Background: Despite substantial resources deployed to curb SARS-CoV-2 transmission, controlling the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge. New variants of the virus are frequently emerging leading to new waves of infection and re-introduction of control measures. In this study, we assessed the effectiveness of containment strategies implemented in the early phase of the pandemic. Methods: Real-world data for COVID-19 cases was retrieved for the period Jan 1 to May 1, 2020 from a number of different sources, including PubMed, MEDLINE, Facebook, Epidemic Forecasting and Google Mobility Reports. We analyzed data for 18 countries/regions that deployed containment strategies such as travel restrictions, lockdowns, stay-at-home requests, school/public events closure, social distancing, and exposure history information management (digital contact tracing, DCT). Primary outcome measure was the change in the number of new cases over 30 days before and after deployment of a control measure. We also compared the effectiveness of centralized versus decentralized DCT. Time series data for COVID-19 were analyzed using Mann-Kendall (M-K) trend tests to investigate the impact of these measures on changes in the number of new cases. The rate of change in the number of new cases was compared using M-K z-values and Sen's slope. Results: In spite of the widespread implementation of conventional strategies such as lockdowns, travel restrictions, social distancing, school closures, and stay-at-home requests, analysis revealed that these measures could not prevent the spread of the virus. However, countries which adopted DCT with centralized data storage were more likely to contain the spread. Conclusions: Centralized DCT was more effective in containing the spread of COVID-19. Early implementation of centralized DCT should be considered in future outbreaks. However, challenges such as public acceptance, data security and privacy concerns will need to be addressed.
- Containment strategies
- Digital contact tracing
- Exposure history information management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases