Using Mathematical Models to Assess Responses to an Outbreak of an Emerged Viral Respiratory Disease

7.3 The importance of rapid responses

Page last updated: April 2006

Our calculations indicate that for every intervention the benefit is greatest, and often considerable, when it is introduced as early as possible. Indeed, upon identification of the first Australian case, we should respond as quickly as possible with every feasible intervention, in the affected Australian location. A big response at the very beginning maximises the chance of achieving elimination of a new outbreak, especially so because the available resources can be focused on relatively few cases and their contacts. A big effort at the start is also a good way to delay the peak of the local epidemic if elimination can not be sustained.

If border control is introduced this should also occur early, because its value once the local epidemic has gathered momentum is minimal. In particular, if mass quarantine (or partial home quarantine) of arriving passengers is contemplated, then this should occur at the beginning. It serves little point once the local epidemic has gathered momentum with little prospect of elimination.

Rapid response means that the period for which we need to keep R below 1, to eliminate an outbreak, is shorter. A shorter period of intervention also means that the drain on the AV stockpile is less.

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