J Epidemiol Glob Health

. 2023 Aug 3.
doi: 10.1007/s44197-023-00134-z. Online ahead of print. Changes in Influenza Activities Impacted by NPI Based on 4-Year Surveillance in China: Epidemic Patterns and Trends

Jing Tan 1 2 , Lijun Liang 1 , Ping Huang 3 4 , Abrar A Ibrahim 1 2 , Zhongzhou Huang 2 5 , Wei Zhao 2 , Lirong Zou 1


Background: Since the Non-pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI) by COVID-19 emerged, influenza activity has been somewhat altered.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore changes in influenza activities in the context of COVID-19 based on the sentinel hospitals/units in Guangdong, southern China.
Methods: The surveillance data in influenza-like illness (ILI) were collected from 21 cities in Guangdong between September 2017 and August 2021, while 43 hospitals/units were selected to analyze the predominant types of influenza, population characteristics, and seasonal features by three methods (the concentration ratio, the seasonal index, and the circulation distribution), based on a descriptive epidemiological approach.
Results: During the four consecutive influenza seasons, a total of 157345 ILIs were tested, of which 9.05% were positive for influenza virus (n = 14238), with the highest positive rates for both IAV (13.20%) and IBV (5.41%) in the 2018-2019 season. After the emergence of COVID-19, influenza cases decreased near to zero from March 2020 till March 2021, and the dominant type of influenza virus changed from IAV to IBV. The highest positive rate of influenza existed in the age-group of 5 ~ < 15 years in each season for IAV (P < 0.001), which was consistent with that for IBV (P < 0.001). The highest annual positive rates for IBV emerged in eastern Guangdong, while the highest annual positive rates of IAV in different seasons existed in different regions. Furthermore, compared with the epidemic period (ranged from December to June) during 2017-2019, the period ended three months early (March 2020) in 2019-2020, and started by five months behind (April 2021) during 2020-2021.
Conclusion: The highest positive rates in 5 ~ < 15 age-group suggested the susceptible in this age-group mostly had infected with infected B/Victoria. Influenced by the emergence of COVID-19 and NPI responses, the epidemic patterns and trends of influenza activities have changed in Guangdong, 2017-2021.

Keywords: Circular Distribution; Concentration Ratio; Influenza; Non-pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI); Seasonal Index; Seasonal characteristics.