Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has prompted a global- scale public health response. Social distancing, along with intensive testing and contact tracing, has been considered an effective vehicle to reduce new infections. In this study, we aimed to estimate the effect of South Korean public health measures on behavioral changes with respect to social distancing without a nationwide lockdown. The results of this study may provide insights to countries who are planning to relax their aggressive restrictions though still having an unflattened curve of infections. Methods: To estimate how the closure of educational and social welfare facilities and the disclosure of confirmed patients’ contact history affected social distancing behaviors, we analyzed public transportation data in Seoul, Korea. For the modeling analysis, we used linear mixed-effects estimation. Results: Our estimation showed that the average daily number of bus passengers decreased by 21.8% in February 2020 as compared to the previous year with an additional decrease observed in the areas around educational and social welfare facilities. The highest drop in the daily number of passengers was observed in areas with religious facilities. We also found that individuals avoided areas that were proximate to or within the locations that constituted the confirmed patients’ contact history. Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that public health measures can lead people to practice social distancing. Among them, the measures that strongly encourage voluntary social distancing behaviors would play a critical role in suppressing the infections as it becomes increasingly difficult to continue imposing aggressive restrictions due to practical and economic reasons.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korea
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korea government. [grant numbers NRF-2017S1A5B6053101, NRF-2018R1D1A1B07045220].
© 2021 Im et al.
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