Utility of Prehospital Call-Center Ambulance-Dispatch Data for COVID-19 Cluster-Surveillance: A Retrospective Analysis. Academic emergency medicine : official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Janagama, S. R., Strehlow, M. C., Rao, R. G., Kohn, M. A., Newberry, J. A. 2022


INTRODUCTION: Cluster surveillance, identification, and containment are primary outbreak management techniques, however, adapting these for low- and middle-income countries is an ongoing challenge. We aimed to evaluate the utility of prehospital call-center ambulance dispatch (CCAD) data for surveillance by examining the correlation between influenza-like illness-related (ILI) dispatch calls and COVID-19 cases.METHODS: We performed a retrospective analysis of state-level CCAD and COVID-19 data recorded between January 1 and April 30, 2020, in Telangana, India. The primary outcome was a time-series correlation between ILI calls in CCAD and COVID-19 case counts. Secondarily, we looked for a year-to-year correlation of ILI calls in the same period over 2018, 2019, and 2020.RESULTS: On average, ILI calls comprised 12.9% (95%CI: 11.7%-14.1%) of total daily calls in 2020, compared to 7.8% (95%CI: 7.6-8.0%) in 2018, and 7.7% (95%CI: 7.5-7.7%) in 2019. ILI call counts from 2018, 2019, and 2020 aligned closely until March 19, when 2020 ILI calls increased, representing 16% of all calls by March 23 and 27.5% by April 7. In contrast to the significant correlation observed between 2020 and previous years' January-February calls (2020&2019: DW=0.749, p<0.001; 2020&2018: DW=1.232, p<0.001), no correlation was observed for March-April calls (2020&19: DW=2.012, p=0.476; 2020&2018: DW=1.820, p=0.208). In March-April 2020, the daily reported COVID-19 cases by time series significantly correlated with the ILI calls (DW=0.977, p<0.001). The ILI calls on a specific day significantly correlated with the COVID-19 cases reported seven days prior and up to 14days after (cross-correlation >0.251, the 95% upper confidence limit).CONCLUSIONS: The statistically significant time-series correlation between ILI calls and COVID-19 cases suggests prehospital CCAD can be part of early warning systems aiding outbreak cluster surveillance, identification, and containment.

View details for DOI 10.1111/acem.14612

View details for PubMedID 36271649