[The BMJ] Monitoring respiratory infections in covid-19 epidemics

The BMJ, 4 May 2020

Ka Hung Chan, Pak-wing Lee, Crystal Ying Chan, Kin Bong Hubert Lam, Pak-leung Ho

Comparing the Hong Kong winter influenza season in 2020 with those in 2015 to 2019


  • Compartmental modelling studies on COVID-19 should not be relied on as the only approach for monitoring the pandemic or assessing the effectiveness of infection control measures.
  • Simple and rapid assessment of influenza-like illness using widely available surveillance data could be a cost effective and complementary approach to compartmental modelling.
  • The potential confounding due to changes in behaviours of patients and healthcare providers must be carefully considered.
  • The proposed methods will be particularly useful for countries in which testing capacity for COVID-19 and expertise in infectious disease modelling are limited.
  • The timely, stringent, and community-wide epidemic response in Hong Kong seemed to effectively control local outbreaks of COVID-19 as well as the underlying transmission of influenza and other respiratory infections.

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