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Sentinel Surveillance Can Help Monitor Epidemiology of COVID-19

Community mitigation strategies initiated based on sentinel surveillance data, cases with no known source

MONDAY, April 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Rapid sentinel surveillance can help monitor the epidemiology of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), according to research published in the April 3 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Marissa L. Zwald, Ph.D., from the Santa Clara County COVID-19 Response Field Team of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues examined the extent of COVID-19 in the community using sentinel surveillance in Santa Clara County. Four urgent care sites participated as sentinel sites during March 5 to 14, 2020. County residents evaluated for respiratory symptoms who had no known risk for COVID-19 were identified at these sentinel sites. A sample of specimens that tested negative for influenza was tested for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA.

The researchers found that 23 percent of the 226 patients who met the inclusion criteria had positive test results for influenza. Seventy-nine specimens with negative test results for influenza were tested for SARS-CoV-2, and 11 percent of these (nine samples) had evidence of infection. As a result of these data and an increasing number of cases with no known transmission source, a series of community mitigation strategies were initiated.

"Local public health departments can use sentinel surveillance to assess the level of community transmission of COVID-19 and to better guide the selection and implementation of community mitigation measures, including the scale, timing, duration, and settings in which to focus these strategies," the authors write.

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