Article Text

Original research
Travel-related control measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic: an evidence map
  1. Ani Movsisyan1,2,
  2. Jacob Burns1,2,
  3. Renke Biallas1,2,
  4. Michaela Coenen1,2,
  5. Karin Geffert1,2,
  6. Olaf Horstick3,
  7. Irma Klerings4,
  8. Lisa Maria Pfadenhauer1,2,
  9. Peter von Philipsborn1,2,
  10. Kerstin Sell1,2,
  11. Brigitte Strahwald1,2,
  12. Jan M Stratil1,2,
  13. Stephan Voss1,2,
  14. Eva Rehfuess1,2
  1. 1Institute for Medical Information Processing, Biometry and Epidemiology, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munich, Germany
  2. 2Pettenkofer School of Public Health, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munich, Germany
  3. 3Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  4. 4Department for Evidence-based Medicine and Evaluation, Danube University Krems, Krems, Austria
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ani Movsisyan; ani.movsisyan{at}


Objectives To comprehensively map the existing evidence assessing the impact of travel-related control measures for containment of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic.

Design Rapid evidence map.

Data sources MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science, and COVID-19 specific databases offered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO.

Eligibility criteria We included studies in human populations susceptible to SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, SARS-CoV-1/severe acute respiratory syndrome, Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus/Middle East respiratory syndrome or influenza. Interventions of interest were travel-related control measures affecting travel across national or subnational borders. Outcomes of interest included infectious disease, screening, other health, economic and social outcomes. We considered all empirical studies that quantitatively evaluate impact available in Armenian, English, French, German, Italian and Russian based on the team’s language capacities.

Data extraction and synthesis We extracted data from included studies in a standardised manner and mapped them to a priori and (one) post hoc defined categories.

Results We included 122 studies assessing travel-related control measures. These studies were undertaken across the globe, most in the Western Pacific region (n=71). A large proportion of studies focused on COVID-19 (n=59), but a number of studies also examined SARS, MERS and influenza. We identified studies on border closures (n=3), entry/exit screening (n=31), travel-related quarantine (n=6), travel bans (n=8) and travel restrictions (n=25). Many addressed a bundle of travel-related control measures (n=49). Most studies assessed infectious disease (n=98) and/or screening-related (n=25) outcomes; we found only limited evidence on economic and social outcomes. Studies applied numerous methods, both inferential and descriptive in nature, ranging from simple observational methods to complex modelling techniques.

Conclusions We identified a heterogeneous and complex evidence base on travel-related control measures. While this map is not sufficient to assess the effectiveness of different measures, it outlines aspects regarding interventions and outcomes, as well as study methodology and reporting that could inform future research and evidence synthesis.

  • public health
  • infectious diseases
  • diabetic foot

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. No original data were generated for this study. All studies included in the evidence map are presented in the supplementary file.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. No original data were generated for this study. All studies included in the evidence map are presented in the supplementary file.

View Full Text

Supplementary materials

  • Supplementary Data

    This web only file has been produced by the BMJ Publishing Group from an electronic file supplied by the author(s) and has not been edited for content.


  • AM and JB are joint first authors.

  • Twitter @strahwald

  • Contributors JB, AM, ER and OH defined the study scope and developed the study protocol with significant intellectual input from all review authors. JB and AM coordinated the entire study process. IK designed the search strategy and conducted all the searches. JB, AM, RB, MC, KG, LMP, PvP, KS, BS, JMS, SV and ER conducted data screening and extraction. JB, AM, JMS, LMP and PvP did data mapping. JB, AM and ER prepared the first draft of the manuscript, which was further critically examined by all the authors and revised based on their feedback. All review authors reviewed and approved the final draft.

  • Funding The conduct of this evidence map was funded by the World Health Organization (WHO; grand/award number: N/A).

  • Disclaimer This study was commissioned and paid for by the World Health Organization (WHO). Copyright of the original work, a report submitted to WHO, belongs to WHO. This article was developed based on the WHO report and the authors have been given permission to publish. The authors alone are responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the views, decisions or policies of WHO.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.