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Early evaluation of the Wuhan City travel restrictions in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak

By Huaiyu Tian, Yonghong Liu, Yidan Li, Chieh-Hsi Wu, Bin Chen, Moritz UG Kraemer, Bingying Li, Jun Cai, Bo Xu, Qiqi Yang, Ben Wang, Peng Yang, Yujun Cui, Yimeng Song, Pai Zheng, Quanyi Wang, Ottar N. Bjornstad, Ruifu Yang, Bryan T Grenfell, Oliver G. Pybus, Christopher Dye

Posted 02 Feb 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.30.20019844

Respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) appeared in China during December 2019. Attempting to contain infection, China banned travel to and from Wuhan city on 23 January and implemented a national emergency response. Here we evaluate the spread and control of the epidemic based on a unique synthesis of data including case reports, human movement and public health interventions. The Wuhan shutdown slowed the dispersal of infection to other cities by an estimated 2.91 days (95%CI: 2.54-3.29), delaying epidemic growth elsewhere in China. Other cities that implemented control measures pre-emptively reported 33.3% (11.1-44.4%) fewer cases in the first week of their outbreaks (13.0; 7.1-18.8) compared with cities that started control later (20.6; 14.5-26.8). Among interventions investigated here, the most effective were suspending intra-city public transport, closing entertainment venues and banning public gatherings. The national emergency response delayed the growth and limited the size of the COVID-19 epidemic and, by 19 February (day 50), had averted hundreds of thousands of cases across China. One sentence summaryTravel restrictions and the national emergency response delayed the growth and limited the size of the COVID-19 epidemic in China.

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