Covid-19 -ICMR Mathematical Model Shows Home Quarantine Can Be Highly Effective
A mathematical modelling done on spread of COVID-19 infection
by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) suggests that entry screening of
travellers with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 can delay the introduction of
the virus into the community by three days to three weeks. Strictly implemented
social distancing measures such as home quarantine of symptomatics and
suspected cases will reduce the overall expected number of cases by 62% and the
peak number of cases by 89%, thus “flattening” the curve and providing more
opportunities for interventions.
These model projections are subject to substantial uncertainty and can be further refined as more needs to be understood about the rate at which infection of this novel virus transmits among susceptible individuals.
It was assumed that symptomatic quarantine would identify and
quarantine 50 per cent of symptomatic individuals within three days of
developing symptoms. In an optimistic scenario of the basic reproduction number
(R00) being 1.5, and asymptomatic infections lacking any infectiousness, such
measures would reduce the cumulative incidence by 62 per cent. In the
pessimistic scenario of R0=4, and asymptomatic infections being half as
infectious as symptomatic, this projected impact falls to two per cent.
Interpretation & conclusions: Port-of-entry-based entry
screening of travellers with suggestive clinical features and from
COVID-19-affected countries, would achieve modest delays in the introduction of
the virus into the community. Acting alone, however, such measures would be
insufficient to delay the outbreak by weeks or longer. Once the virus
establishes transmission within the community, quarantine of symptomatics may have
a meaningful impact on disease burden. Model projections are subject to
substantial uncertainty and can be further refined as more is understood about
the natural history of infection of this novel virus. As a public health
measure, health system and community preparedness would be critical to control
any impending spread of COVID-19 in the country.
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