Inferring super-spreading from transmission clusters of COVID-19 in Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore

J Hosp Infect. 2020 Aug;105(4):682-685. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2020.05.027. Epub 2020 May 22.


Super-spreading events in an outbreak can change the nature of an epidemic. Therefore, it is useful for public health teams to determine whether an ongoing outbreak has any contribution from such events, which may be amenable to interventions. We estimated the basic reproductive number (R0) and the dispersion factor (k) from empirical data on clusters of epidemiologically linked coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. This allowed us to infer the presence or absence of super-spreading events during the early phase of these outbreaks. The relatively large values of k implied that large cluster sizes, compatible with super-spreading, were unlikely.

Keywords: COVID-19; Hong Kong; Japan; Singapore; Super-spreading; Transmission clusters.

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Singapore / epidemiology