The debate is still on whether China took timely steps to report and contain the Corona disease after it hit Wuhan. Many still believe, China was late to impose lock-down.
But a study has found that China could prevent more than 700,000 infections across the country through its control measures in the first 50 days of the epidemic and delaying the spread to other cities.
“The number of confirmed cases in China by day 50 (February 19) of the epidemic, was around 30,000,” said Christopher Dye, visiting professor of zoology and visiting fellow at the Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford. “Our analysis suggests that without the Wuhan travel ban and the national emergency response there would have been more than 700,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of Wuhan by that date. China’s control measures appear to have worked by successfully breaking the chain of transmission—preventing contact between infectious and susceptible people.”
The researchers examined the movements of 4.3 million people out of Wuhan before the travel ban, the types and timing of control measures implemented across the cities of China and the numbers of COVID-19 cases reported each day in every city as part of this study.
“Since the time period we studied included the Spring Festival holiday and Chinese Lunar New Year, we were able to compare patterns of travel into and out of Wuhan during the outbreak with cell phone data from two previous spring festivals. The analysis revealed an extraordinary reduction in movement following the travel ban of January 23, 2020. Based on this data, we could also calculate the likely reduction in Wuhan-associated cases in other cities across China,” said Ottar Bjornstad, distinguished professor of entomology and biology, Penn State.
The researchers found that the delay gave enough window period for other cities like Beijing to be prepared. Thus more than 130 cities were able to put up measures to arrest the spread of the virus. As a result, they reported 33% fewer confirmed cases during the first week of their outbreaks than cities that did not implement a Level 1 Response.