Social distancing keeps Covid-19 at bay; here’s the proof

Social distancing keeps Covid-19 at bay; here’s the proof

Kochi: Countries like India are battling hard to prevent community spread of novel coronavirus infection and effected a complete lockdown to fight the deadly Covid-19. A new study held in a simulated Singapore setting has underlined the importance of the tough measure in containing the virus spread.

The study, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, has found physical distancing interventions, comprising quarantine for infected individuals and their families, workplace distancing and school closure, are the most effective in reducing the number of novel coronavirus infections.

The quarantine plus workplace measures presented the next best option for reducing SARS-CoV-2 cases, followed by quarantine plus school closure, and then quarantine only, as per the first of its kind study on early intervention options.

The study found the combined approach could prevent a national outbreak at relatively low levels of infectivity (basic reproductivity value (R0) = 1.5), but at higher infectivity scenarios (R0 = 2.0 (considered moderate) and R0 = 2.5 (considered high)), outbreak prevention becomes considerably more challenging because although effective at reducing infections, transmission events still occur.

“Should local containment measures, such as preventing disease spread through contact tracing efforts and, more recently, not permitting short-term visitors, be unsuccessful, the results of this study provide policy makers in Singapore and other countries with evidence to begin the implementation of enhanced outbreak control measures that could mitigate or reduce local transmission rates if deployed effectively and in a timely manner," Dr Alex R Cook of the National University of Singapore, said in a statement.

The researchers estimated the cumulative number of SARS-CoV-2 infections at 80 days, after detection of 100 cases of community transmission, based on assessment of modal parameters such as how infectious an individual is over time, proportion of population assumed to be asymptomatic and the duration of hospital stay after the onset of symptoms.

In addition to a baseline scenario, which included no interventions, four intervention scenarios were proposed for implementation after failure of local containment: 1) isolation of infected individuals and quarantine of their family members (quarantine); 2) quarantine plus immediate school closure for 2 weeks; 3) quarantine plus immediate workplace distancing, in which 50% of the workforce is encouraged to work from home for 2 weeks; 4) a combination of quarantine, immediate school closure, and workplace distancing.

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