A cost-based comparison of quarantine strategies for new emerging diseases
ABSTRACT A classical epidemiological framework is used to provide a preliminary cost analysis of the effects of quarantine and isolation on the dynamics of infectious diseases for which no treatment or immediate diagnosis tools are available. Within this framework we consider the cost incurred from the implementation of three types of dynamic control strategies. Taking the context of the 2003 SARS outbreak in Hong Kong as an example, we use a simple cost function to compare the total cost of each mixed (quarantine and isolation) control strategy from a public health resource allocation perspective. The goal is to extend existing epi-economics methodology by developing a theoretical framework of dynamic quarantine strategies aimed at emerging diseases, by drawing upon the large body of literature on the dynamics of infectious diseases. We find that the total cost decreases with increases in the quarantine rates past a critical value, regardless of the resource allocation strategy. In the case of a manageable outbreak resources must be used early to achieve the best results whereas in case of an unmanageable outbreak, a constant-effort strategy seems the best among our limited plausible sets.