Prioritizing COVID-19 tests based on participatory surveillance and spatial scanning

Paper by O.B Leal-Neto et al: “Participatory surveillance has shown promising results from its conception to its application in several public health events. The use of a collaborative information pathway provides a rapid way for the data collection on symptomatic individuals in the territory, to complement traditional health surveillance systems. In Brazil, this methodology has been used at the national level since 2014 during mass gatherings events since they have great importance for monitoring public health emergencies.

With the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the limitation of the main non-pharmaceutical interventions for epidemic control – in this case, testing and social isolation – added to the challenge of existing underreporting of cases and delay of notifications, there is a demand on alternative sources of up to date information to complement the current system for disease surveillance. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of participatory surveillance in coping with COVID-19, reinforcing the opportunity to modernize the way health surveillance has been carried out. Additionally, spatial scanning techniques have been used to understand syndromic scenarios, investigate outbreaks, and analyze epidemiological risk, constituting relevant tools for health management. While there are limitations in the quality of traditional health systems, the data generated by participatory surveillance reveals an interesting application combining traditional techniques to clarify epidemiological risks that demand urgency in decision-making. Moreover, with the limitations of testing available, the identification of priority areas for intervention is an important activity in the early response to public health emergencies. This study aimed to describe and analyze priority areas for COVID-19 testing combining data from participatory surveillance and traditional surveillance for respiratory syndromes….(More)”.