Travel Restrictions Found to Reduce Global Spread of COVID-19


Entry bans, travel bans and lock downs all helped to curb the spread of the virus.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has found that travel restrictions help to reduce the global spread of COVID-19 and that coordinated restrictions early in the pandemic likely would have reduced cases further.

Results from the study were published in the journal Communications Physics.

"This is considered a global problem," Mamadou Diagne, an assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer said. "So, we wanted to know if coordinated action could be taken to mitigate contamination rates all across the world."

For the study, the investigators mapped and analyzed the network of global mobility using air traffic patterns, as well as evaluated the distance between countries, instead of simply measuring the distances between countries.

By doing this, they were able to determine the level of connection between different countries and developed a model that could predict which countries are closer to one another in terms of disease spread.

Findings from the study showed that the early travel restrictions in China reduced the arrival time of the virus by 10 days and reduced infections by 6 million globally. Restrictions implemented by other countries, like entry bans, travel bans and lock downs also helped to reduce the spread of the virus.

However, they additionally found that if restrictions were implemented earlier and if countries worked together, it would have helped to curb the spread of the virus even more.

The model was also able to successfully predict when the virus arrived in the United States.

"According to the data we collected, about 63.2% percent of travel restrictions were ineffective," Lu Zhong, a postdoctoral researcher in mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering said. "Because the travel restrictions were done in an uncoordinated way, they failed to contribute to the global good."

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