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Modelling testing and response strategies for COVID-19 outbreaks in remote Australian Aboriginal communities

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journal contribution
posted on 27.09.2021, 08:02 by BB Hui, D Brown, Rebecca ChisholmRebecca Chisholm, N Geard, J McVernon, DG Regan
Background: Remote Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have potential to be severely impacted by COVID-19, with multiple factors predisposing to increased transmission and disease severity. Our modelling aims to inform optimal public health responses. Methods: An individual-based simulation model represented SARS-CoV2 transmission in communities ranging from 100 to 3500 people, comprised of large, interconnected households. A range of strategies for case finding, quarantining of contacts, testing, and lockdown were examined, following the silent introduction of a case. Results: Multiple secondary infections are likely present by the time the first case is identified. Quarantine of close contacts, defined by extended household membership, can reduce peak infection prevalence from 60 to 70% to around 10%, but subsequent waves may occur when community mixing resumes. Exit testing significantly reduces ongoing transmission. Concurrent lockdown of non-quarantined households for 14 days is highly effective for epidemic control and reduces overall testing requirements; peak prevalence of the initial outbreak can be constrained to less than 5%, and the final community attack rate to less than 10% in modelled scenarios. Lockdown also mitigates the effect of a delay in the initial response. Compliance with lockdown must be at least 80–90%, however, or epidemic control will be lost. Conclusions: A SARS-CoV-2 outbreak will spread rapidly in remote communities. Prompt case detection with quarantining of extended-household contacts and a 14 day lockdown for all other residents, combined with exit testing for all, is the most effective strategy for rapid containment. Compliance is crucial, underscoring the need for community supported, culturally sensitive responses.

History

Publication Date

08/09/2021

Journal

BMC Infectious Diseases

Volume

21

Issue

1

Article Number

929

Pagination

12p.

Publisher

Springer

ISSN

1471-2334

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The Author reserves all moral rights over the deposited text and must be credited if any re-use occurs. Documents deposited in OPAL are the Open Access versions of outputs published elsewhere. Changes resulting from the publishing process may therefore not be reflected in this document. The final published version may be obtained via the publisher’s DOI. Please note that additional copyright and access restrictions may apply to the published version.

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