Mobility Restrictions and Social Distancing Help Curb COVID-19 Transmission

Mobility restrictions seem to be an effective strategy to control the coronavirus disease pandemic and leads to plummeting transmission, according to the latest study.

Photo: Mobility Restrictions | InStyleHealth

The data regarding COVID-19 mortality were sourced from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centers for Disease Control, while data for mobility were obtained from Apple and Google, which gathered movement or mobility information from mapping apps. There were 52 countries that had sufficient epidemiological and mobility data and were included in the analytical study.

Generally, the median mobility across all countries was lowest on 11th March 2020, during which the mobility was 63 percent lower than the established baseline. In turn, the virus’ effective reproduction number significantly declined, according to the statistical models. This was also true for the estimated reproduction number of fatalities.

Remarkably, by the second half of May 2020, there was a slight dissociating of mobility and transmissibility. As movement started to gradually increase, so did the transmissibility, but at a slower pace than anticipated.

The researchers wanted to determine mobility thresholds that could retain the virus’ reproduction number below 1.0. Researchers discovered that, at least in the UK, an initial 43 percent mobility reduction would be required, however, after considering other social distancing behaviors, the threshold could be as low as 18 percent. The values varied largely for the different nations being assessed in the study.

“We found strong evidence that the relationship between mobility and transmissibility changed over time, typically, a dampening indicating that smaller reductions in mobility can result in epidemic control likely due to other social distancing behaviors,” according to researchers.

The researches also added, “As many countries are re-imposing social-distancing policies, our analysis illustrates that sustainable relaxation of population-wide social-distancing measures should be undertaken very carefully and replaced with equally effective control measures, such as thorough contact-tracing.”

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