July 23, 2020

Impact of self-imposed, government-imposed prevention measures on mitigating, delaying COVID-19 epidemic

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

Self-imposed prevention measures such as hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing as well as government-imposed social distancing can help mitigate and delay a COVID-19 epidemic, this study from The Netherlands finds.

Researchers developed a computational model of the spread of COVID-19 based on known information about the epidemiology of the disease, and used the model to study the predicted effect of preventive measures on the number and timing of COVID-19 cases.


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The model showed that if a population quickly becomes aware of COVID-19 and prevention measures, self-imposed prevention measures can diminish and postpone the peak number of cases.

If the efficacy of self-imposed measures exceedes 50%, a large epidemic can be prevented. If self-imposed measures are slow to catch on, they may reduce the number of cases but not delay a peak.

Early implementation of government-imposed social distancing was found to delay but not reduce the peak. Combining self-imposed prevention measures with government-imposed social distancing has the potential to both delay and shrink the peak of the epidemic.

Disease awareness is very important in controlling the ongoing epidemic, the researchers say, and they recommend that government and public health institutions mobilize people to adopt self-imposed measures in order to successfully tackle COVID-19.

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