Social distancing is the best way to check corona spread: Singapore study

People world over must be getting worried and bored over the social distancing and stringent lockdowns. But a new study in Singapore reaffirms that it is the best way to check the spread of corona virus.

The study found that a combined approach of physical distancing interventions, comprising quarantine (for infected individuals and their families), school closure, and workplace distancing, is most effective at reducing the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases compared with other intervention scenarios included in the study.

The research, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, found that the combined approach could prevent a national outbreak at relatively low levels of infectivity.

Dr Alex R Cook, National University of Singapore, said: “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.”

The study also analysed other options like isolation of infected individuals and quarantine of their family members (quarantine); quarantine plus immediate school closure for 2 weeks; quarantine plus immediate workplace distancing, in which 50% of the workforce is encouraged to work from home for 2 weeks.

The combined intervention was the most effective, reducing the estimated median number of infections by 99.3% when R0 was 1.5 (resulting in an estimated 1,800 cases).

Dr Alex R Cook added: “If the preventive effect of these interventions reduces considerably due to higher asymptomatic proportions, more pressure will be placed on the quarantining and treatment of infected individuals, which could become unfeasible when the number of infected individuals exceeds the capacity of health-care facilities. At higher asymptomatic rates, public education and case management become increasingly important, with a need to develop vaccines and existing drug therapies.”


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