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Title: Reopening international borders without quarantine : contact tracing integrated policy against COVID-19
Authors: Yu, Z 
Zhu, X 
Liu, X 
Wei, T
Yuan, HY
Xu, Y 
Zhu, R 
He, H
Wang, H
Wong, MS 
Jia, P 
Guo, S 
Shi, W 
Chen, W 
Issue Date: Jul-2021
Source: International journal of environmental research and public health, July 2021, v. 18, no. 14, 7494
Abstract: With the COVID-19 vaccination widely implemented in most countries, propelled by the need to revive the tourism economy, there is a growing prospect for relieving the social distancing regulation and reopening borders in tourism-oriented countries and regions. This need incentivizes stakeholders to develop border control strategies that fully evaluate health risks if mandatory quaran-tines are lifted. In this study, we have employed a computational approach to investigate the contact tracing integrated policy in different border-reopening scenarios in Hong Kong, China. Explicitly, by reconstructing the COVID-19 transmission from historical data, specific scenarios with joint effects of digital contact tracing and other concurrent measures (i.e., controlling arrival population and community nonpharmacological interventions) are applied to forecast the future development of the pandemic. Built on a modified SEIR epidemic model with a 30% vaccination coverage, the results suggest that scenarios with digital contact tracing and quick isolation intervention can reduce the infectious population by 92.11% compared to those without contact tracing. By further restricting the inbound population with a 10,000 daily quota and applying moderate-to-strong community nonpharmacological interventions (NPIs), the average daily confirmed cases in the forecast period of 60 days can be well controlled at around 9 per day (95% CI: 7–12). Two main policy recommendations are drawn from the study. First, digital contact tracing would be an effective countermeasure for reducing local virus spread, especially when it is applied along with a moderate level of vaccination coverage. Second, implementing a daily quota on inbound travelers and restrictive community NPIs would further keep the local infection under control. This study offers scientific evidence and prospective guidance for developing and instituting plans to lift mandatory border control policies in preparing for the global economic recovery.
Keywords: Border reopening
Digital contact tracing
International travel
Publisher: Molecular Diversity Preservation International (MDPI)
Journal: International journal of environmental research and public health 
ISSN: 1661-7827
EISSN: 1660-4601
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18147494
Rights: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
The following publication Yu, Z.; Zhu, X.; Liu, X.; Wei, T.; Yuan, H.-Y.; Xu, Y.; Zhu, R.; He, H.; Wang, H.; Wong, M.S.; et al. Reopening International Borders without Quarantine: Contact Tracing Integrated Policy against COVID-19. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 7494 is available at
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