Cochrane corner: Effectiveness of quarantine in reducing the spread of COVID-19

Ryan J.,
Mazingisa A.V.,
Wiysonge C.S.
Document Type
Source Title
Pan African Medical Journal
African Field Epidemiology Network


Introduction: there is no effective vaccine against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at present, so non-pharmacological interventions like quarantine are advocated to control its spread. Quarantine refers to the restriction of the movement of asymptomatic healthy people who have had contact with cases of a communicable disease. We highlight a Cochrane rapid review, published in April 2020, on the effectiveness of quarantine in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Methods: the authors of the Cochrane rapid review searched multiple electronic databases for studies of any design, which assessed the effects of quarantine compared to no intervention. Eligible participants for the review included contacts of confirmed or suspected cases and people returning from countries with a declared outbreak of COVID-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). The authors used the evidence from SARS and MERS studies to provide indirect evidence on COVID-19. Results: the authors included 29 observational and mathematical modelling studies and found that quarantine may lead to substantial reductions in new COVID-19 cases and deaths. The review also shows that combining school closures, travel bans and social distancing to quarantine may lead to larger reductions in cases and deaths. Conclusion: the review suggests that quarantine should be part of the COVID-19 combination prevention tool kit for Africa. Therefore, in addition to other public health measures, African countries should roll out COVID-19 testing to identify, isolate and treat infected people and quarantine their contacts. © Jill Ryan et al.

Migration angle
Region/Country (by coverage)
Index Keywords

Africa; Article; clinical effectiveness; communicable disease control; contact examination; coronavirus disease 2019; cost control; epidemic; evidence based medicine; human; infection control; mathematical model; Middle East respiratory syndrome; mortality; public health; quarantine; school closure; severe acute respiratory syndrome; social control; social distancing; travel ban; virus identification; virus isolation