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Differentiating Impacts of Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions on Non-Coronavirus-Disease-2019 Respiratory Viral Infections: Hospital-Based Retrospective Observational Study in Taiwan
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  • Po-Liang Chen,
  • Isaac Yen-Hao Chu,
  • Mei-Lin Yeh,
  • Yin-Yin Chen,
  • Chia-Lin Lee,
  • Hsiao-Hsuan Lin,
  • Yu-Jiun Chan,
  • Hsin-Pai Chen
Po-Liang Chen
Taipei Veterans General Hospital
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Isaac Yen-Hao Chu
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Department of Public Health Environments and Society
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Mei-Lin Yeh
Taipei Veterans General Hospital
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Yin-Yin Chen
Taipei Veterans General Hospital Department of Infection Control
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Chia-Lin Lee
Taipei Veterans General Hospital Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Department
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Hsiao-Hsuan Lin
Taipei Veterans General Hospital Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Department
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Yu-Jiun Chan
Taipei Veterans General Hospital Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Department
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Hsin-Pai Chen
Taipei Veterans General Hospital
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Abstract

Background Physical distancing and facemask use are worldwide recognized as effective non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Since January 2020, Taiwan has introduced both NPIs but their effectiveness on non-COVID-19 respiratory viruses (NCRVs) remain underexplored. Methods This retrospective observational study examined electronic records at a tertiary hospital in northern Taiwan from pre-COVID (January–December 2019) to post-COVID period (January–May 2020). Patients with respiratory syndromes were tested for both enveloped (e.g. influenza virus and seasonal coronavirus) and non-enveloped RVs (e.g. enterovirus and rhinovirus) using multiplex reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction assays. Monthly positivity rates of NCRVs among adult and pediatric patients were analyzed with comparison between pre- and post-COVID periods. Results A total of 9693 patients underwent 12127 multiplex RT-PCR tests. The average positivity rate of NCRVs reduced by 11.2% (25.6% to 14.4%) after nationwide PHIs. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the most commonly identified enveloped and non-enveloped viruses were influenza virus and enterovirus/rhinovirus, respectively. Observed reduction in NCRV incidence was predominantly contributed by enveloped NCRVs including influenza viruses. We did not observe epidemiological impacts of NPIs on non-enveloped viruses but an increasing trend in enterovirus/rhinovirus test positivity rate among pediatric patients. Our data were validated using Taiwan’s national notification database. Conclusions Our frontline investigation suggests that the current NPIs in Taiwan might not effectively control the transmission of non-enveloped respiratory viruses, despite their protective effects against influenza and seasonal coronavirus. Hydrogen peroxide or chloride-based disinfectants should be integrated into national preventative strategies against respiratory viral infections in the post-COVID-19 era.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

21 Dec 2020Submitted to Influenza and other respiratory viruses
21 Dec 2020Assigned to Editor
21 Dec 2020Submission Checks Completed
17 Feb 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
16 Mar 20211st Revision Received
17 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
17 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
28 Mar 2021Editorial Decision: Accept