A new model shows that restrictions on flights to and from China will not stop the spread of the new coronavirus worldwide,media Outlet The Verge reported. Even if international flights to and from China are reduced by 90 per cent after February 1, the trajectory of the epidemic will not change significantly. The model was constructed using transport data and dynamic information about COVID-19, a disease caused by a new coronavirus, and published in the journal Science. The author offers a series of possible solutions for the spread of the disease in China and around the world.
At the end of January, Wuhan “sealed the city”. The model found that closing Wuhan airport would delay the spread of the epidemic in mainland China by less than a week. By 23 January, it was indicated that the virus had been brought across the country. This forecast matches World Health Organization (WHO) data on COVID-19 cases in China. The model shows that travel restrictions in and out of Wuhan have delayed the export of cases from China to other countries by two to three weeks. By then, however, there were enough cases outside Wuhan to prevent international transmission – the virus could spread from Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and other cities.
The model’s conclusions were endorsed by EXPERTs from the World Health Organization. “Measures with limited mobility have delayed the spread of the outbreak in China for two to three days and beyond china for several weeks,” Sylvie Briand, WHO’s director of infectious disease hazard management, said in a press release. “
WHO initially said countries should not restrict travel to new viruses, and experts questioned the measures to seal the city. However, while such actions have not prevented the epidemic from occurring in other regions, this delay has earned other countries some time to prepare. Now that the virus is present around the world, additional or persistent travel restrictions may have limited effects on the epidemic, the researchers wrote. They concluded that policies to reduce the spread of disease within the community, such as early detection and isolation, would be the best way to combat the outbreak.