Study concludes air travel restrictions would delay pandemic

A new study examining the 2009 influenza A pandemic points to air travel restrictions as an efficient means to slow the incidence rate of a new influenza pandemic.

The study evaluated the impact of regulating air, sea and land transport, as well as other government strategies, including antiviral medication distribution and hospitalization. The researchers found travel restrictions to be especially efficient in the early stages of a pandemic, according to

The researchers used arrivals to Hong Kong from 44 countries to develop a model to determine the potential number of latent and infectious disease carriers that entered or exited during the pandemic. They then compared the effect of travel restrictions with other prevention strategies to determine their efficiency.

The study, published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, found that immediate air travel restrictions on 99 percent of flights delayed the epidemic peak up to two weeks. In the model, once the pandemic peaked in China, Hong Kong became especially vulnerable and antivirals and hospitalization became more reliable to reduce infection rates, reports.

The authors concluded that a combination of strategies could work well together. Immediate travel restrictions, especially on air travel, would delay the advance of the illness long enough to establish a working and efficient vaccination program.