The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China

Science. 2020 May 1;368(6490):493-497. doi: 10.1126/science.abb4218. Epub 2020 Mar 25.

Abstract

The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak expanded rapidly throughout China. Major behavioral, clinical, and state interventions were undertaken to mitigate the epidemic and prevent the persistence of the virus in human populations in China and worldwide. It remains unclear how these unprecedented interventions, including travel restrictions, affected COVID-19 spread in China. We used real-time mobility data from Wuhan and detailed case data including travel history to elucidate the role of case importation in transmission in cities across China and to ascertain the impact of control measures. Early on, the spatial distribution of COVID-19 cases in China was explained well by human mobility data. After the implementation of control measures, this correlation dropped and growth rates became negative in most locations, although shifts in the demographics of reported cases were still indicative of local chains of transmission outside of Wuhan. This study shows that the drastic control measures implemented in China substantially mitigated the spread of COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Betacoronavirus
  • China
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Epidemiological Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Sex Distribution
  • Spatial Analysis
  • Travel / statistics & numerical data*

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2