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1.
BMC Infect Dis ; 22(1): 839, 2022 Nov 11.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2119352

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Differences in the genetic material of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) variants may result in altered virulence characteristics. Assessing the disease severity caused by newly emerging variants is essential to estimate their impact on public health. However, causally inferring the intrinsic severity of infection with variants using observational data is a challenging process on which guidance is still limited. We describe potential limitations and biases that researchers are confronted with and evaluate different methodological approaches to study the severity of infection with SARS-CoV-2 variants. METHODS: We reviewed the literature to identify limitations and potential biases in methods used to study the severity of infection with a particular variant. The impact of different methodological choices is illustrated by using real-world data of Belgian hospitalized COVID-19 patients. RESULTS: We observed different ways of defining coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease severity (e.g., admission to the hospital or intensive care unit versus the occurrence of severe complications or death) and exposure to a variant (e.g., linkage of the sequencing or genotyping result with the patient data through a unique identifier versus categorization of patients based on time periods). Different potential selection biases (e.g., overcontrol bias, endogenous selection bias, sample truncation bias) and factors fluctuating over time (e.g., medical expertise and therapeutic strategies, vaccination coverage and natural immunity, pressure on the healthcare system, affected population groups) according to the successive waves of COVID-19, dominated by different variants, were identified. Using data of Belgian hospitalized COVID-19 patients, we were able to document (i) the robustness of the analyses when using different variant exposure ascertainment methods, (ii) indications of the presence of selection bias and (iii) how important confounding variables are fluctuating over time. CONCLUSIONS: When estimating the unbiased marginal effect of SARS-CoV-2 variants on the severity of infection, different strategies can be used and different assumptions can be made, potentially leading to different conclusions. We propose four best practices to identify and reduce potential bias introduced by the study design, the data analysis approach, and the features of the underlying surveillance strategies and data infrastructure.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , COVID-19/epidemiology , Belgium/epidemiology , Intensive Care Units
2.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(21)2022 Nov 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2099528

ABSTRACT

While the COVID-19 pandemic has created psychological distress in the general population and increased the need for psychological care, little research has been done on how mental health practitioners (MHP) have been affected by the pandemic, and these health professionals have received little attention from public authorities. In this article, we focus on psychologists and the impact that the pandemic has had on their mental health and practices by exploring the adaptive and innovative responses generated. This study is based on an online survey (including multiple choice questions, several validated scales, and eight free text items) completed by 187 psychologists (86% female) one year after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium (February-April 2021). Most participants considered that the crisis had an impact on their well-being and mental health. However, the prevalence of symptoms of depression and anxiety was relatively low (17%; 12%). On the other hand, the majority of psychologists (72%) suffered from a medium level of burnout (BO), 7% suffered from a high level of BO, and only 21% had low levels of BO. Psychologists working in face-to-face settings had the highest scores on the "exhaustion" subscale of the BO, and those working primarily with patients in precarious situations had significantly higher scores of BO and exhaustion. Qualitative analysis of free text items showed that MHP were resilience and developed new frameworks and modes for proactive interventions in order to reach their patients, meet the psychological and social population's needs, and maintain their relationships with the network. In a crisis or pandemic context, public policies should take into account the psychological and social needs of the most socially precarious populations in reinforcing and supporting mental health professionals working in this sector.


Subject(s)
Burnout, Professional , COVID-19 , Humans , Female , Male , COVID-19/epidemiology , Pandemics , Mental Health , SARS-CoV-2 , Belgium/epidemiology , Burnout, Professional/epidemiology , Burnout, Professional/psychology , Anxiety/epidemiology , Depression/epidemiology
4.
Viruses ; 14(11)2022 Oct 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2090357

ABSTRACT

In the SCOPE study, we monitored SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in a national sample of residents and staff from Belgian nursing homes. Here, we report the seroprevalence among infected and infection-naive residents and staff after the primary COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Among 1554 vaccinated nursing home residents and 1082 vaccinated staff from 69 nursing homes in Belgium, we assessed the proportion having SARS-CoV-2 antibodies approximately two (April 2021), four (June 2021), and six months (August 2021) after a two-dose regimen of the BNT162b2 vaccine. We measured the seroprevalence using SARS-CoV-2 antibody rapid tests and collected socio-demographic and COVID-19 medical data using an online questionnaire. Two months after vaccination (baseline), we found a seroprevalence of 91% (95% CI: 89-93) among vaccinated residents and 99% (95% CI: 98-99) among vaccinated staff. Six months after vaccination, the seroprevalence significantly decreased to 68% (95% CI: 64-72) among residents and to 89% (95% CI; 86-91) among staff (p < 0.001). The seroprevalence was more likely to decrease among infection-naive residents, older residents, or residents with a high care dependency level. These findings emphasize the need for close monitoring of nursing home residents, as a substantial part of this population fails to mount a persistent antibody response after BNT162b2 vaccination.


Subject(s)
BNT162 Vaccine , COVID-19 , Humans , Belgium/epidemiology , SARS-CoV-2 , Prevalence , Seroepidemiologic Studies , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Prospective Studies , Immunization Programs , Antibodies, Viral , Nursing Homes , Vaccination
5.
PLoS One ; 17(8): e0273932, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2089399

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In the spring of 2020, Belgian authorities enforced a full lockdown period to contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This lockdown drastically disrupted the daily life of autistic individuals' and that of their families. In the midst of these extraordinary circumstances, we assessed the impact of social restrictions on autistic individuals' behavior and their parents' or caregivers' quality of life; we also sought to identify individual characteristics that may influence such changes. METHODS: We designed an online survey targeting caregivers living with an autistic child or adult. The questionnaire included 125 five-point Likert questions which targeted changes in families' quality of life and in autistic individuals' behavior, as well as factors likely to influence the extent and direction of these changes. RESULTS: We collected data from 209 French-speaking Belgian respondents. Respondents reported that the lockdown brought about a higher frequency of nonfunctional socio-communicative behaviors, as well as a decrease in families' quality of life. Parents who had less access to respite care experienced a steeper decrease in their quality of life. Autistic individuals with comorbidities, and whose parents had less access to respite care and implemented fewer rules at home during lockdown were more likely to display nonfunctional socio-communicative behaviors. CONCLUSION: COVID-19 lockdown restrictions had a negative impact on both autistic individuals and their parents.


Subject(s)
Autistic Disorder , COVID-19 , Adult , Autistic Disorder/epidemiology , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Child , Communicable Disease Control , Humans , Parents , Quality of Life , SARS-CoV-2
6.
Viruses ; 14(10)2022 10 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2081913

ABSTRACT

An adequate SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance strategy has proven to be essential for countries to obtain a thorough understanding of the variants and lineages being imported and successfully established within their borders. During 2020, genomic surveillance in Belgium was not structurally implemented but performed by individual research laboratories that had to acquire the necessary funds themselves to perform this important task. At the start of 2021, a nationwide genomic surveillance consortium was established in Belgium to markedly increase the country's genomic sequencing efforts (both in terms of intensity and representativeness), to perform quality control among participating laboratories, and to enable coordination and collaboration of research projects and publications. We here discuss the genomic surveillance efforts in Belgium before and after the establishment of its genomic sequencing consortium, provide an overview of the specifics of the consortium, and explore more details regarding the scientific studies that have been published as a result of the increased number of Belgian SARS-CoV-2 genomes that have become available.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Pandemics , Humans , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Genome, Viral , Genomics , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
7.
Viruses ; 14(10)2022 10 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2066558

ABSTRACT

Schools have been a point of attention during the pandemic, and their closure one of the mitigating measures taken. A better understanding of the dynamics of the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in elementary education is essential to advise decisionmakers. We conducted an uncontrolled non-interventional prospective study in Belgian French-speaking schools to describe the role of attending asymptomatic children and school staff in the spread of COVID-19 and to estimate the transmission to others. Each participant from selected schools was tested for SARS-CoV-2 using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis on saliva sample, on a weekly basis, during six consecutive visits. In accordance with recommendations in force at the time, symptomatic individuals were excluded from school, but per the study protocol, being that participants were blinded to PCR results, asymptomatic participants were maintained at school. Among 11 selected schools, 932 pupils and 242 school staff were included between January and May 2021. Overall, 6449 saliva samples were collected, of which 44 came back positive. Most positive samples came from isolated cases. We observed that asymptomatic positive children remaining at school did not lead to increasing numbers of cases or clusters. However, we conducted our study during a period of low prevalence in Belgium. It would be interesting to conduct the same analysis during a high prevalence period.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Child , Humans , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Pilot Projects , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Prospective Studies , Schools
8.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(19)2022 Sep 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2065977

ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed tremendous challenges to healthcare systems. Care for oncology patients, a vulnerable population during the pandemic, was disrupted and drastically changed. A multicenter qualitative study was conducted in 11 Belgian hospitals with the aim to provide an overview of the most important changes that were made in the care of oncology patients in Belgium. In each hospital, a nurse or physician was interviewed by telephone. Two rounds of structured interviews-during the first and second waves of the pandemic-were conducted. The data were analyzed using content analysis. The impact of COVID-19 on care practices for patients with cancer was enormous during the first wave. Major changes, including good but also less patient-centered practices, were implemented with unprecedented speed. After the initial wave, regular care was resumed and only limited new care practices were maintained. In only a few hospitals, healthcare teams reflected on lessons learned and on the maintenance of good practices that came from the COVID-19 experience. As a result, opportunities for healthcare innovation and quality improvement seemed to be missed. Our recommendations aim to support policymakers, hospital managers, and healthcare professionals to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and to drive patient-centered initiatives in future cancer care.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Neoplasms , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care , Humans , Neoplasms/epidemiology , Neoplasms/therapy , Pandemics
9.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 1699, 2022 09 07.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2038700

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable mortality and morbidity worldwide, with the European Region having the highest prevalence of tobacco smoking among adults compared to other WHO regions. The Belgian Health Interview Survey (BHIS) provides a reliable source of national and regional estimates of smoking prevalence; however, currently there are no estimates at a smaller geographical resolution such as the municipality scale in Belgium. This hinders the estimation of the spatial distribution of smoking attributable mortality at small geographical scale (i.e., number of deaths that can be attributed to tobacco). The objective of this study was to obtain estimates of smoking prevalence in each Belgian municipality using BHIS and calculate smoking attributable mortality at municipality level. METHODS: Data of participants aged 15 + on smoking behavior, age, gender, educational level and municipality of residence were obtained from the BHIS 2018. A Bayesian hierarchical Besag-York-Mollie (BYM) model was used to model the logit transformation of the design-based Horvitz-Thompson direct prevalence estimates. Municipality-level variables obtained from Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, were used as auxiliary variables in the model. Model parameters were estimated using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation (INLA). Deviance Information Criterion (DIC) and Conditional Predictive Ordinate (CPO) were computed to assess model fit. Population attributable fractions (PAF) were computed using the estimated prevalence of smoking in each of the 589 Belgian municipalities and relative risks obtained from published meta-analyses. Smoking attributable mortality was calculated by multiplying PAF with age-gender standardized and stratified number of deaths in each municipality. RESULTS: BHIS 2018 data included 7,829 respondents from 154 municipalities. Smoothed estimates for current smoking ranged between 11% [Credible Interval 3;23] and 27% [21;34] per municipality, and for former smoking between 4% [0;14] and 34% [21;47]. Estimates of smoking attributable mortality constituted between 10% [7;15] and 47% [34;59] of total number of deaths per municipality. CONCLUSIONS: Within-country variation in smoking and smoking attributable mortality was observed. Computed estimates should inform local public health prevention campaigns as well as contribute to explaining the regional differences in mortality.


Subject(s)
Smoking , Tobacco Smoking , Adult , Bayes Theorem , Belgium/epidemiology , Cities , Humans , Smoking/epidemiology
10.
BMJ Open ; 12(9): e065897, 2022 09 19.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2038324

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence, incidence and longevity of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 among primary healthcare providers (PHCPs). DESIGN: Prospective cohort study with 12 months of follow-up. SETTING: Primary care in Belgium. PARTICIPANTS: Any general practitioner (GP) working in primary care in Belgium and any other PHCP from the same GP practice who physically manages (examines, tests, treats) patients were eligible. A convenience sample of 3648 eligible PHCPs from 2001 GP practices registered for this study (3044 and 604 to start in December 2020 and January 2021, respectively). 3390 PHCPs (92,9%) participated in their first testing time point (2820 and 565, respectively) and 2557 PHCPs (70,1%) in the last testing time point (December 2021). INTERVENTIONS: Participants were asked to perform a rapid serological test targeting IgM and IgG against the receptor binding domain of SARS-CoV-2 and to complete an online questionnaire at each of maximum eight testing time points. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: The prevalence, incidence and longevity of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 both after natural infection and after vaccination. RESULTS: Among all participants, 67% were women and 77% GPs. Median age was 43 years. The seroprevalence in December 2020 (before vaccination availability) was 15.1% (95% CI 13.5% to 16.6%), increased to 84.2% (95% CI 82.9% to 85.5%) in March 2021 (after vaccination availability) and reached 93.9% (95% CI 92.9% to 94.9%) in December 2021 (during booster vaccination availability and fourth (delta variant dominant) COVID-19 wave). Among not (yet) vaccinated participants the first monthly incidence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 was estimated to be 2.91% (95% CI 1.80% to 4.01%). The longevity of antibodies is higher in PHCPs with self-reported COVID-19 infection. CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that occupational health measures provided sufficient protection when managing patients. High uptake of vaccination resulted in high seroprevalence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in PHCPs in Belgium. Longevity of antibodies was supported by booster vaccination and virus circulation. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT04779424.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Adult , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Female , Follow-Up Studies , Health Personnel , Humans , Immunoglobulin G , Immunoglobulin M , Incidence , Male , Prevalence , Prospective Studies , Seroepidemiologic Studies
11.
J Infect Chemother ; 28(11): 1489-1493, 2022 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2036254

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as a global health problem, associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 or with seasonal influenza in a teaching hospital in Belgium. METHODS: In this retrospective, single-center cohort study, 1384 patients with COVID-19 and 226 patients with influenza were matched using a propensity score with a ratio of 3:1. Primary outcomes included admission to intensive care unit (ICU), intubation rates, hospital length of stay, readmissions within 30 days and in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes included pulmonary bacterial superinfection, cardiovascular complications and ECMO. RESULTS: Based on the analysis of the matched sample, patients with influenza had an increased risk of readmission within 30 days (Risk Difference (RD): 0.07, 95% CI: 0.03 to 0.11) and admission to intensive care unit (RD: 0.09, 95% CI: 0.03 to 0.15) compared with those with COVID-19. Patients with influenza had also more pulmonary bacterial superinfections (46.2% vs 7.4%) and more cardiovascular complications (32% vs 3.9%) than patients with COVID-19.However, a two-fold increased risk of mortality (RD: -0.10, 95% CI: 0.15 to -0.05) was observed in COVID-19 compared to influenza. ECMO was also more required among the COVID-19 patients who died than among influenza patients (5% vs 0%). CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 is associated with a higher in-hospital mortality compared to influenza infection, despite a high rate of ICU admission in the influenza group. These findings highlighted that the severity of hospitalized patients with influenza should not be underestimated.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cohort Studies , Hospital Mortality , Humans , Influenza, Human/complications , Influenza, Human/epidemiology , Influenza, Human/therapy , Intensive Care Units , Pandemics , Retrospective Studies , Tertiary Care Centers
12.
Viruses ; 14(9)2022 09 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2033137

ABSTRACT

Fifty-five patients who suffered from COVID-19, who were still very ill after several months, with extreme fatigue, effort exhaustion, brain fog, anomia, memory disorder, anosmia, dysgeusia, and other multi-systemic health problems have been followed in a family practice setting between May 2021 and July 2022. Data extracted from the medical records of the 55 patients (40 women), mean age 42.4 (12 to 79 years), and a qualitative study of 6 of them using a semi-open-ended questionnaire allowed to highlight the clinical picture described by WHO as post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS) also known as long COVID. We used brain single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT-CT) in thirty-two patients with a high severity index and a highly impaired functional status, demonstrating vascular encephalopathy in twenty nine patients and supporting the hypothesis of a persistent cerebral vascular flow disorder in post COVID-19 condition. The patients will benefit from the consortium COVID Human Genetic Effort (covidhge.com) to explore the genetic and immunological basis of their problem, as 23/55 cases don't have immunological certainty of a COVID-19 infection. There is no known verified treatment. Analyzing the data from the first 52 patients, three categories of patients emerged over time: 16 patients made a full recovery after 6-8 months, 15 patients were able to return to life and work after 12-18 months with some sequelae, both groups being considered cured. In the third group, 21 patients are still very ill and unable to resume their work and life after 18 months. The biopsychosocial consequences on patients' lives are severe and family doctors are left out in the cold. It is necessary to test the reproducibility of this description, conducted on a small number of patients. Nevertheless, identifying, monitoring and supporting these patients is a necessity in family medicine.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Adult , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/complications , Family Practice , Female , Follow-Up Studies , Humans , Reproducibility of Results , SARS-CoV-2 , Treatment Outcome
13.
Vaccine ; 40(43): 6218-6224, 2022 10 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2031733

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: Long term care facilities for elderly (LTCFs) in Europe encountered a high disease burden at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, these facilities were the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines in many European countries. A limited COVID-19 vaccine supply early 2021 resulted in a majority of residents and healthcare workers (HCWs) in LTCFs being vaccinated compared to a minority in the general population. This study exploits this imbalance to assess the efficiency of COVID-19 vaccination in containing outbreaks in LTCFs. METHODS: Exploratory statistics were performed using data from a COVID-19 surveillance system covering all 842 LTCFs in Flanders (the northern region of Belgium). The number and size of COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCFs were compared (1) before and after introducing vaccines and (2) with the status of the pandemic in the general population. Based on individual data from 15 LTCFs, the infection rate and symptoms of vaccinated and unvaccinated residents and HCWs were compared during a COVID-19 outbreak. RESULTS: 95.8% of the residents and 90.9% of the HCWs in Flemish LTCFs were vaccinated before May 30, 2021. Before vaccine introduction, residents in LTCFs were 10 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19 than the general population of Flanders. This ratio reversed after vaccination. Furthermore, after vaccination fewer and shorter outbreaks were observed involving fewer residents. During these outbreaks, vaccinated and unvaccinated residents were equally likely to test positive, but positive vaccinated residents were less likely to develop severe symptoms. In contrast, unvaccinated HCWs were more likely to test positive. CONCLUSION: In the first half of 2021, two-dose vaccination was highly efficient in preventing and containing outbreaks in LTCFs, reducing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. The high likelihood of unvaccinated HCWs to be involved in COVID-19 outbreaks in vaccinated LTCFs emphasizes the importance of vaccinating HCWs.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Influenza, Human , Aged , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19 Vaccines , Disease Outbreaks/prevention & control , Humans , Influenza, Human/prevention & control , Long-Term Care , Pandemics , Vaccination
14.
Rev Med Suisse ; 18(792): 1552-1555, 2022 Aug 24.
Article in French | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2026888

ABSTRACT

We will briefly review the history of telemedicine. Then we will look at its various applications, including teleconsultation, which is only one part of telemedicine. Belgium had not evolved much in the field of teleconsultation. It was only during the COVID-19 pandemic that this possibility was quickly made available to caregivers, and therefore to patients. We will discuss how the Belgian authorities were able to speed up the possibility of using this branch of telemedicine. We will focus more specifically on the care of diabetic patients, particularly in our institution, the University Hospital of Liège in Belgium. Finally, we will discuss the limits and prospects of telemedicine, particularly in the field of diabetology.


Nous allons revoir brièvement l'historique de la télémédecine. Ensuite nous aborderons ses différentes applications, dont fait partie la téléconsultation, qui est une partie de la télémédecine. La Belgique n'avait que peu évolué en matière de téléconsultation. Il a fallu que la pandémie de Covid-19 arrive pour que cette possibilité soit rapidement offerte aux soignants, et donc aux patients. Nous aborderons comment les autorités belges ont pu accélérer la possibilité d'avoir recours à cette branche de la télémédecine. Nous nous focaliserons plus spécifiquement sur la prise en charge des patients diabétiques, en particulier dans notre institution, à savoir le CHU de Liège en Belgique. Enfin, nous aborderons les limites et les perspectives de la télémédecine, en particulier dans le domaine de la diabétologie.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Diabetes Mellitus , Telemedicine , Belgium/epidemiology , Diabetes Mellitus/epidemiology , Diabetes Mellitus/therapy , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2
15.
BMC Public Health ; 22(1): 1719, 2022 09 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2021272

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Policymakers worldwide took measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19-virus. While these sanitary measures were necessary to fight the spread of the virus, several experts warned for a significant impact on mental health and a potential increase in domestic violence. To study the impact of the COVID-19 measures in Belgium, and the factors influencing the occurrence of domestic violence, we set up the study on relationships, stress, and aggression. In this study, we evaluate the prevalence of domestic violence victimization during the COVID-19 lockdown in Belgian children aged zero to seventeen years and the associations of the parents' financial status, relationships, mental health, and previous victimization to the child's victimization. METHODS: A stepwise forward binary logistic regression was used to analyse the association between multiple risk factors of domestic violence and victimization of the respondent's child. The respondent being an assailant, the respondent's age, and the age of the children in the household were added as moderators. RESULTS: In this model an association with domestic child abuse was found for the age of the respondent, the household's size, the presence of children between zero and five years in the household, the perceived stress level of the respondent, and victimization of the respondent during the first wave of the sanitary measures, as well as victimization before the COVID-19 pandemic. None of the interacting effects were found to be significant. CONCLUSION: It is advisable to make extra efforts to improve well-being when maintaining sanitary measures by providing appropriate assistance and helping households struggling with increased or acute stress to install positive coping strategies - especially in larger households with children between six and 17 years. Besides, our findings draw attention to the clustering of risk of child and adult violence exposure in lockdown situations as well as to the potential cumulative impact of exposure to violence across the lifespan and across generations. It is key to invest in training healthcare workers and staff at schools to screen for and assess risks of domestic violence development and ongoing or past occurrence in order to detect, refer and follow-up on families at risk.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Domestic Violence , Adult , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , Child , Communicable Disease Control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Domestic Violence/psychology , Humans , Pandemics/prevention & control
16.
Viruses ; 14(9)2022 09 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2010310

ABSTRACT

Wastewater-based surveillance was conducted by the national public health authority to monitor SARS-CoV-2 circulation in the Belgian population. Over 5 million inhabitants representing 45% of the Belgian population were monitored throughout 42 wastewater treatment plants for 15 months comprising three major virus waves. During the entire period, a high correlation was observed between the daily new COVID-19 cases and the SARS-CoV-2 concentration in wastewater corrected for rain impact and covered population size. Three alerting indicators were included in the weekly epidemiological assessment: High Circulation, Fast Increase, and Increasing Trend. These indicators were computed on normalized concentrations per individual treatment plant to allow for a comparison with a reference period as well as between analyses performed by distinct laboratories. When the indicators were not corrected for rain impact, rainy events caused an underestimation of the indicators. Despite this negative impact, the indicators permitted us to effectively monitor the evolution of the fourth virus wave and were considered complementary and valuable information to conventional epidemiological indicators in the weekly wastewater reports communicated to the National Risk Assessment Group.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , SARS-CoV-2 , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Humans , Public Health , RNA, Viral , Waste Water
17.
BMC Med Educ ; 22(1): 631, 2022 Aug 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2002166

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 has presented a substantial burden on students and healthcare staff. This mixed-method, descriptive and correlational study aimed to: 1) describe academic; and 2) professional burnout levels; 3) their associations with working in COVID-19-related care; and 4) with perceived COVID-19 impact on studies and internships among medical students and residents. We hypothesized burnout levels to be high; those involved in COVID-19 care to experience higher impact of COVID-19 on studies and work, and to experience higher levels of academic and professional burnout than those not involved in COVID-19 care; academic and professional burnout to be higher when perceived burden due to COVID-19 was higher. During first lockdown in Belgium, a mixed-method cross-sectional survey assessed academic burnout (MBI-SS) and professional burnout in relation to internships and residency (MBI-HSS). Correlations and t-tests tested associations of burnout with involvement in COVID-19-related care and perceived impact of COVID-19 on studies and work (SPSS). Participants provided open-ended comments which were thematically analysed (NVivo). In total, 194 medical students and residents participated (79.5% female, M age = 24.9 ± 2.5). Emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation were high in professional burnout, but moderate in academic burnout. Those involved in COVID-19 related care perceived a higher impact of COVID-19 on their studies and internship/residency and have higher professional burnout, but do not show a higher academic burnout. Those who have a higher perceived impact of COVID-19 on their studies scored higher on academic burnout. Participants mentioned an increased workload (e.g., having to be constantly available and constantly adapt), distress (e.g., uncertainty, fatigue, fear for impact on significant others), fewer learning opportunities (e.g., cancelled internships, changing learning methods), lack of relatedness with patients and supervisors (e.g., lack of respect and understanding from supervisors, distance created by phone consultations with patients) and cynicism towards remote care or non-medical tasks (e.g., considering what they do is not useful or not what they trained for). Students and residents showed indications of professional and academic burnout in relation to the COVID-19 situation. Interventions are needed that can meet the needs of achieving learning outcomes, managing extreme situations and relatedness.


Subject(s)
Burnout, Professional , COVID-19 , Internship and Residency , Students, Medical , Adult , Belgium/epidemiology , Burnout, Professional/epidemiology , Burnout, Psychological , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Disease Control , Cross-Sectional Studies , Female , Humans , Male , Surveys and Questionnaires , Young Adult
18.
Int J Environ Res Public Health ; 19(16)2022 08 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1987767

ABSTRACT

Belgium is a geographically small country bordered by The Netherlands, France, Germany, and Luxembourg, with intense transborder mobility, defined as mobility in the border regions with neighboring countries. It is therefore of interest to examine how the 14-day COVID-19 confirmed case incidence in the border regions is influenced by that of the adjacent regions in the neighboring countries and thus, whether and how it differs from that in the adjacent non-border regions within Belgium. To this end, the 14-day COVID-19 confirmed case incidence is studied at the level of Belgian provinces, well-defined border areas within Belgium, and adjacent regions in the neighboring countries. Auxiliary information encompasses work-related border traffic, travel rates, the proportion of people with a different nationality, the stringency index of the non-pharmaceutical interventions, and the degree of urbanization at the level of the municipality. Especially in transnational urbanized areas such as between the Belgian and Dutch provinces of Limburg and between the Belgian province of Antwerp and the Dutch province of North Brabant, the impact on incidence is visible, at least at some points in time, especially when the national incidences differ between neighboring countries. In contrast, the intra-Belgian language border regions show very little transborder impact on the incidence curves, except around the Brussels capital region, leading to various periods where the incidences are very different in the Dutch-speaking north and the French-speaking south of Belgium. Our findings suggest that while travel restrictions may be needed at some points during a pandemic, a more fine-grained approach than merely closing national borders may be considered. At the same time, in border regions with considerable transborder mobility, it is recommended to coordinate the non-pharmaceutical interventions between the authorities of the various countries overlapping with the border region. While this seems logical, there are clear counterexamples, e.g., where non-essential shops, restaurants, and bars are closed in one country but not in the neighboring country.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Germany , Humans , Incidence , Netherlands/epidemiology
19.
Crit Care ; 26(1): 225, 2022 07 25.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1962881

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Acute kidney injury (AKI) has been reported as a frequent complication of critical COVID-19. We aimed to evaluate the occurrence of AKI and use of kidney replacement therapy (KRT) in critical COVID-19, to assess patient and kidney outcomes and risk factors for AKI and differences in outcome when the diagnosis of AKI is based on urine output (UO) or on serum creatinine (sCr). METHODS: Multicenter, retrospective cohort analysis of patients with critical COVID-19 in seven large hospitals in Belgium. AKI was defined according to KDIGO within 21 days after ICU admission. Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to explore the risk factors for developing AKI and to assess the association between AKI and ICU mortality. RESULTS: Of 1286 patients, 85.1% had AKI, and KRT was used in 9.8%. Older age, obesity, a higher APACHE II score and use of mechanical ventilation at day 1 of ICU stay were associated with an increased risk for AKI. After multivariable adjustment, all AKI stages were associated with ICU mortality. AKI was based on sCr in 40.1% and UO in 81.5% of patients. All AKI stages based on sCr and AKI stage 3 based on UO were associated with ICU mortality. Persistent AKI was present in 88.6% and acute kidney disease (AKD) in 87.6%. Rapid reversal of AKI yielded a better prognosis compared to persistent AKI and AKD. Kidney recovery was observed in 47.4% of surviving AKI patients. CONCLUSIONS: Over 80% of critically ill COVID-19 patients had AKI. This was driven by the high occurrence rate of AKI defined by UO criteria. All AKI stages were associated with mortality (NCT04997915).


Subject(s)
Acute Kidney Injury , COVID-19 , Acute Kidney Injury/diagnosis , Acute Kidney Injury/epidemiology , Acute Kidney Injury/etiology , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/complications , Cohort Studies , Critical Illness , Hospitals , Humans , Intensive Care Units , Retrospective Studies
20.
BMC Cancer ; 22(1): 183, 2022 Feb 18.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1962775

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Many breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer screening programs were disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to estimate the short-term impact of the temporary shutdown (from March until May- June) of the cancer screening programs invitations in Flanders (Belgium) by looking at invitation coverage, percentage of people screened after invitation and the screening interval. METHODS: Yearly invitation coverage was calculated as the number of people who received an invitation, as a proportion of the people who should have received an invitation that year. Weekly response to the invitation was calculated as the number of people who were screened within 40 days of their date of invitation, as a percentage of the people who received an invitation that week (as a proxy for willingness to screen). Weekly screening interval was calculated as the mean number of months between the current screening and the previous screening of all the people who screened that week. The two last indicators were calculated for each week in 2019 and 2020, after which the difference between that week's value in 2020 and 2019 with 95% confidence intervals. Results of these two indicators were also analysed after stratification for gender, age and participation history. RESULTS: Invitation coverage was not impacted in the colorectal and cervical cancer screening program. In the breast cancer screening program invitation coverage went down from 97.5% (2019) to 88.7% (2020), and the backlog of invitations was largely resolved in the first six months of 2021. The willingness to screen was minimally influenced by COVID-19. The breast cancer screening program had a temporary increase in screening interval in the first months following the restart after COVID-19 related shutdown, when it was on average 2.1 months longer than in 2019. CONCLUSIONS: Willingness to screen was minimally influenced by COVID-19, but there may be an influence on screening coverage because of lower invitation coverage, mainly for the for breast Cancer Screening Program. The increases in screening intervals for the three Cancer Screening Program seem reasonable and would probably not significantly increase the risk of delayed screening cancer diagnoses. When restarting a Cancer Screening Program after a COVID-19 related shutdown, monitoring is crucial.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/prevention & control , Early Detection of Cancer/statistics & numerical data , Adult , Aged , Belgium/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Delivery of Health Care/statistics & numerical data , Female , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Neoplasms/diagnosis , Patient Participation/statistics & numerical data , SARS-CoV-2
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