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Mitigating COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces and schools by hybrid telecommuting

Abstract : The COVID-19 epidemic has forced most countries to impose contact-limiting restrictions at workplaces, universities, schools, and more broadly in our societies. Yet, the effectiveness of these unprecedented interventions in containing the virus spread remain largely unquantified. Here, we develop a simulation study to analyze COVID-19 outbreaks on three real-life contact networks stemming from a workplace, a primary school and a high school in France. Our study provides a fine-grained analysis of the impact of contact-limiting strategies at workplaces, schools and high schools, including: (1) Rotating strategies, in which workers are evenly split into two shifts that alternate on a daily or weekly basis; and (2) On-Off strategies, where the whole group alternates periods of normal work interactions with complete telecommuting. We model epidemics spread in these different setups using a stochastic discrete-time agent-based transmission model that includes the coronavirus most salient features: super-spreaders, infectious asymptomatic individuals, and pre-symptomatic infectious periods. Our study yields clear results: the ranking of the strategies, based on their ability to mitigate epidemic propagation in the network from a first index case, is the same for all network topologies (workplace, primary school and high school). Namely, from best to worst: Rotating week-by-week, Rotating day-by-day, On-Off week-by-week, and On-Off day-by-day. Moreover, our results show that below a certain threshold for the original local reproduction number within the network (< 1.52 for primary schools, < 1.30 for the workplace, < 1.38 for the high school, and < 1.55 for the random graph), all four strategies efficiently control outbreak by decreasing effective local reproduction number to < 1. These results can provide guidance for public health decisions related to telecommuting.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 2:54:14 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 11, 2022 - 11:16:03 AM
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Simon Mauras, Vincent Cohen-Addad, Guillaume Duboc, Max Dupré La Tour, Paolo Frasca, et al.. Mitigating COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces and schools by hybrid telecommuting. PLoS Computational Biology, Public Library of Science, 2021, 17 (8), pp.1-24. ⟨10.1371/journal.pcbi.1009264⟩. ⟨hal-03351623⟩

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