Impact of Self-Imposed Prevention Measures and Short-Term Government Intervention on Mitigating and Delaying a COVID-19 Epidemic
20 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2020More...
Background: With new cases of COVID-19 surging around the world, some countries may have to prepare for moving beyond the containment phase. Prediction of the effectiveness of non-case-based interventions for mitigating, delaying or preventing the epidemic is urgent, especially for countries affected by the increased seasonal influenza activity.
Methods: We developed a transmission model to evaluate the impact of self-imposed prevention measures (handwashing, mask-wearing, and social distancing) due to COVID-19 awareness and of short-term government-imposed social distancing on the peak number of diagnoses, attack rate and time until the peak number of diagnoses.
Findings: For fast awareness spread in the population, self-imposed measures can significantly reduce the attack rate, diminish and postpone the peak number of diagnoses. A large epidemic can be prevented if the efficacy of these measures exceeds $50\%$. For slow awareness spread, self-imposed measures reduce the peak number of diagnoses and attack rate but do not affect the timing of the peak. Early implementation of short-term government interventions can only delay the peak.
Interpretation: Handwashing, mask-wearing and social distancing as a reaction to information dissemination about COVID-19 can be effective strategies to mitigate and delay the epidemic. We stress the importance of a rapid spread of awareness on the use of self-imposed prevention measures in the population. Early-initiated short-term government-imposed social distancing can buy time for healthcare systems to prepare for an increasing COVID-19 burden.
Funding Statement: This research was funded by ZonMw project 91216062, One Health EJP H2020 project 773830, Aidsfonds project P-29704.
Declaration of Interests: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; COVID-19; mathematical model; prevention measures; disease awareness; epidemic control; social distancing; handwashing; mask-wearing; public health
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