It really is as simple as one, two, three. A recent study published by the PLos Medicine journal shows that a few simple preventative measures can greatly impact the spread of COVID-19. These measures include washing hands regularly, wearing a mask and maintain social distancing.
“The model outcomes included the peak number of diagnoses, attack rate, and time until the peak number of diagnoses. For fast awareness spread in the population, self-imposed measures can significantly reduce the attack rate and diminish and postpone the peak number of diagnoses,” researchers wrote.
The study’s contact rates were based on the interactions of those living in the Netherlands, but the model is believed to also be appropriate for those who live in other Western countries, says the researchers from the University Medical Centre Utrecht, who also published the study.
“A large epidemic can be prevented if the efficacy of these measures exceeds 50%,” they wrote.
Even if the public is slow to change its behaviour, adopting these measures can reduce the number of cases. This being said, it cannot delay a peak in the number of cases according to the model. A three-month intervention would delay the peak by, at most, seven months.
If government-imposed physical distancing was combined with disease awareness and personal steps, the height of the peak could be reduced, even after government-imposed social distancing orders were lifted.
“Moreover, the effect of combinations of self-imposed measures is additive,” the researchers said. “In practical terms, it means that SARS-CoV-2 will not cause a large outbreak in a country where 90% of the population adopts handwashing and social distancing that are 25% efficacious.”
According to the authors, governments must educate the public on how the virus spreads and ensure that they raise awareness on how crucial social distancing is, as well as hand washing and wearing masks.