Epidemiological and virological factors determining dengue transmission in Sri Lanka during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ariyaratne D., Gomes L., Jayadas TTP., Kuruppu H., Kodituwakku L., Jeewandara C., Pannila Hetti N., Dheerasinghe A., Samaraweera S., Ogg GS., Malavige GN.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 there was a drastic reduction in the number of dengue cases in Sri Lanka, with an increase towards the end of 2021. We sought to study the contribution of virological factors, human mobility, school closure and mosquito factors in affecting these changes in dengue transmission in Sri Lanka during this time. To understand the reasons for the differences in the dengue case numbers in 2020 to 2021 compared to previous years, we determined the association between the case numbers in Colombo (which has continuously reported the highest number of cases) with school closures, stringency index, changes in dengue virus (DENV) serotypes and vector densities. There was a 79.4% drop in dengue cases from 2019 to 2020 in Colombo. A significant negative correlation was seen with the number of cases and school closures (Spearman's r = -0.4732, p <0.0001) and a negative correlation, which was not significant, between the stringency index and case numbers (Spearman's r = -0.3755 p = 0.0587). There was no change in the circulating DENV serotypes with DENV2 remaining the most prevalent serotype by early 2022 (65%), similar to the frequencies observed by end of 2019. The Aedes aegypti premise and container indices showed positive but insignificant correlations with dengue case numbers (Spearman r = 0.8827, p = 0.93). Lockdown measures, especially school closures seemed to have had a significant impact on the number of dengue cases, while the vector indices had a limited effect.