The positive impact of lockdown in Wuhan on containing the COVID-19 outbreak in China
Lau H et al. Department of Surgery, University of California
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BACKGROUND: With its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO). Consequently, many countries have implemented flight restrictions to China. China itself has imposed a lockdown of the population of Wuhan as well as the entire Hubei province. However, whether these two enormous measures have led to significant changes in the spread of COVID-19 cases remains unclear. METHODS: We analyzed available data on the development of confirmed domestic and international COVID-19 cases before and after lockdown measures. We evaluated the correlation of domestic air traffic to the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and determined the growth curves of COVID-19 cases within China before and after lockdown as well as after changes in COVID-19 diagnostic criteria. RESULTS: Our findings indicate a significant increase in doubling time from 2 days (95% Confidence Interval, CI): 1.9-2.6), to 4 days (95% CI: 3.5-4.3), after imposing lockdown. A further increase is detected after changing diagnostic and testing methodology to 19.3 (95% CI: 15.1-26.3), respectively. Moreover, the correlation between domestic air traffic and COVID-19 spread became weaker following lockdown (before lockdown: r = 0.98, p < 0.05 vs. after lockdown: r = 0.91, p = NS). CONCLUSIONS: A significantly decreased growth rate and increased doubling time of cases was observed, which is most likely due to Chinese lockdown measures. A more stringent confinement of people in high risk areas seem to have a potential to slow down the spread of COVID-19.