Analysis of COVID-19 Transmission Sources in France by Self-Assessment Before and After the Partial Lockdown: Observational Study

J Med Internet Res. 2021 May 4;23(5):e26932. doi: 10.2196/26932.


Background: We developed a questionnaire on a web application for analyzing COVID-19 contamination circumstances in France during the second wave of the pandemic.

Objective: This study aims to analyze the impact on contamination characteristics before and after the second partial lockdown in France to adapt public health restrictions to further prevent pandemic surges.

Methods: Between December 15 and 24, 2020, after a national media campaign, users of the web application were asked questions about their own or a close relative's COVID-19 contamination after August 15, 2020, in France. The data of the contamination's circumstances were assessed and compared before and after the second partial lockdown, which occurred on October 25, 2020, during the second wave of the pandemic and was ongoing on December 24, 2020.

Results: As of December 24, 2020, 441,000 connections on the web application were observed. A total of 2218 questionnaires were assessable for analysis. About 61.8% (n=1309) of the participants were sure of their contamination origin, and 38.2% (n=809) thought they knew it. The median age of users was 43.0 (IQR 32-56) years, and 50.7% (n=1073) were male. The median incubation time of the assessed cohort was 4.0 (IQR 3-5) days. Private areas (family's or friend's house) were the main source of contamination (1048/2090, 50.2%), followed by work colleagues (579/2090, 27.7%). The main time of day for the contamination was the evening (339/961, 35.3%) before the lockdown and was reduced to 18.2% (86/473) after the lockdown (P<.001). The person who transmitted the virus to the user before and after the lockdown was significantly different (P<.001): a friend (382/1317, 29% vs 109/773, 14.1%), a close relative (304/1317, 23.1% vs 253/773, 32.7%), or a work colleague (315/1317, 23.9% vs 264/773, 34.2%). The main location where the virus was transmitted to the users before and after the lockdown was significantly different too (P<.001): home (278/1305, 21.3% vs 194/760, 25.5%), work (293/1305, 22.5% vs 225/760, 29.6%), collective places (430/1305, 33% vs 114/760, 15%), and care centers (58/1305, 4.4% vs 74/760, 9.7%).

Conclusions: Modalities of transmissions significantly changed before and after the second lockdown in France. The main sources of contamination remained the private areas and with work colleagues. Work became the main location of contamination after the lockdown, whereas contaminations in collective places were strongly reduced.

Trial registration: NCT04670003;

Keywords: COVID-19; France; analysis; digital health; impact; lockdown; observational; public health; self-assessment; survey; transmission; web application.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / transmission*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • Self-Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires

Associated data