Effectiveness of social distancing measures and lockdowns for reducing transmission of COVID-19 in non-healthcare, community-based settings

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  • Caitriona Murphy
  • Wey Wen Lim
  • Cathal Mills
  • Jessica Y. Wong
  • Dongxuan Chen
  • Yanmy Xie
  • Mingwei Li
  • Susan Gould
  • Hualei Xin
  • Justin K. Cheung
  • Bhatt, Samir
  • Benjamin J. Cowling
  • Christl A. Donnelly
Social distancing measures (SDMs) are community-level interventions that aim to reduce person-to-person contacts in the community. SDMs were a major part of the responses first to contain, then to mitigate, the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the community. Common SDMs included limiting the size of gatherings, closing schools and/or workplaces, implementing work-from-home arrangements, or more stringent restrictions such as lockdowns. This systematic review summarized the evidence for the effectiveness of nine SDMs. Almost all of the studies included were observational in nature, which meant that there were intrinsic risks of bias that could have been avoided were conditions randomly assigned to study participants. There were no instances where only one form of SDM had been in place in a particular setting during the study period, making it challenging to estimate the separate effect of each intervention. The more stringent SDMs such as stay-at-home orders, restrictions on mass gatherings and closures were estimated to be most effective at reducing SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Most studies included in this review suggested that combinations of SDMs successfully slowed or even stopped SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the community. However, individual effects and optimal combinations of interventions, as well as the optimal timing for particular measures, require further investigation.

This article is part of the theme issue 'The effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions on the COVID-19 pandemic: the evidence'.
TidsskriftPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Udgave nummer2257
Antal sider29
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by a grant from the Royal Society. C.Mi. is supported by a studentship from the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. B.J.C. is supported by the Theme-based Research Scheme (Project no. T11-705/21-N) of the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR Government and the Collaborative Research Scheme (Project no. C7123-20G) of the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR Government. C.A.D. is supported by the UK National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections in partnership with Public Health England (PHE), Grant Number: HPRU200907. Acknowledgements

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© 2023 The Authors.

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