Study identifies 275 ways to reduce spread of coronavirus after lockdown

Researchers said they have identified 275 ways to reduce the spread of coronavirus once lockdown measures are lifted.

Phased reopening of schools, businesses and open spaces should be considered alongside a range of practical ways to keep people physically apart, a new study suggests.

The research did not consider medical possibilities when compiling the 275 measures.

The study does not offer recommendations but the scientists said a shortlist of the most appropriate options for specific regions and contexts should be considered in terms of their likely effectiveness, cost, practicality and fairness.

Professor William Sutherland, from the University of Cambridge’s department of zoology, who led the study, said: “There’s increasing pressure to reopen the economy and get people back to work and out of isolation.

“But if we return to operating as we did before the pandemic, there will be a second wave of the virus.

“All activities will need to be considered individually, and phased back in carefully, depending on the risk they pose to spreading the virus.”

While strict lockdown measures are proving to be effective in controlling the spread of Covid-19 in many countries, they are putting a strain on the population’s mental and physical health, and on the economy.

A vaccine is unlikely to be available for at least 12 months.

Measures such as physical distancing, enhancing personal hygiene and reducing contamination are likely to remain central elements of all control strategies for some time, the researchers said.

The study, which has not been peer reviewed, lists the range of practical options available to achieve these measures.

This includes cafe owners opening outdoor areas only at first, and wiping down tables – spaced well apart – after each customer.

Coronavirus – Wed Apr 15, 2020
A view along Regent Street, London, as the UK continues in lockdown (Jonathan Brady/PA)

According to the study, access to public parks could be restricted to different age groups at different times of day, with gates left open so they do not need to be touched, and users asked to walk on the right side of the pavement or clockwise around large open spaces.

Other suggestions include patients with doctors’ appointments being asked to wait in their car outside the surgery until called in.

School classes could be split into smaller groups with dedicated teachers, who only go into school one week in every three.

Prof Sutherland said: “It’s basically about how to stop people hanging around together, and phasing in activities starting with the ones that are the safest.

“Making this happen will be up to the people responsible for every element of society.”

Identifying, assessing and applying a wide range of options could enable some of the stricter lockdown conditions to be lifted earlier, and make the transition period shorter, said the researchers.

A full list is available at covid-19.biorisc.com.

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