Quarantining infected people and their family members, closing
schools, and imposing workplace distancing and homeworking can all
limit the spread, the study found, but a combination of all three is
most effective in reducing cases.
The global number of confirmed cases passed 377,000 across 194
countries and territories as of 0200 GMT on Tuesday, according to a
Reuters tally, with more than 16,500 reported deaths.
Singapore, which according to the latest World Health Organization
(WHO) data had reported 455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and two
deaths as of March 22, has imposed some social distancing
recommendations but has not closed its schools.
Elsewhere, millions of children have seen their schools closed in
the United States, across much of Europe and in many other countries
as governments have imposed strict social lockdown measures to stop
people meeting and mingling in groups.
Published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, the study,
conducted by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS),
looked at a simulated Singapore setting to analyze the potential
impact of social distancing policies.
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It found that while less effective than the combined three-pronged approach,
quarantine plus workplace measures presented the next best option for reducing
COVID-19 cases, followed by quarantine plus school closure, and then quarantine
"The results of this study provide policy makers in Singapore and other
countries with evidence to begin the implementation of enhanced outbreak control
measures that could mitigate or reduce local transmission rates if deployed
effectively and in a timely manner," said Alex R Cook, an associate professor at
NUS who co-led the work.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Ed Osmond)
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