A study estimates the impact of travel restrictions and border control measures on the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). To contain the spread of COVID-19, China enacted lockdowns of Wuhan, the city where the outbreak originated, as well as other cities in Hubei province, in late January 2020. Other countries have instituted airport screening measures and restrictions on travel to and from China. Alison Galvani, Burton Singer, and colleagues estimated the effects of these and other prevention measures on global COVID-19 spread.
The authors estimated that in the absence of travel restrictions, 779 cases of COVID-19 would have been exported by February 15, 2020. The Chinese lockdowns reduced this number by more than 70% and reduced the estimated daily exportation rate by more than 80% during the first three and a half weeks of implementation. Nearly two-thirds of exported cases were estimated to be presymptomatic upon arrival at their destination, which limited the effectiveness of airport screening measures. Thus, the authors suggest, while travel restrictions and border controls likely delayed the spread of COVID-19, they are unlikely to contain the outbreak on their own. Additional containment measures, such as sufficiently rapid contact tracing within the epicenter of the outbreak and travelers’ self-reporting of virus exposure and self-isolation, could be important for limiting global disease spread, according to the authors.
Article #20-02616: “Impact of international travel and border control measures on the global spread of the novel 2019 Coronavirus outbreak,” by Chad R. Wells et al. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2002616117
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