Y. Ko, C. Y. Lee, S. J. Chung, H. I. Kim, J. H. Kim, S. Park, Y. I. Hwang, S. H. Jang, K. S. Jung, Y. K. Kim, J. Y. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

SETTING: Five referral hospitals, South Korea. OBJECTIVE: To assess epidemiological changes in TB before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. DESIGN: This was a multicentre cohort study of 3,969 patients diagnosed with TB. RESULTS: We analysed 3,453 patients diagnosed with TB prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (January 2016-February 2020) and 516 during the pandemic (March-November 2020). During the pandemic, the number of patients visits declined by 15% from the previous 4-year average, and the number of patients diagnosed with TB decreased by 17%. Patients diagnosed during the pandemic were older than those diagnosed before the pandemic (mean age, 60.2 vs. 56.6 years, P, 0.001). The proportion of patients to have primary TB at a younger age (births after 1980) among those diagnosed with TB was significantly lower during the pandemic than before (17.8% in 2020 vs. 23.5% in 2016, 24.0% in 2017, 22.5% in 2018, 23.5% in 2019; P ¼ 0.005). CONCLUSIONS: The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a reduction in the number of visits to respiratory departments, leading to fewer patients being diagnosed with TB. However, our results suggest that universal personal preventive measures help to suppress TB transmission in regions with intermediate TB burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)854-860
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease
Volume25
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Epidemiology
  • Transmission
  • Tuberculosis

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