Influenza virus infections are believed to spread mostly by close contact in the community. Social distancing measures are essential components of the public health response to influenza pandemics. The objective of these mitigation measures is to reduce transmission, thereby delaying the epidemic peak, reducing the size of the epidemic peak, and spreading cases over a longer time to relieve pressure on the healthcare system. We conducted systematic reviews of the evidence base for effectiveness of multiple mitigation measures: isolating ill persons, contact tracing, quarantining exposed persons, school closures, workplace measures/closures, and avoiding crowding. Evidence supporting the effectiveness of these measures was obtained largely from observational studies and simulation studies. Voluntary isolation at home might be a more feasible social distancing measure, and pandemic plans should consider how to facilitate this measure. More drastic social distancing measures might be reserved for severe pandemics.
Keywords: influenza; influenza viruses; nonhealthcare settings; nonpharmaceutical measures; pandemic; pandemic influenza; public health; respiratory infections; social distancing measures; viruses.