J Korean Ophthalmol Soc.  2022 Feb;63(2):126-133. 10.3341/jkos.2022.63.2.126.

Impact of Social Distancing and Personal Hygiene on the Prevalence of Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Affiliations
  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Daegu, Korea
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea
  • 3Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea

Abstract

Purpose
To analyze the change in the weekly incidence of epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) per 1,000 outpatients during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by comparing the mean weekly proportion of EKC of 2020 with that from 2016 to 2019.
Methods
Using data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency for 2016-2020, we analyzed the weekly proportion of EKC per 1,000 outpatients. The data were also analyzed according to age, semester and vacation periods, region, and social distancing stages. For the Daegu data, we also analyzed the effects of social distancing in an area.
Results
The mean weekly proportion of EKC per 1,000 outpatients in 2020 was lower than in previous years for all ages (2016-2019 19.77 ± 7.17‰, 2020 7.28 ± 2.97‰; p < 0.001). During the semester, the mean difference between 2016-2019 and 2020 was significant, particularly for preschool children. In Daegu, the weekly proportion of EKC per 1,000 outpatients during the extra 12-18 weeks of social distancing was significantly lower (2016-2019, 18.78 ± 6.61‰; 2020, 8.94 ± 2.92‰; p < 0.001).
Conclusions
The public health interventions implemented during the COVID-19 outbreak not only reduced the prevalence of COVID-19 but also reduced the prevalence of EKC. Therefore, maintaining hygiene principles and standard precautions may help prevent EKC.

Keyword

Coronavirus disease 2019; Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis; Personal hygiene; Social distancing
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