This study aimed to evaluate the impact of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) restrictions such as social distancing on the occurrence of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) among children. This study is a register-based study, including every child seen in the departments of paediatrics with the initial diagnosis of AGE in three neighbouring hospitals in Denmark, from March 2018 through February 2021. The study also included every positive stool sample for AGE-causing pathogens analysed in these three hospitals from children during the same period. The Wilcoxon rank-sum test was used to determine differences between the period during the SARS-CoV-2 restrictions and before. In all, 222,157 children were seen in the three paediatric departments during this period. Of these, 3917 children were diagnosed with AGE. We found a decrease of 46.6% in AGE-related visits per month after the SARS-CoV-2 restrictions were introduced compared to before (p-value < 0.001). Positive stool samples decreased by 38.2% (p-value = 0.008) during the restrictions. This study found that cases of paediatric AGE decreased significantly the during COVID-19 restrictions, suggesting that studies should be conducted to determine whether this reduction was a result of good hand hygiene and social distancing or just a result of altered health-seeking behaviour among children.
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- stool sample