Can ban on air travel protect against epidemic spread?

February 17, 2020  23:36

Many countries have stopped or significantly limited transport links with China to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, said in new study published in the Journal of Emergency Management.

There is some evidence that a travel ban can delay an infection from entering a country for days or weeks. But there is very little evidence that such a restriction prevents infection from spreading across the border for a long time, said co-author of a new study, Nicole Errett of the University of Washington.

Specialists analyzed the data of many studies to understand how effective travel bans are in preventing the spread of ebolavirus, Zika virus and coronaviruses (data on outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome and the Middle East respiratory syndrome were taken into account).

Research that dealt with influenza viruses was not considered as this measure has long been recognized as ineffective for these viruses.

Scientists found only six studies that evaluate the long-term effect of a travel ban. However, all of them are based not on real results of preventive measures, but on modeling situations. This means that there is no accurate and scientific data on this today, experts noted adding that they urgently need such data.

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