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A framework for identifying regional outbreak and spread of COVID-19 from one-minute population-wide surveys

By Hagai Rossman, Ayya Keshet, Smadar Shilo, Amir Gavrieli, Tal Bauman, Ori Cohen, Ran D. Balicer, Benjamin Geiger, Yuval Dor, Eran Segal

Posted 20 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.19.20038844

Coronavirus infection spreads in clusters and therefore early identification of these clusters is critical for slowing down the spread of the virus. Here, we propose that daily population-wide surveys that assess the development of symptoms caused by the virus could serve as a strategic and valuable tool for identifying such clusters to inform epidemiologists, public health officials, and policy makers. We show preliminary results from a survey of over 58,000 Israelis and call for an international consortium to extend this concept in order to develop predictive models. We expect such data to allow: Faster detection of spreading zones and patients; Obtaining a current snapshot of the number of people in each area who have developed symptoms; Predicting future spreading zones several days before an outbreak occurs; Evaluating the effectiveness of the various social distancing measures taken, and their contribution to reduce the number of symptomatic people. Such information can provide a valuable tool for decision makers to decide which areas need strengthening of social distancing measures and which areas can be relieved. Preliminary analysis shows that in neighborhoods with confirmed COVID-19 patient history, more responders report on COVID-19 associated symptoms, demonstrating the potential utility of our approach for detection of outbreaks. Researchers from other countries including the U.S, India, Italy, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Finland, Sweden, Norway and several others have adopted our approach and we are collaborating to further improve it. We call with urgency for other countries to join this international consortium, and to share methods and data collected from these daily, simple, one-minute surveys.

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