UBC Graduate Research

Respiratory virus surveillance in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic : An epidemiological analysis of the effectiveness of pandemic-related public health measures in reducing seasonal respiratory viruses test positivity Park, Kyu Young; Seo, Sumin; Han, Junhee; Park, Ji Young

Abstract

Background Various public health measures have been implemented globally to counter the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The purpose of this study was to evaluate respiratory virus surveillance data to determine the effectiveness of such interventions in reducing transmission of seasonal respiratory viruses. Method We retrospectively analysed data from the Respiratory Virus Detection Surveillance System in Canada, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, by interrupted time series regression. Results The national level of infection with seasonal respiratory viruses, which generally does not necessitate quarantine or contact screening, was greatly reduced after Canada imposed physical distancing and other quarantine measures. The 2019–2020 influenza season ended earlier than it did in the previous year. The influenza virus was replaced by rhinovirus/ enterovirus or parainfluenza virus in the previous year, with the overall test positivity remaining at approximately 35%. However, during the 2019–2020 post-influenza period, the overall test positivity of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 was still low (7.2%). Moreover, the 2020–2021 influenza season had not occurred by the end of February 2021. Conclusion Respiratory virus surveillance data may provide real-world evidence of the effectiveness of implemented public health interventions during the current and future pandemics.

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Attribution 4.0 International