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Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Subtitle:comparing mixing patterns in the Belgian population during and after lockdown
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how a newly emergent communicable disease can lay considerable burden on public health. To avoid system collapse, governments have resorted to several social distancing measures. In Belgium, this included a lockdown and a following period of phased re-opening. A representative sample of Belgian adults was asked about their contact behaviour from mid-April to the beginning of August, during different stages of the intervention measures in Belgium. Use of personal protection equipment (face masks) and compliance to hygienic measures was also reported. We estimated the expected reproduction number computing the ratio of R0 with respect to pre-pandemic data. During the first two waves (the first month) of the survey, the reduction in the average number of contacts was around 80% and was quite consistent across all age-classes. The average number of contacts increased over time, particularly for the younger age classes, still remaining significantly lower than pre-pandemic values. From the end of May to the end of July , the estimated reproduction number has a median value larger than one, although with a wide dispersion. Estimated R0 fell below one again at the beginning of August. We have shown how a rapidly deployed survey can measure compliance to social distancing and assess its impact on COVID-19 spread. Monitoring the effectiveness of social distancing recommendations is of paramount importance to avoid further waves of COVID-19.
Journal: Scientific Reports
Number of pages: 10