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Review: physical interventions may reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses

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Do physical interventions (isolation, barriers and hygiene) reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses?

Review scope

Studies were selected which compared physical interventions to prevent transmission of respiratory viruses and controls with no intervention. Outcomes included deaths, cases of viral illness, severity of viral illness and clinical symptoms.

Review methods

The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE, OLDMEDLINE, CINAHL and archives of the MRC Common Cold Unit were searched for any comparative study to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses: randomised controlled trials (RCTs), cohort studies, case–control studies, and controlled before and after studies (CBAs). References of included studies were checked. No language restrictions were applied. The quality of included studies was assessed based on their design, with a component check for randomised trials, the Newcastle–Ottawa scale for observational studies, and a three-point checklist for CBAs. Sixty studies were included.

Main results

The 60 studies described various interventions (including isolation, quarantine, social distancing, …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.