Rapid assessment of the risk of SARS-CoV-2 importation: case study and lessons learned


Freya M. Shearer, James Walker, Nefel Tellioglu, James M. McCaw, Jodie McVernon, Andrew Black, Nicholas Geard

Epidemics, Volume 38, March 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epidem.2022.100549

During the early stages of an emerging disease outbreak, governments are required to make critical decisions on how to respond, despite limited data being available to inform these decisions. Analytical risk assessment is a valuable approach to guide decision-making on travel restrictions and border measures during the early phase of an outbreak. Here we describe a rapid risk assessment framework that was developed in February 2020 to support time-critical decisions on the risk of SARS-CoV-2 importation into Australia. We briefly describe the context in which our framework was developed, the framework itself, and provide an example of the type of decision support provided to the Australian government. We then report a critical evaluation of the modelling choices made in February 2020, assessing the impact of our assumptions on estimated rates of importation, and provide a summary of “lessons learned”. The framework presented and evaluated here provides a flexible approach to rapid assessment of importation risk, of relevance to current and future pandemic scenarios.

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