Types of COVID-19 clusters and their relationship with social distancing in the Seoul metropolitan area, South Korea
Choi, Y.-J.; Park, M.-J.; Park, S.J.; Hong, D.; Lee, S.; Lee, K.-S.; Moon, S.; Cho, J.; Jang, Y.; Lee, D.; Shin, A.; Hong, Y.-C.; Lee, J.-K.
International Journal of Infectious Diseases Ijid Official Publication of the International Society for Infectious Diseases 106: 363-369
ISSN/ISBN: 1878-3511 PMID: 33609772 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijid.2021.02.058
The complete contact tracing of coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) cases in South Korea allows a unique opportunity to investigate cluster characteristics. This study aimed to investigate all reported COVID-19 clusters in the Seoul metropolitan area from January 23 to September 24, 2020. Publicly available COVID-19 data was collected from the Seoul Metropolitan City and Gyeonggi Province. Community clusters with ≥5 cases were characterized by size and duration, categorized using K-means clustering, and the correlation between the types of clusters and the level of social distancing investigated. A total of 134 clusters comprised of 4033 cases were identified. The clusters were categorized into small (type I and II), medium (type III), and large (type IV) clusters. A comparable number of daily reported cases in different time periods were composed of different types of clusters. Increased social distancing was related to a shift from large to small-sized clusters. Classification of clusters may provide opportunities to understand the pattern of COVID-19 outbreaks better and implement more effective suppression strategies. Social distancing administered by the government may effectively suppress large clusters but may not effectively control small and sporadic clusters.