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At the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 infection predominantly affected younger ages and males, mainly coming from Asia, among the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) registered population according to a recent study published.
At the primary healthcare level, the COVID-19 infection rate was higher among those who presented with clinical symptoms, according to the study ‘Understanding the epidemiological characteristics of the primary healthcare corporation-based COVID-19 swabbed persons in Qatar, 2020.’
With national preventive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 was implemented, a testing plan was developed to respond to the pandemic with PHCC as the central element. At the primary healthcare level in Qatar, the study describes the epidemiological characteristics of individuals registered at PHCC who had contracted COVID-19 during the first wave before the vaccination phase and examines the factors associated with the positivity rate.
It has found that Asians were at higher risk of getting COVID-19 infection than those originally from the Middle East and North Africa. And COVID-19 infection was higher among those presenting clinical symptoms than asymptomatic individuals.
The study, published this week on Qatar Medical Journal, revealed that the lowest positivity rate among individuals below 60 years may reflect the effectiveness of public health measures related to the high-risk group.
“Scaled-up testing at the primary healthcare level helped to detect more cases during the peak of the first wave and was reflected in a steady increase in the positivity rate flattened later due to the established public health measures,” it added.
In the study, retrospective data analysis was conducted for persons screened for SARS-CoV-2 in primary healthcare health centers in Qatar between March 11 and December 31, 2020. The study analysed the demographic characteristics of the tested persons and noncommunicable disease burden, positivity rate by month, nationality, and age-group, and the factors associated with the positivity rate.
A total of 379,204 persons with 48.2% females and 51.8% males, were tested for COVID-19 at the PHCC health centers, with a median age of 32 (21–42) years.
Around 48.2% of those tested persons were in the age-group of 19–39 years, followed by 24.0% and 21.8% of them falling into the age-group of 40–59 years and 0–18 years, respectively.
Of the tested persons for COVID-19, 57.0% were originally from the Middle East and North Africa, followed by 32.5% originally from Asia.
Among them 13.9% tested positive for COVID-19 were from Asia, and 11.1% Middle Eastern and North African and 10.0% were African. Also the study says Asian males had the highest COVID-19 positive rate at 15.7%.
The study also said that COVID-19 positive rate (18.3%) was the highest among persons who presented with clinical symptoms of influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infection.