COVID-19: Were public health interventions and the disclosure of patients’ contact history effective in upholding social distancing? Evidence from South Korea

Jongho Im, Jewoo Kim, Joon Yeon Choeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted a global- scale public health response. Social distancing, along with intensive testing and contact tracing, has been considered an effective vehicle to reduce new infections. In this study, we aimed to estimate the effect of South Korean public health measures on behavioral changes with respect to social distancing without a nationwide lockdown. The results of this study may provide insights to countries who are planning to relax their aggressive restrictions though still having an unflattened curve of infections. Methods: To estimate how the closure of educational and social welfare facilities and the disclosure of confirmed patients’ contact history affected social distancing behaviors, we analyzed public transportation data in Seoul, Korea. For the modeling analysis, we used linear mixed-effects estimation. Results: Our estimation showed that the average daily number of bus passengers decreased by 21.8% in February 2020 as compared to the previous year with an additional decrease observed in the areas around educational and social welfare facilities. The highest drop in the daily number of passengers was observed in areas with religious facilities. We also found that individuals avoided areas that were proximate to or within the locations that constituted the confirmed patients’ contact history. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that public health measures can lead people to practice social distancing. Among them, the measures that strongly encourage voluntary social distancing behaviors would play a critical role in suppressing the infections as it becomes increasingly difficult to continue imposing aggressive restrictions due to practical and economic reasons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-712
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Im et al.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Nursing

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