Lockdowns and travel restrictions are the best methods to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, a new study from China suggests.
Researchers from the University of Oxford in the UK and Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, found that in Wuhan – the epicenter of the outbreak – travel restrictions were late.
Once the lock occurred, the number of cases outside of Wuhan-linked province dropped by 92 percent from 515 to 39.
But outside of Hubei Province, where Wuhan is located, those who limited travel and focused on case testing and tracking did best in outbreaks.
The team says this is especially important to the US because, while some states have implemented strict on-the-spot measures, others have not, even though there have been over 59,000 cases and more than 800 deaths.
Wuhan only imposed travel restrictions on January 31. Before that date, 515 of all cases reported outside of Hubei had a known travel history to Wuhan. Picture: an employee spraying disinfectant at Wuhan train station, March 24, left; and a member of staff disinfects an emergency room at the Huayuanshan facility of the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Wuhan, March 15
But after January 31, only 39 cases had a travel history to Wuhan and symptoms started before that date. Pictured: A CDC post reminds travelers to wash their hands at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, March 25
Wuhan was shut down on January 31, and no one was allowed to leave the city by plane or bus.
However, it was more than four weeks after the virus was first discovered, and it was too late because China went through the greatest human migration in history due to the Lunar New Year.
Other cities occurred much earlier and were able to control the spread much faster.
For the study, published in the journal Science, the team analyzed geolocation data from the Chinese technology company Baidu, In and the Open COVID-19 Data Working Group, funded by the Oxford Martin School.
The authors say that because the average incubation time is only five days, the benefits of travel restrictions were not recognized for at least a week after the closure.
Of all cases reported outside of Hubei, before January 31, 515, had a travel history to Wuhan and their symptoms started before closure.
But after January 31, only 39 cases had a travel history to Wuhan and symptoms started before that date.
The researchers say this demonstrates the effect of travel restrictions to reduce its spread to other Chinese provinces.
“Our findings demonstrate that early in the coronavirus outbreak, travel restrictions were effective in preventing the import of infections from a known source,” said Dr. Moritz Kraemer, a research fellow at the University of Oxford.
But once COVID-19 cases started to spread locally, the contribution from new imports was much smaller.
Researchers say this is an important lesson for the US as it becomes the epicenter that early travel restrictions prevent the spread of infections. Pictured: A sparse crowd heads to a check-in counter at the United terminal at Los Angeles International Airport on March 24
In the US, there are more than 59,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 800 deaths. Pictured: paramedics move patient to hospital during coronavirus outbreak in Manhattan, New York, March 25
“Here, a full package of measures, including local mobility restrictions, testing, tracking and isolation, must work together to reduce the epidemic. ‘
Dr. However, Kraemer warned that Chinese provinces and other countries that have imposed restrictions should “carefully” manage how they resume travel.
“The political will in many countries is lagging behind the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Samuel Scarpino of Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute (NetSI).
Travel and mobility restrictions are most useful from the start, when local transmission has not yet become a factor. After the transfer is established, physical distance and quarantine of sick persons will work, but it will take time. ‘