School closures reduced spread of coronavirus by 40-60 percent: Wuhan research
Schools and educational institutions around the world have temporarily shut to contain the spread of coronavirus. But how effective have been these closures on slowing the spread of Covid-19?
Research from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pathogen first broke out, says proactive school closures could reduce peak incidence by 40-60 percent and delay the epidemic.
The study which explores how the changes in contact patterns have shaped the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in China has recently been published in the Science Magazine.
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Chinese authorities ordered schools and universities as well as businesses close following a cluster of coronavirus cases in Wuhan, in a bid to contain the outbreak.
The study examines the impact aggressive social distancing measures and school closure on containing the transmission in Wuhan and Shanghai.
Although children were much less likely to be infected, their high rates of contact made them a vector. Where schools remained open, children had about three times as many contacts as adults and three times as many opportunities to become infected. But school closures potentially reduced it 40-60 percent, the study said.
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Researchers developed a model to estimate the impact using data on how often people interact and where. The have analyzed contact surveys data for Wuhan and Shanghai before and during the outbreak and contact tracing information from Hunan province.
“Daily contacts were reduced 7-8-fold during the COVID-19 social distancing period, with most interactions restricted to the household,” the study said.
These findings are relevant to the choice of control policies for governments and policy makers at a time when countries around the world are easing lockdowns.
The study also found out that children 0-14 years were less susceptible to coronavirus infection than adults 15-64 years of age; individuals over 65 years were more susceptible to infection.
Researchers from the Norwich-based University of East Anglia also found that closing schools was one of the most effective methods of controlling the virus.
According to the study that looked at the success of different social distancing measures across 30 European countries, closing schools across Europe was the most effective intervention for bringing COVID-19 under control.