Effective public health measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19: a systematic review

BMC Public Health. 2021 May 29;21(1):1015. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-11111-1.


Background: In December 2019, a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was recognized in Wuhan, China. It was characterised by rapid spread causing a pandemic. Multiple public health interventions have been implemented worldwide to decrease the transmission of the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The objective of this systematic review is to evaluate the implemented public health interventions to control the spread of the outbreak of COVID-19.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed, Science Direct and MedRxiv for relevant articles published in English up to March 16, 2021. We included quasi experimental studies, clinical trials, cohort studies, longitudinal studies, case-control studies and interrupted time series. We included the studies that investigated the effect of the implemented public health measures to prevent and control the outbreak of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Results: The database search using the predefined combinations of Mesh terms found 13,497 studies of which 3595 in PubMed, 7393 in Science Direct 2509 preprints in MedRxiv. After removal of the duplicates and the critical reading only 18 articles were included in this systematic review and processed for data extraction.

Conclusions: Public health interventions and non-pharmaceutical measurements were effective in decreasing the transmission of COVID-19. The included studies showed that travel restrictions, borders measures, quarantine of travellers arriving from affected countries, city lockdown, restrictions of mass gathering, isolation and quarantine of confirmed cases and close contacts, social distancing measures, compulsory mask wearing, contact tracing and testing, school closures and personal protective equipment use among health workers were effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Non-pharmaceutical measures; Prevention; Public heath interventions; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • SARS-CoV-2