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      Myths, beliefs, and perceptions about COVID-19 in Ethiopia:  A need to address information gaps and enable combating efforts

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          Abstract

          Background

          The endeavor to tackle the spread of COVID-19 effectively remains futile without the right grasp of perceptions and beliefs presiding in the community. Therefore, this study aimed to assess myths, beliefs, perceptions, and information gaps about COVID-19 in Ethiopia.

          Methods

          An internet-based survey was conducted in Ethiopia from April 22 to May 04, 2020. The survey link was promoted through emails, social media, and the Jimma University website. Perceptions about COVID-19 have considered the World Health Organization (WHO) resources and local beliefs. The data were analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) software version 20.0. Classifications and lists of factors for each thematic perception of facilitators, inhibitors, and information needs were generated. Explanatory factor analysis (EFA) was executed to assist categorizations. Standardized mean scores of the categories were compared using analysis of variance (ANOVA) and t-tests. A significant difference was claimed at p-value <0.05.

          Results

          A total of 929 responses were gathered during the study period. The EFA generated two main categories of perceived facilitators of COVID-19 spread: behavioral non-adherence (55.9%) and lack of enablers (86.5%). Behavioral non-adherence was illustrated by fear of stigma (62.9%), not seeking care (59.3%), and hugging and shaking (44.8%). Perceived lack of enablers of precautionary measures includes staying home impossible due to economic challenges (92.4%), overcrowding (87.6%), and inaccessible face masks (81.6%) and hand sanitizers (79.1%). Perceived inhibitors were categorized into three factors: two misperceived, myths (31.6%) and false assurances (32.9%), and one correctly identified; engagement in standard precautions (17.1%). Myths about protection from the virus involve perceived religiosity and effectiveness of selected food items, hot weather, traditional medicine, and alcohol drinking, ranging from 15.1% to 54.7%. False assurances include people’s perception that they were living far away from areas where COVID-19 was rampant (36.9%), and no locally reported cases were present (29.5%). There were tremendous information needs reported about COVID-19 concerning protection methods (62.6%), illness behavior and treatment (59.5%), and quality information, including responses to key unanswered questions such as the origin of the virus (2.4%). Health workers were perceived as the most at-risk group (83.3%). The children, adolescents, youths were marked at low to moderate (45.1%-62.2%) risk of COVID-19. Regional, township, and access to communication showed significant variations in myths, false assurances, and information needs (p <0.05).

          Conclusions

          Considering young population as being at low risk of COVID-19 would be challenging to the control efforts, and needs special attention. Risk communication and community engagement efforts should consider regional and township variations of myths and false assurances. It should also need to satisfy information needs, design local initiatives that enhance community ownership of the control of the virus, and thereby support engagement in standard precautionary measures. All forms of media should be properly used and regulated to disseminate credible information while filtering out myths and falsehoods.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China

          Summary Background A recent cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China, was caused by a novel betacoronavirus, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). We report the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics and treatment and clinical outcomes of these patients. Methods All patients with suspected 2019-nCoV were admitted to a designated hospital in Wuhan. We prospectively collected and analysed data on patients with laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection by real-time RT-PCR and next-generation sequencing. Data were obtained with standardised data collection forms shared by WHO and the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium from electronic medical records. Researchers also directly communicated with patients or their families to ascertain epidemiological and symptom data. Outcomes were also compared between patients who had been admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) and those who had not. Findings By Jan 2, 2020, 41 admitted hospital patients had been identified as having laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV infection. Most of the infected patients were men (30 [73%] of 41); less than half had underlying diseases (13 [32%]), including diabetes (eight [20%]), hypertension (six [15%]), and cardiovascular disease (six [15%]). Median age was 49·0 years (IQR 41·0–58·0). 27 (66%) of 41 patients had been exposed to Huanan seafood market. One family cluster was found. Common symptoms at onset of illness were fever (40 [98%] of 41 patients), cough (31 [76%]), and myalgia or fatigue (18 [44%]); less common symptoms were sputum production (11 [28%] of 39), headache (three [8%] of 38), haemoptysis (two [5%] of 39), and diarrhoea (one [3%] of 38). Dyspnoea developed in 22 (55%) of 40 patients (median time from illness onset to dyspnoea 8·0 days [IQR 5·0–13·0]). 26 (63%) of 41 patients had lymphopenia. All 41 patients had pneumonia with abnormal findings on chest CT. Complications included acute respiratory distress syndrome (12 [29%]), RNAaemia (six [15%]), acute cardiac injury (five [12%]) and secondary infection (four [10%]). 13 (32%) patients were admitted to an ICU and six (15%) died. Compared with non-ICU patients, ICU patients had higher plasma levels of IL2, IL7, IL10, GSCF, IP10, MCP1, MIP1A, and TNFα. Interpretation The 2019-nCoV infection caused clusters of severe respiratory illness similar to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus and was associated with ICU admission and high mortality. Major gaps in our knowledge of the origin, epidemiology, duration of human transmission, and clinical spectrum of disease need fulfilment by future studies. Funding Ministry of Science and Technology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, National Natural Science Foundation of China, and Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission.
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            Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study

            Summary Background In December, 2019, a pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) emerged in Wuhan, China. We aimed to further clarify the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 2019-nCoV pneumonia. Methods In this retrospective, single-centre study, we included all confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital from Jan 1 to Jan 20, 2020. Cases were confirmed by real-time RT-PCR and were analysed for epidemiological, demographic, clinical, and radiological features and laboratory data. Outcomes were followed up until Jan 25, 2020. Findings Of the 99 patients with 2019-nCoV pneumonia, 49 (49%) had a history of exposure to the Huanan seafood market. The average age of the patients was 55·5 years (SD 13·1), including 67 men and 32 women. 2019-nCoV was detected in all patients by real-time RT-PCR. 50 (51%) patients had chronic diseases. Patients had clinical manifestations of fever (82 [83%] patients), cough (81 [82%] patients), shortness of breath (31 [31%] patients), muscle ache (11 [11%] patients), confusion (nine [9%] patients), headache (eight [8%] patients), sore throat (five [5%] patients), rhinorrhoea (four [4%] patients), chest pain (two [2%] patients), diarrhoea (two [2%] patients), and nausea and vomiting (one [1%] patient). According to imaging examination, 74 (75%) patients showed bilateral pneumonia, 14 (14%) patients showed multiple mottling and ground-glass opacity, and one (1%) patient had pneumothorax. 17 (17%) patients developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and, among them, 11 (11%) patients worsened in a short period of time and died of multiple organ failure. Interpretation The 2019-nCoV infection was of clustering onset, is more likely to affect older males with comorbidities, and can result in severe and even fatal respiratory diseases such as acute respiratory distress syndrome. In general, characteristics of patients who died were in line with the MuLBSTA score, an early warning model for predicting mortality in viral pneumonia. Further investigation is needed to explore the applicability of the MuLBSTA score in predicting the risk of mortality in 2019-nCoV infection. Funding National Key R&D Program of China.
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              Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia

               Qun Li,  Xuhua Guan,  Peng Wu (2020)
              Abstract Background The initial cases of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)–infected pneumonia (NCIP) occurred in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019 and January 2020. We analyzed data on the first 425 confirmed cases in Wuhan to determine the epidemiologic characteristics of NCIP. Methods We collected information on demographic characteristics, exposure history, and illness timelines of laboratory-confirmed cases of NCIP that had been reported by January 22, 2020. We described characteristics of the cases and estimated the key epidemiologic time-delay distributions. In the early period of exponential growth, we estimated the epidemic doubling time and the basic reproductive number. Results Among the first 425 patients with confirmed NCIP, the median age was 59 years and 56% were male. The majority of cases (55%) with onset before January 1, 2020, were linked to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, as compared with 8.6% of the subsequent cases. The mean incubation period was 5.2 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 4.1 to 7.0), with the 95th percentile of the distribution at 12.5 days. In its early stages, the epidemic doubled in size every 7.4 days. With a mean serial interval of 7.5 days (95% CI, 5.3 to 19), the basic reproductive number was estimated to be 2.2 (95% CI, 1.4 to 3.9). Conclusions On the basis of this information, there is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019. Considerable efforts to reduce transmission will be required to control outbreaks if similar dynamics apply elsewhere. Measures to prevent or reduce transmission should be implemented in populations at risk. (Funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and others.)
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: ResourcesRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: InvestigationRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1932-6203
                30 November 2020
                2020
                30 November 2020
                : 15
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ] Department of Health, Behavior, and Society, Faculty of Public Health, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia
                [2 ] Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia
                [3 ] Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia
                [4 ] Department of Economics, College of Business and Economics, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia
                [5 ] Department of English Language and Literature, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia
                [6 ] Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia
                [7 ] Department of Environmental Health Sciences and Technology, Faculty of Public Health, Jimma University, Jimma, Ethiopia
                Jouf University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, SAUDI ARABIA
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Article
                PONE-D-20-17606
                10.1371/journal.pone.0243024
                7703946
                33253268
                © 2020 Kebede et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 6, Pages: 18
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                The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.
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