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Restricting Activities in Wuhan Until April Could Slow COVID-19 Peak

Sustaining physical distancing measures until April would be beneficial for delaying, reducing height of peak

THURSDAY, March 26, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Restriction on activities in Wuhan would help to delay the COVID-19 epidemic peak if maintained until April, according to a study published online March 25 in The Lancet Public Health.

In an effort to examine the impact on outbreak progression, Kiesha Prem, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and colleagues used synthetic location-specific contact patterns in Wuhan and adapted these in the presence of school closures, extended workplace closures, and reduction in mixing in the general community. Using an age-structured susceptible-exposed-infected-removed model for several physical distancing measures, the ongoing trajectory of outbreak was simulated. Lifting of the control measures was also simulated and the effects of returning to work were examined.

The researchers note that physical distancing measures were projected to be most effective if the staggered return to work was at the start of April; this reduced the median number of infections by more than 92 and 24 percent in mid- and end-2020, respectively. In terms of delaying and reducing the height of the peak, median epidemic size at end-2020, and affording health care systems more time to expand and respond, benefits were seen for sustaining these measures until April. There was variation noted in the modeled effects of physical distancing measures based on the duration of infectiousness and the role of school children in the epidemic.

"Such models and projections should be made available in the public domain without delay to inspire public trust and allow wider potentially beneficial input," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

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