The impact of social distancing, contact tracing, and case isolation interventions to suppress the COVID-19 epidemic: A modeling study.


Our study sample included 1,218 symptomatic cases with COVID-19, of which 664 had no inter-province travel history. Results suggest that 36.5 % (95 % CI, 12.8-57.1) of contacts were quarantined, and approximately five days (95 % CI, 2.2-11.0) were needed to detect and isolate a case. As contact networks would increase after societal and economic reopening, avoiding a second wave without strengthening nonpharmaceutical interventions compared to the first wave it would be exceedingly difficult.

Most countries are dependent on nonpharmaceutical public health interventions such as social distancing, contact tracing, and case isolation to mitigate COVID-19 spread until medicines or vaccines widely available. Minimal research has been performed on the independent and combined impact of each of these interventions based on empirical case data.

Continuous attention and further improvement of nonpharmaceutical interventions are needed in second-wave prevention. Specifically, contact tracing merits further attention.

We obtained data from all confirmed COVID-19 cases from January 7th to February 22nd 2020 in Zhejiang Province, China, to fit an age-stratified compartmental model using human contact information before and during the outbreak. The effectiveness of social distancing, contact tracing, and case isolation was studied and compared in simulation. We also simulated a two-phase reopening scenario to assess whether various strategies combining nonpharmaceutical interventions are likely to achieve population-level control of a second-wave epidemic.

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