The role of social distancing measures in mitigating pandemic influenza is not precisely understood. To this end, we have conducted a systematised review, particularly in light of the 2009 pandemic influenza, to better inform the role of social distancing measures against pandemic influenza. Articles were identified from relevant databases and the data were synthesised to provide evidence on the role of school or work place-based interventions, case-based distancing (self-isolation, quarantine), and restriction of mobility and mass gatherings. School closure, whether proactive or reactive, appears to be moderately effective and acceptable in reducing the transmission of influenza and in delaying the peak of an epidemic but is associated with very high secondary costs. Voluntary home isolation and quarantine are also effective and acceptable measures but there is an increased risk of intra-household transmission from index cases to contacts. Work place-related interventions like work closure and home working are also modestly effective and are acceptable, but likely to be economically disruptive. Internal mobility restriction is effective only if prohibitively high (50% of travel) restrictions are applied and mass gatherings occurring within 10 days before the epidemic peak are likely to increase the risk of transmission of influenza.
Keywords: Evidence compendium; Home isolation; Internal mobility restriction; Pandemic influenza; Quarantine; Restriction of mass gatherings; School Closure; Social distancing measures; Work-place related interventions..
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