Physical Distancing Most Effective in Reducing COVID-19 Cases


Sarah Peddie

A Singapore modelling study has stated that the impact of physical distancing is the most effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

A new modelling study which was conducted and simulated in Singapore has come to the conclusion that a combined approach of physical distancing, quarantine, school closures and workplace distancing is the most effective way of reducing the number of COVID-19 cases.

Quarantine plus workplace measures was the second best option to take after the combined approach. Followed by quarantine plus school closures and then quarantine only. 

Researchers found that all the intervention scenarios above were more effective at reducing the cases rather than no intervention. 

The study found that the combined approach could prevent a national outbreak at low levels of infectivity but in higher infectivity scenarios, the outbreak prevention becomes a lot harder to control although effective at reducing infection numbers, transmissions events still occur. 

If there were no interventions present then four intervention scenarios were proposed after the failure of local containment:

  • Isolation of infected individuals and quarantine of their family members. 
  • 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. 
  • A combination of quarantine, immediate school closure, and workplace distancing.

These interventions follow some policy options that are currently being put in place by the Singaporean Ministry of Health - which are considered standard interventions for respiratory virus control.

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