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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Washington: Effectiveness of Travel Bans – Readily Used During Infectious Disease Outbreaks – Mostly Unknown, Study Finds

While travel bans are frequently used to stop the spread of an emerging infectious disease, such as the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, a new University of Washington and Johns Hopkins University study of published research found that the effectiveness of travel bans is mostly unknown.

However, said lead author Dr. Nicole Errett, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, that’s largely due to the fact that very little research into the effectiveness of travel bans exists.

“Some of the evidence suggests that a travel ban may delay the arrival of an infectious disease in a country by days or weeks. However, there is very little evidence to suggest that a travel ban eliminates the risk of the disease crossing borders in the long term,” Dr. Errett said.

The researchers combed through thousands of published articles in an effort to identify those that directly addressed travel bans used to reduce the geographic impact of the Ebola virus, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and the Zika virus. They did not include studies of influenza viruses, for which travel bans have already been shown to be ineffective in the long term.

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