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Closed environments facilitate secondary transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

By Hiroshi Nishiura, Hitoshi Oshitani, Tetsuro Kobayashi, Tomoya Saito, Tomimasa Sunagawa, Tamano Matsui, Takaji Wakita, MHLW COVID-19 Response Team, Motoi Suzuki

Posted 03 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.28.20029272

ObjectiveTo identify common features of cases with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) so as to better understand what factors promote secondary transmission including superspreading events. MethodsA total of 110 cases were examined among eleven clusters and sporadic cases, and investigated who acquired infection from whom. The clusters included four in Tokyo and one each in Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Ishikawa, Kanagawa and Wakayama prefectures. The number of secondary cases generated by each primary case was calculated using contact tracing data. ResultsOf the 110 cases examined, 27 (24.6%) were primary cases who generated secondary cases. The odds that a primary case transmitted COVID-19 in a closed environment was 18.7 times greater compared to an open-air environment (95% confidence interval [CI]: 6.0, 57.9). ConclusionsIt is plausible that closed environments contribute to secondary transmission of COVID-19 and promote superspreading events. Our findings are also consistent with the declining incidence of COVID-19 cases in China, as gathering in closed environments was prohibited in the wake of the rapid spread of the disease.

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