Conference paper Open Access

An index to map feasibility of social distancing within urban areas

Chamberlain, Heather; Lazar, Attila; Tatem, Andy

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought factors affecting disease transmission into the spotlight, and required widespread use of public health measures to reduce transmission and contain outbreaks. Urban areas inherently have large concentrations of people, providing high potential for large outbreaks and rapid disease spread, necessitating extensive use of measures to reduce transmission. Social distancing, also called physical distancing, is a public health measure intended to reduce infectious disease transmission, by maintaining physical distance between individuals or households. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, populations in many countries around the world have been advised to maintain social distance, with distances of 6ft or 2m commonly advised. The feasibility of social distancing is affected by the availability of space and the number of people, which varies geographically. In locations where social distancing is difficult, a focus on alternative measures to reduce disease transmission should be prioritised. To help identify and map such locations at high spatial resolution, this paper describes an index to quantify ease of social distancing, applied to urban areas across sub-Saharan Africa.

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