COVID-19 Evidence Alerts
from McMaster PLUSTM

Current best evidence for clinical care (more info)

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Primary Prevention Nussbaumer-Streit B, Mayr V, Dobrescu AI, et al. Quarantine alone or in combination with other public health measures to control COVID-19: a rapid review. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020 Sep 15;9:CD013574. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD013574.pub2.

BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a rapidly emerging disease classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). To support the WHO with their recommendations on quarantine, we conducted a rapid review on the effectiveness of quarantine during severe coronavirus outbreaks.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of quarantine (alone or in combination with other measures) of individuals who had contact with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, who travelled from countries with a declared outbreak, or who live in regions with high disease transmission.

SEARCH METHODS: An information specialist searched the Cochrane COVID-19 Study Register, and updated the search in PubMed, Ovid MEDLINE, WHO Global Index Medicus, Embase, and CINAHL on 23 June 2020.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Cohort studies, case-control studies, time series, interrupted time series, case series, and mathematical modelling studies that assessed the effect of any type of quarantine to control COVID-19. We also included studies on SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) as indirect evidence for the current coronavirus outbreak.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two review authors independently screened abstracts and titles in duplicate. Two review authors then independently screened all potentially relevant full-text publications. One review author extracted data, assessed the risk of bias and assessed the certainty of evidence with GRADE and a second review author checked the assessment. We used three different tools to assess risk of bias, depending on the study design: ROBINS-I for non-randomised studies of interventions, a tool provided by Cochrane Childhood Cancer for non-randomised, non-controlled studies, and recommendations from the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) for modelling studies. We rated the certainty of evidence for the four primary outcomes: incidence, onward transmission, mortality, and costs.

MAIN RESULTS: We included 51 studies; 4 observational studies and 28 modelling studies on COVID-19, one observational and one modelling study on MERS, three observational and 11 modelling studies on SARS, and three modelling studies on SARS and other infectious diseases. Because of the diverse methods of measurement and analysis across the outcomes of interest, we could not conduct a meta-analysis and undertook a narrative synthesis. We judged risk of bias to be moderate for 2/3 non-randomized studies of interventions (NRSIs) and serious for 1/3 NRSI. We rated risk of bias moderate for 4/5 non-controlled cohort studies, and serious for 1/5. We rated modelling studies as having no concerns for 13 studies, moderate concerns for 17 studies and major concerns for 13 studies. Quarantine for individuals who were in contact with a confirmed/suspected COVID-19 case in comparison to no quarantine Modelling studies consistently reported a benefit of the simulated quarantine measures, for example, quarantine of people exposed to confirmed or suspected cases may have averted 44% to 96% of incident cases and 31% to 76% of deaths compared to no measures based on different scenarios (incident cases: 6 modelling studies on COVID-19, 1 on SARS; mortality: 2 modelling studies on COVID-19, 1 on SARS, low-certainty evidence). Studies also indicated that there may be a reduction in the basic reproduction number ranging from 37% to 88% due to the implementation of quarantine (5 modelling studies on COVID-19, low-certainty evidence). Very low-certainty evidence suggests that the earlier quarantine measures are implemented, the greater the cost savings may be (2 modelling studies on SARS). Quarantine in combination with other measures to contain COVID-19 in comparison to other measures without quarantine or no measures When the models combined quarantine with other prevention and control measures, such as school closures, travel restrictions and social distancing, the models demonstrated that there may be a larger effect on the reduction of new cases, transmissions and deaths than measures without quarantine or no interventions (incident cases: 9 modelling studies on COVID-19; onward transmission: 5 modelling studies on COVID-19; mortality: 5 modelling studies on COVID-19, low-certainty evidence). Studies on SARS and MERS were consistent with findings from the studies on COVID-19. Quarantine for individuals travelling from a country with a declared COVID-19 outbreak compared to no quarantine Very low-certainty evidence indicated that the effect of quarantine of travellers from a country with a declared outbreak on reducing incidence and deaths may be small for SARS, but might be larger for COVID-19 (2 observational studies on COVID-19 and 2 observational studies on SARS).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The current evidence is limited because most studies on COVID-19 are mathematical modelling studies that make different assumptions on important model parameters. Findings consistently indicate that quarantine is important in reducing incidence and mortality during the COVID-19 pandemic, although there is uncertainty over the magnitude of the effect. Early implementation of quarantine and combining quarantine with other public health measures is important to ensure effectiveness. In order to maintain the best possible balance of measures, decision makers must constantly monitor the outbreak and the impact of the measures implemented. This review was originally commissioned by the WHO and supported by Danube-University-Krems. The update was self-initiated by the review authors.

Discipline / Specialty Area Score
Pediatric Neonatology
Hospital Doctor/Hospitalists
Internal Medicine
Public Health
Pediatric Hospital Medicine
Comments from MORE raters

Pediatric Hospital Medicine rater

Most of the evaluated studies are represented in the results of mathematical model studies. We are still in a stage where the evidence will be the product of retrospective observation of the actions taken by governments. It is interesting to have an approximation through this review. In future, the results of this review will definitely be of greater relevance to decision makers. The impact of vaccines will be a relevant intervention to take into account.

Pediatric Neonatology rater

The review is weakened by being so reliant on modelling studies. I think most doctors believe/know that quarantine decreases spread of contagious diseases. But with ongoing debate RE: Aerosol vs droplet; increasing infectivity of new strains, etc., I'm not sure how much we can depend on old models.