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Epidemiol Infect . Spatial distribution of SARS-CoV-2 infection in schools, South Korea

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  • Epidemiol Infect . Spatial distribution of SARS-CoV-2 infection in schools, South Korea

    Epidemiol Infect

    . 2022 Nov 8;150:e194.
    doi: 10.1017/S095026882200173X.
    Spatial distribution of SARS-CoV-2 infection in schools, South Korea

    Young Hwa Lee 1 , Young June Choe 2 , Hyunju Lee 3 , Eun Hwa Choi 3 , Young-Joon Park 4 , Hyun Joo Jeong 5 , Myoungyoun Jo 5 , Heegwon Jeong 6



    Identification of geographical areas with high burden of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission in schools using spatial analyses has become an important tool to guide targeted interventions in educational setting. In this study, we aimed to explore the spatial distribution and determinants of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among students aged 3-18 years in South Korea. We analysed the nationwide epidemiological data on laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in schools and in the communities between January 2020 and October 2021 in South Korea. To explore the spatial distribution, the global Moran's I and Getis-Ord's G using incidence rates among the districts of aged 3-18 years and 30-59 years. Spatial regression analysis was performed to find sociodemographic predictors of the COVID-19 attack rate in schools and in the communities. The global spatial correlation estimated by Moran's I was 0.647 for the community population and 0.350 for the student population, suggesting that the students were spatially less correlated than the community-level outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. In schools, attack rate of adults aged 30-59 years in the community was associated with increased risk of transmission (P < 0.0001). Number of students per class (in kindergartens, primary schools, middle schools and high schools) did not show significant association with the school transmission of SARS-CoV-2. In South Korea, COVID-19 in students had spatial variations across the country. Statistically significant high hotspots of SARS-CoV-2 transmission among students were found in the capital area, with dense population level and high COVID-19 burden among adults aged 30-59 years. Our finding suggests that controlling community-level burden of COVID-19 can help in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in school-aged children.

    Keywords: COVID-19; South Korea; risk factors; spatial.