Changes in Occurrence of Diarrheal and Respiratory Diseases before and during COVID-19 Pandemic among Nepalese Population: A cross-sectional Study

  • Maheshor Kaphle
  • Anil Paudel
  • Laxmi Adhikari
  • Pratibha Shrestha
  • Santosh Khadka
  • Rajesh Karki
Keywords: COVID-19, Diarrheal diseases, Preventive measures, Prevalence, Respiratory diseases


Background: The government of Nepal has adopted a number of preventative and control measures to halt the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In this study, we aimed to determine whether the use of preventive and control measures such as hand washing, social distancing, lockdown implementation, and mask-wearing has significantly slowed down the spread of infectious diseases like diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses during the pandemic period.

Methods: A descriptive and cross-sectional study was conducted among 3086 participants across Nepal via electronic media from July 28 to August 30, 2020. The participants were asked to provide information about their experiences with diarrhoea and respiratory symptoms in the three months before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mc-Nemar test was used to compare the incidence of respiratory and diarrheal diseases before and during the pandemic period.

Results: Compared to before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, vomiting (3.3%), diarrhoea (7.3%) and abdominal pain (12.1%) decreased to 2.8%, 6.9%, and 6.1%, respectively. Between two concurrent periods, such as before the onset and during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the prevalence of dysentery and stomach pain was statistically different (p-value< 0.001).As the prevalence of the common cold decreased from 30.2% to 20.3%, so did that of sore throats (15.1% to 10.6%), coughs/chest pain (8.3% to 5.6%), dyspnoea (2.8% to 1.9%), and pneumonia (2.6% to 1.5%). This difference in the prevalence of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, sore throat, laryngitis/pharyngitis, cough/chest pain, dyspnoea, and pneumonia were statistically significant.

Conclusion: Upon comparing the COVID-19 period to the pre-pandemic period, it appeared that the symptoms of diseases like diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses were on the decline. Therefore, we can conclude that the Government of Nepal's preventive measures for COVID-19 have helped to reduce the prevalence of such diseases