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Identification of geographical areas with high burden of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission in schools using spatial analyses has become an important tool to guide targeted interventions in educational setting. In this study, we aimed to explore the spatial distribution and determinants of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) among students aged 3–18 years in South Korea. We analysed the nationwide epidemiological data on laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in schools and in the communities between January 2020 and October 2021 in South Korea. To explore the spatial distribution, the global Moran's I and Getis-Ord's G using incidence rates among the districts of aged 3–18 years and 30–59 years. Spatial regression analysis was performed to find sociodemographic predictors of the COVID-19 attack rate in schools and in the communities. The global spatial correlation estimated by Moran's I was 0.647 for the community population and 0.350 for the student population, suggesting that the students were spatially less correlated than the community-level outbreak of SARS-CoV-2. In schools, attack rate of adults aged 30–59 years in the community was associated with increased risk of transmission (P < 0.0001). Number of students per class (in kindergartens, primary schools, middle schools and high schools) did not show significant association with the school transmission of SARS-CoV-2. In South Korea, COVID-19 in students had spatial variations across the country. Statistically significant high hotspots of SARS-CoV-2 transmission among students were found in the capital area, with dense population level and high COVID-19 burden among adults aged 30–59 years. Our finding suggests that controlling community-level burden of COVID-19 can help in preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection in school-aged children.
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a major threat to mental health and is associated with an increased risk of suicide. An understanding of suicidal behaviours during the pandemic is necessary for establishing policies to prevent suicides in such social conditions.
We aimed to investigate vulnerable individuals and the characteristics of changes in suicidal behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients with suicide attempts who visited the emergency department from February 2019 to January 2021. We analysed the demographic and clinical characteristics, risk factors and rescue factors of patients, and compared the findings between the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods.
In total, 519 patients were included. During the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods, 303 and 270 patients visited the emergency department after a suicide attempt, respectively. The proportion of suicide attempts by women (60.1% v. 69.3%, P = 0.035) and patients with a previous psychiatric illness (63.4% v. 72.9%, P = 0.006) increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, patients’ rescue scores during the pandemic were lower than those during the pre-pandemic period (12 (interquartile range: 11–13) v. 13 (interquartile range: 12–14), P < 0.001).
Women and people with previous psychiatric illnesses were more vulnerable to suicide attempts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicide prevention policies, such as continuous monitoring and staying in touch with vulnerable individuals, are necessary to cope with suicide risk.
This study aimed to explore perceptions of the meaning of life among Korean patients living with advanced cancer.
The study employed a mixed-methods design, and 16 participants were included in the analysis. Qualitative data gathered from in-depth interviews were analyzed using Colaizzi's phenomenological method. Quantitative survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, the Mann–Whitney U test, the Kruskal–Wallis test, and Spearman's ρ correlation.
Participants experienced both the existence of meaning and the will to find meaning in terms of four categories: “interpersonal relationships based on attachment and cohesion” (three themes — family as the core meaning of one's life, supportive and dependent interconnectedness with significant others, and existential responsibility embedded in familism), “therapeutic relationships based on trust” (one theme — communication and trust between the patient and medical staff), “optimism” (two themes — positivity embodied through past experiences and a positive attitude toward the current situation), and “a sense of purpose with advanced cancer” (two themes — the will to survive and expectations for the near future). The meaning in life questionnaire (MLQ) and the purpose in life scale (PIL) showed a significant positive correlation tendency with the functional assessment of chronic illness therapy-spiritual well-being scale (FACIT-Sp). The patient health questionnaire (PHQ-9) showed significant negative correlation tendency with both the MLQ-presence of meaning (MLQ-PM) and PIL-Initiative (PIL-I) questionnaires.
Significance of results
Finding meaning in life helps advanced cancer patients realize their will to live. It also acts as a coping mechanism that palliates negative experiences in the fight against the disease. In particular, among advanced cancer patients in the Korean culture, the dynamics of relationships with family and medical staff was a key axis that instilled optimism and will to live. These results suggest that considering the meaning of life in advanced cancer patients by reflecting Korean culture in the treatment process improves the quality of care.
It is well-known that native English speakers sometimes erroneously accept subject-verb agreement violations when there is a number-matching attractor (e.g., *The key to the cabinets were…). Whether bilinguals whose L1 lacks number agreement are prone to such interference is unclear, given previous studies that report conflicting findings using different structures, participant groups, and experimental designs. To resolve the conflict, we examined highly proficient Korean–English bilinguals’ susceptibility to agreement attraction, comparing prepositional phrase (PP) and relative clause (RC) modifiers in a speeded acceptability judgment task and a speeded forced-choice comprehension task. The bilinguals’ judgments revealed attraction with RCs but not with PPs, while reaction times indicated attraction with both structures. The results therefore showed L2 attraction in all measures, with the consistent exception of judgments for PPs. We argue that this supports an overall native-like agreement processing mechanism, augmented by an additional monitoring mechanism that filters explicit judgments in simple structures.
Our previous studies have already revealed that β-cryptoxanthin (BCX), hesperetin (HES), and icariin (ICA) antioxidants are effective for in vitro maturation (IVM) of porcine oocytes. In this study, we investigated which of BCX, HES, or ICA was more effective for IVM of porcine oocytes. The antioxidant properties were assessed with aged porcine oocytes and embryos by comparing 2,2-diphenyl-1-(2,4,6-trinitrophenyl)hydrazyl (DPPH), reducing power, and H2O2 scavenging activity assays. The chemical assay results demonstrated that BCX had a greater DPPH scavenging activity and reducing power than HES and ICA, compared with controls. However, the H2O2 scavenging activity of the antioxidants was similar when tested at the optimal concentrations of 1 μM BCX (BCX-1), 100 μM HES (HES-100), and 5 μM ICA (ICA-5). The biological assay results showed that BCX-1 treatment was more effective in inducing a significant reduction in reactive oxygen species (ROS), improving glutathione levels, and increasing the expression of antioxidant genes. In addition, BCX-1 inhibited apoptosis by increasing the expression of anti-apoptotic genes and decreasing pro-apoptotic genes in porcine parthenogenetic blastocysts. BCX-1 also significantly increased the blastocyst formation rate compared with the ageing control group, HES-100 and ICA-5. This study demonstrates that damage from ROS produced during oocyte ageing can be prevented by supplementing antioxidants into the IVM medium, and BCX may be a potential candidate to improve assisted reproductive technologies.
Firefighters are frequently exposed to stressful situations and are at high risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hyperresponsiveness to threatening and emotional stimuli and diminishment of executive control have been suggested as manifestations of PTSD.
To examine brain activation in firefighters with PTSD by conducting an executive control-related behavioural task with trauma-related interferences.
Twelve firefighters with PTSD and 14 healthy firefighters underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a Stroop match-to-sample task using trauma-related photographic stimuli. Seed-based functional connectivity analysis was conducted using regions identified in fMRI contrast analysis.
Compared with the controls, the participants with PTSD had longer reaction times when the trauma-related interferences were presented. They showed significantly stronger brain activation to interfering trauma-related stimuli in the left insula, and had weaker insular functional connectivity in the supplementary motor area and the anterior cingulate cortex than the controls. They also showed a significant correlation between left insula–supplementary motor area connectivity strength and the hyperarousal subscale of the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale.
Our findings indicate that trauma-related stimuli elicit excessive brain activation in the left insula among firefighters with PTSD. Firefighters with PTSD also appear to have weak left insular functional connectivity with executive control-related brain regions. This aberrant insular activation and functional connectivity could be related to the development and maintenance of PTSD symptoms in firefighters.
Nosocomial transmission of COVID-19 among immunocompromised hosts can have a serious impact on COVID-19 severity, underlying disease progression and SARS-CoV-2 transmission to other patients and healthcare workers within hospitals. We experienced a nosocomial outbreak of COVID-19 in the setting of a daycare unit for paediatric and young adult cancer patients. Between 9 and 18 November 2020, 473 individuals (181 patients, 247 caregivers/siblings and 45 staff members) were exposed to the index case, who was a nursing staff. Among them, three patients and four caregivers were infected. Two 5-year-old cancer patients with COVID-19 were not severely ill, but a 25-year-old cancer patient showed prolonged shedding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA for at least 12 weeks, which probably infected his mother at home approximately 7–8 weeks after the initial diagnosis. Except for this case, no secondary transmission was observed from the confirmed cases in either the hospital or the community. To conclude, in the day care setting of immunocompromised children and young adults, the rate of in-hospital transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was 1.6% when applying the stringent policy of infection prevention and control, including universal mask application and rapid and extensive contact investigation. Severely immunocompromised children/young adults with COVID-19 would have to be carefully managed after the mandatory isolation period while keeping the possibility of prolonged shedding of live virus in mind.
Large herbivores can disperse seeds over long distances through endozoochory. The Korean water deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus), an internationally vulnerable species but locally considered a vermin, is a potential endozoochorous seed dispersal vector. In this study, feeding experiments were conducted to test the efficiency of seed dispersal through gut ingestion by the Korean water deer, its temporal pattern and the effect of gut passage on seed recovery and germination rate. Eight plant species, including species that formerly germinated from its faeces, were used to feed three Korean water deer. Once the deer had consumed all the provided seeds, their faeces were collected after 24, 48, 72 and 96 h. The collected faeces were air-dried, and the number of seeds retrieved from the faeces was counted every 24 h (0–24, 24–48, 48–72 and 72–96 h). Among the eight plant species, six species were retrieved with intact seeds. Panicum bisulcatum had the highest recovery rate of 33.7%, followed by Amaranthus mangostanus (24.5%) and Chenopodium album (14.4%). Most of the seeds were recovered within the 24–48 h time interval. Germination tests were conducted on the ingested and uningested seeds for the four species which had a sufficient recovery rate. The effects of gut passage on seed germination differed according to plant species. The germination rate substantially decreased after gut passage. The results suggest that the Korean water deer can disperse seeds, potentially over long distances albeit at a high cost of low seed recovery and germination rate.
Accumulating evidence suggests that alterations in inflammatory biomarkers are important in depression. However, previous meta-analyses disagree on these associations, and errors in data extraction may account for these discrepancies.
PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library were searched from database inception to 14 January 2020. Meta-analyses of observational studies examining the association between depression and levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin 1-β (IL-1β), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and C-reactive protein (CRP) were eligible. Errors were classified as follows: incorrect sample sizes, incorrectly used standard deviation, incorrect participant inclusion, calculation error, or analysis with insufficient data. We determined their impact on the results after correction thereof.
Errors were noted in 14 of the 15 meta-analyses included. Across 521 primary studies, 118 (22.6%) showed the following errors: incorrect sample sizes (20 studies, 16.9%), incorrect use of standard deviation (35 studies, 29.7%), incorrect participant inclusion (7 studies, 5.9%), calculation errors (33 studies, 28.0%), and analysis with insufficient data (23 studies, 19.5%). After correcting these errors, 11 (29.7%) out of 37 pooled effect sizes changed by a magnitude of more than 0.1, ranging from 0.11 to 1.15. The updated meta-analyses showed that elevated levels of TNF- α, IL-6, CRP, but not IL-1β, are associated with depression.
These findings show that data extraction errors in meta-analyses can impact findings. Efforts to reduce such errors are important in studies of the association between depression and peripheral inflammatory biomarkers, for which high heterogeneity and conflicting results have been continuously reported.
We examined what causes L1-L2 differences in sensitivity to prominence cues in discourse processing. Participants listened to recorded stories in segment-by-segment fashion at their own pace. Each story established a pair of contrasting items, and one item from the pair was rementioned and manipulated to carry either a contrastive or presentational pitch accent. By directly comparing the current self-paced listening data to previously obtained experimenter-paced listening data, we tested whether reducing online-processing demands allows L2 learners to show a nativelike behavior, such that contrastive pitch accents facilitate later ruling out the salient alternative. However, reduced time pressure failed to lead even higher proficiency L1-Korean learners of English to reach a nativelike level, suggesting that L2 learners’ nonnativelike processing and representation of the prominence cue in spoken discourse processing can be due to the inherent difficulty of fully learning a complex form-function mapping rather than to online-processing demands.
Mental illness among survivors of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) during the post-illness period is an emerging and important health issue.
We aimed to investigate the prevalence of mental illness and the associated factors for its development among COVID-2019 survivors.
From 1 January to 4 June 2020, data were extracted from the National Health Insurance Service COVID-19 database in South Korea. Patients with COVID-19 were defined as those whose test results indicated that they had contracted the infection, regardless of disease severity. COVID-19 survivors were defined as those who recovered from the infection. The primary end-point was the development of mental illness, which was evaluated between 1 January and 1 December 2020.
A total 260 883 individuals were included in this study, and 2.36% (6148) were COVID-19 survivors. The COVID-19 survivors showed higher prevalence of mental illness than the control group (12.0% in the COVID-19 survivors v. 7.7% in the control group; odds ratio (OR) = 2.40, 95% CI 2.21–2.61, P < 0.001). Additionally, compared with the control group, the no specific treatment for COVID-19 group (OR = 2.23, 95% CI 2.03–2.45, P < 0.001) and specific treatment for COVID-19 group (OR = 3.27, 95% CI 2.77–3.87, P < 0.001) showed higher prevalence of mental illness among survivors.
In South Korea, COVID-19 survivors had a higher risk of developing mental illness compared with the rest of the populations. Moreover, this trend was more evident in COVID-19 survivors who experienced specific treatment in the hospital.
To investigate the feasibility of using an ultraviolet light-emitting diode (UV LED) robot for the terminal decontamination of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient rooms.
We assessed the presence of viral RNA in samples from environmental surfaces before and after UV LED irradiation in COVID-19 patient rooms after patient discharge.
We analyzed 216 environmental samples from 17 rooms: 2 from airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs) in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 15 from isolation rooms in the community treatment center (CTC). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) RNA was detected in 40 (18.5%) of 216 samples after patient discharge: 12 (33.3%) of 36 samples from AIIRs in the ICU, and 28 (15.6%) of 180 samples from isolation rooms in the CTC. In 1 AIIR, all samples were PCR negative after UV LED irradiation. In the CTC rooms, 14 (8.6%) of the 163 samples were PCR positive after UV LED irradiation. However, viable virus was not recovered from the culture of any of the PCR-positive samples.
Although no viable virus was recovered, SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected on various environmental surfaces. The use of a UV LED disinfection robot was effective in spacious areas such as an ICU, but its effects varied in small spaces like CTC rooms. These findings suggest that the UV LED robot may need enough space to disinfect rooms without recontamination by machine wheels or insufficient disinfection by shadowing.
Background: After the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus outbreak in Korea in 2015, the government newly established the additional reimbursement for infection prevention to encourage infection control activities in the hospitals. The new policy was announced in December 2015 and was implemented in September 2016. We evaluated how infection control activities improved in hospitals after the change of government policy in Korea. Methods: Three cross-sectional surveys using the WHO Hand Hygiene Self-Assessment Framework (HHSAF) were conducted in 2013, 2015, and 2017. Using multivariable linear regression model including hospital characteristics, we analyzed the changes in total HHSAF scores according to the survey time. Results: In total, 32 hospitals participated in the survey in 2013, 52 in 2015, and 101 in 2017. The number of inpatient beds per infection control professionals decreased from 324 in 2013 to 303 in 2015 and 179 in 2017. Most hospitals were at intermediate or advanced levels of progress (90.6% in 2013, 86.6% in 2015, and 94.1% in 2017). In a multivariable linear regression model, the total HHSAF scores were significantly associated with hospital teaching status (β coefficient of major teaching hospital, 52.6; 95% CI, 8.9–96.4; P = .018), bed size (β coefficient of 100-bed increase, 5.1; 95% CI, 0.3–9.8; P = .038), and survey time (β coefficient of 2017 survey, 45.1; 95% CI, 19.3–70.9; P = .001). Conclusions: After the national policy implementation, the number of infection control professionals increased, and the promotion of hand hygiene activities was strengthened in Korean hospitals.
Background: Recently, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in long-term care hospitals (LTCHs) have markedly increased, but no infection control policy has been established in South Korea. We investigated the current HAI surveillance system and executed a point-prevalence pilot study in LTCHs. Methods: HAIs were defined by newly established surveillance manual based on McGeer criteria revised in 2012. Three LTCHs in Seoul and Gyeonggi province were voluntarily recruited, and data were collected from up to 50 patients who were hospitalized on August 1. The medical records from September to November 2018 were retrospectively reviewed by a charge nurse for infection control per each hospitals after 1 day of training specific for LTCH surveillance. All data were reviewed by a senior researcher visiting onsite. Results: The participating hospitals had 272.33 ± 111.01 beds. Only 1 hospital had an onsite microbiological laboratory. In total, 156 patients were enrolled and 5 HAIs were detected, for a prevalence rate of 3.2%. The average patient age was 79.04 ± 9.92 years. The HAIs included 2 urinary tract infections, skin and soft-tissue infection, low respiratory infection, and conjunctivitis. Conclusions: This is the first survey of HAI in LTCHs in South Korea. The 3.2% prevalence rate is lower than those from previous reports from the European Union or the United States. This study supports the development of a national HAI surveillance and infection control system in LTCHs, although implementation may be limited due to the lack of laboratory support and infection control infrastructure in Korea.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of porcine follicular fluid (pFF) from large-sized (LFF; >8 mm in diameter) and medium-sized (MFF; 3–6 mm in diameter) follicles on the maturation and developmental competence of porcine oocytes. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) were collected from follicles 3–6 mm in diameter. The collected COCs were incubated for 22 h with LFF or MFF (in vitro maturation (IVM)-I stage) and were incubated subsequently for 22 h with LFF or MFF (IVM-II stage). Cumulus expansion was confirmed after the IVM-I stage and nuclear maturation was evaluated after the IVM-II stage. Intracellular glutathione (GSH) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were measured and embryonic development was evaluated. Relative cumulus expansion and GSH levels were higher in the LFF group compared with in the MFF group after the IVM-I stage (P < 0.05). After the IVM-II stage, the numbers of oocytes in metaphase-II were increased in the LFF group and GSH content was higher in all of the LFF treatment groups compared with in the MFF treatment groups during both IVM stages (P < 0.05). ROS levels were reduced by LFF treatment regardless of IVM stage (P < 0.05). Blastocyst formation and the total numbers of cells in blastocysts were increased in all LFF treatment groups compared with the control group (P < 0.05). These results suggested that pFF from large follicles at the IVM stage could improve nucleic and cytoplasmic maturation status and further embryonic development through reducing ROS levels and enhancing responsiveness to gonadotropins.
Understanding the natural course of epilepsy influences the advice given to patients, the treatment strategies and the timing of referral for surgery-based treatments. As such, it is integral to clinical care. The natural course of epilepsy at population level also has important implications for understanding the underlying neurobiology and for developing means for epilepsy prevention, new treatments and allocation of healthcare resources.
Early replacement of a new central venous catheter (CVC) may pose a risk of persistent or recurrent infection in patients with a catheter-related bloodstream infection (CRBSI). We evaluated the clinical impact of early CVC reinsertion after catheter removal in patients with CRBSIs.
We conducted a retrospective chart review of adult patients with confirmed CRBSIs in 2 tertiary-care hospitals over a 7-year period.
To treat their infections, 316 patients with CRBSIs underwent CVC removal. Among them, 130 (41.1%) underwent early CVC reinsertion (≤3 days after CVC removal), 39 (12.4%) underwent delayed reinsertion (>3 days), and 147 (46.5%) did not undergo CVC reinsertion. There were no differences in baseline characteristics among the 3 groups, except for nontunneled CVC, presence of septic shock, and reason for CVC reinsertion. The rate of persistent CRBSI in the early CVC reinsertion group (22.3%) was higher than that in the no CVC reinsertion group (7.5%; P = .002) but was similar to that in the delayed CVC reinsertion group (17.9%; P > .99). The other clinical outcomes did not differ among the 3 groups, including rates of 30-day mortality, complicated infection, and recurrence. After controlling for several confounding factors, early CVC reinsertion was not significantly associated with persistent CRBSI (OR, 1.59; P = .35) or 30-day mortality compared with delayed CVC reinsertion (OR, 0.81; P = .68).
Early CVC reinsertion in the setting of CRBSI may be safe. Replacement of a new CVC should not be delayed in patients who still require a CVC for ongoing management.
We report our experience with an emergency room (ER) shutdown related to an accidental exposure to a patient with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) who had not been isolated.
A 635-bed, tertiary-care hospital in Daegu, South Korea.
To prevent nosocomial transmission of the disease, we subsequently isolated patients with suspected symptoms, relevant radiographic findings, or epidemiology. Severe acute respiratory coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assays (RT-PCR) were performed for most patients requiring hospitalization. A universal mask policy and comprehensive use of personal protective equipment (PPE) were implemented. We analyzed effects of these interventions.
From the pre-shutdown period (February 10–25, 2020) to the post-shutdown period (February 28 to March 16, 2020), the mean hourly turnaround time decreased from 23:31 ±6:43 hours to 9:27 ±3:41 hours (P < .001). As a result, the proportion of the patients tested increased from 5.8% (N=1,037) to 64.6% (N=690) (P < .001) and the average number of tests per day increased from 3.8±4.3 to 24.7±5.0 (P < .001). All 23 patients with COVID-19 in the post-shutdown period were isolated in the ER without any problematic accidental exposure or nosocomial transmission. After the shutdown, several metrics increased. The median duration of stay in the ER among hospitalized patients increased from 4:30 hours (interquartile range [IQR], 2:17–9:48) to 14:33 hours (IQR, 6:55–24:50) (P < .001). Rates of intensive care unit admissions increased from 1.4% to 2.9% (P = .023), and mortality increased from 0.9% to 3.0% (P = .001).
Problematic accidental exposure and nosocomial transmission of COVID-19 can be successfully prevented through active isolation and surveillance policies and comprehensive PPE use despite longer ER stays and the presence of more severely ill patients during a severe COVID-19 outbreak.
We obtain several norm and eigenvalue inequalities for positive matrices partitioned into four blocks. The results involve the numerical range $W(X)$ of the off-diagonal block $X$, especially the distance $d$ from $0$ to $W(X)$. A special consequence is an estimate,