COVID-19 Spread Prevention: Literature Review

The COVID-19 pandemic poses an extraordinary challenge for healthcare systems around the world. Due to the novel character of the virus causing the disease, no cure is currently available, forcing healthcare providers and policymakers to focus on spread prevention (Güner et al., 2020). Such efforts are stymied by the virus’s high transmission rate, with studies suggesting that one afflicted individual may infect two to eight others (Diaz-Quijano et al., 2020, 43). Further complications arise from the widespread asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, limited herd resistance, and insufficient compliance (Asad et al., 2020). Those difficulties make it critical to assess the effectiveness of commonly employed prevention methods now that sufficient data has been gathered about their results. The present paper will examine the literature on different aspects of transmission prevention, such as social control measures, behavioral adjustments, and the use of protective equipment. The review will encompass primary sources from different countries to ensure a representative and informative sample. This review aims to investigate the current state of scientific knowledge about COVID-19 prevention and identify prospects for further research.

Social control measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19 among the population include the implementation of quarantines and travel restrictions. Quarantines, which involve the separation and observation of potentially infected individuals, have proven to be the single most effective prevention measure. An early study by Nussbaumer-Streit and others indicates that quarantines can almost halve infection and death rates (as cited in Güner et al., 2020, 575). Much of its effectiveness appears to hinge on the early implementation of strict quarantine rules (Güner et al., 2020). China’s experience containing the initial outbreak presents particular interest, as it involved especially drastic interventions that met with apparent success. Kraemer et al. (2020) have shown that the introduction of travel restrictions in and around Wuhan has disrupted the initial correlation between human mobility and COVID-19 incidence and significantly slowed its spread. Many other countries have since implemented travel restrictions for people arriving from high-risk locations and other risk groups, as well as facilitated testing to identify possible pandemic vectors (Güner et al., 2020). Early identification and the implementation of control measures seem indispensable for effective prevention.

Behavioral adjustments, such as social distancing and adherence to hygienic and sanitary rules, constitute one of the most common interventions carried out to combat the pandemic. Social distancing includes maintaining a maximum distance from others and avoiding large public gatherings. The high transmissibility of the virus necessitates maximum feasible social distancing, including a transition to remote work and study and minimal commercial activities (Diaz-Quijano et al., 2020). The outbreak report of Asad et al. (2020) illustrates the exceptionally high risks of infection that exist in healthcare settings due to the high concentration of COVID-19 patients, including infectious asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals. In such and similar cases where meetings cannot be avoided, the thorough observance of hand and cough hygiene is essential for minimizing the risk of human or airborne transmission, respectively (Asad et al., 2020). Cleaning high-touch areas such as door handle with bleach or ethanol solutions also helps slow the spread (Güner et al., 2020). The success of behavioral adjustments hinges on maximal adherence to the published rules from the entire community.

The use of protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and respirators has been accepted as a vital preventive measure in healthcare and everyday life. Asad et al. (2020) recommend the “liberal use of masks” (p. 6) in healthcare settings based on their study of a hospital outbreak. Fisman et al. (2020) confirm the substantial success of masks and other facial protection in reducing the rates of COVID-19 acquisition and transmission, especially in populations with low overall mask usage. An analysis performed by Chu and colleagues supports those findings, suggesting that mask use reduces the risk of viral infection by 85% (as cited in Fisman et al., 2020, p. 5). Hand sanitizer and portable gloves help maintain the abovementioned hygienic and sanitary standards (Güner et al., 2020). As such, the usefulness of protective equipment is not in doubt, though its availability may still pose problems.

Though several months have passed since the start of the pandemic, many of the questions connected to its spread and how it could be contained remain practically unanswered. In the absence of a cure, social control measures such as quarantines present the most promising option for containment, with studies of the early Chinese experience appearing to prove its efficacy. Maximal social distancing is necessary to further slow the spread, with the widespread observance of hygienic and sanitary rules proving indispensable insofar as contact cannot be avoided entirely. The effectiveness of using masks and other protective equipment has likewise been confirmed. Although all of those strategies have proven useful, the exact success rates of specific interventions are inevitably challenging to measure. As the pandemic continues to spread in different countries, more data will become available on the comparative effectiveness of various prevention strategies. More information on the long-term outcomes of prevention measures in countries that were afflicted earlier should emerge over time as well. That should make it possible to refine the current understanding of the utility of various social control measures, behavioral interventions, and protective equipment in pandemics.


Asad, H., Johnston, C., Blyth, I., Holborow, A., Bone, A., Porter, L., Tidswell, P., & Healy, B. (2020). Health care workers and patients as Trojan horses: a COVID19 ward outbreak. Infection Prevention in Practice. Web.

Diaz-Quijano, F. A., Rodriguez-Morales, A. J., & Waldman, E. A. (2020). Translating transmissibility measures into recommendations for coronavirus prevention. Revista de Saude Publica, 54, 43. Web.

Fisman, D. N., Greer, A. L., & Tuite, A. R. (2020). Brief research report: Bidirectional impact of imperfect mask use on reproduction number of COVID-19: A next-generation matrix approach. Infectious Disease Modelling. Web.

Güner, H. R., Hasanoğlu, I., & Aktaş, F. (2020). COVID-19: Prevention and control measures in the community. Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences, 50, 571-577. Web.

Kraemer, M. U., Yang, C. H., Gutierrez, B., Wu, C. H., Klein, B., Pigott, D. M., Du Plessis, L., Faria, N. R., Li, R., Hanage, W. P. and Brownstein, J. S., 2020. The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China. Science, 368(6490), pp.493-497. Web.

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NursingBird. "COVID-19 Spread Prevention: Literature Review." March 25, 2022.