COVID-19 outbreak lasts days longer for each day's delay in social distancing

Jun 02, 2020

New Delhi, June 03 (ANI): A new analysis of COVID-19 outbreaks in 58 cities has found that places that took longer to begin implementing social distancing measures spent more time with the virus rapidly spreading than others that acted more quickly. In a new paper from epidemiological researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, now in press with the CDC's journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers studied cities throughout China and analyzed when first cases were detected, when social distancing measures were implemented and when the outbreak was considered contained. The team found that every day a city delayed in implementing social distancing measures after the appearance of a first case added 2.4 days to the length of the outbreak. To determine when an outbreak had been contained, scientists look at case counts and determine the reproduction number, a measurement that shows how many people will be infected by one infectious person. If the reproduction number drops below 1, scientists consider the outbreak contained. Other studies into the impact of delaying social distancing measures have used modeling to estimate a link between the time of measures being taken and the effect on outbreaks. By contrast, this study used on-the-ground data to determine the link between cities taking measures to contain the virus and rates of the virus spreading. The study was not able to determine which social distancing measures were most effective, but it showed that the timing of the first measure, regardless of the type, had a big impact.