QJM. 2020 Jul 29:hcaa232. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcaa232. Online ahead of print.
Objective COVID-19 is a novel virus with continuously evolving transmission trends. Contact tracing and quarantining of positive cases are chief strategies of disease control that has been accepted globally. Though scientific knowledge regarding household transmission of the COVID-19 through contact of positive case is sparse. Current systematic review was planned to assess global statistics and characteristics of household secondary attack rate (SAR) of COVID-19. Methods Eligible articles were retrieved through search of - MEDLINE, SCOPUS and EMBASE for the period December 2019 to June 15th 2020. Search terms were developed to identify articles reporting household SARs in various countries. After initial screening of 326 articles, 13 eligible studies were included in the final evidence synthesis. Results We found that SAR varies widely across countries with lowest reported rate as 4.6% and highest as 49.56%. The rates were unaffected by confounders such as population of the country, lockdown status and geographic location. Review suggested greater vulnerability of spouse and elderly population for secondary transmission than other household members. It was also observed that quarantining and isolation are most effective strategies for prevention of the secondary transmission of the disease. Symptomatic status of the index case emerged to be a critical factor, with very low transmission probability during asymptomatic phase. Conclusion Present review findings recommend that adequate measures should be provided to protect the vulnerable population as only case tracing and quarantining might be insufficient. It should be combined with advisory for limiting household contacts and active surveillance for symptom onset.