The Healthcare Utilisation and Seroprevalence of COVID-19 (HUTS) study is a cross-sectional community survey being conducted in three communities serviced by healthcare facilities where severe respiratory illness (SRI) and influenza-like illness (ILI) surveillance is conducted in South Africa (Mitchell’s Plain, Pietermaritzburg and Klerksdorp) during and after the second wave of SARS-CoV-2 infections in South Africa. The study aims to explore the healthcare seeking behaviour for and cost of respiratory illness during the pandemic and to estimate SARS-CoV-2 community seroprevalence and the COVID-19 knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of the selected communities. The study will complement data from inpatient and outpatient syndromic surveillance conducted in the same target communities to document the clinical spectrum of illness, including the proportion of asymptomatic, mild, severe and fatal cases, both medically and non-medically attended. Serology testing for SARS-CoV-2 is important in order to better quantify the number of COVID-19 cases, including those that may have been asymptomatic or recovered without having been tested. Public health action is guided by the incidence of infection, and therefore understanding the full burden of infection and potentially immunity, is important. Surveillance of antibody seropositivity in the South African population will allow inferences to be made about the extent of infection in the community.
In three communities in South Africa, Klerksdorp North West Province, Pietermaritzburg KwaZulu-Natal and Mitchells Plain Western Cape, address the following:
Understanding community healthcare utilization, KAP and economic burden on households associated with the COVID-19 pandemic is key to guide containment and mitigation measures in local settings and globally. In addition, understanding the disease burden of COVID-19 and groups at increased risk of severe COVID-19 is key to inform mitigation guidelines for ongoing and potential future epidemics.
The study was approved by the University of the Witwatersrand Human Research Ethics Committee (Reference M200861).