The effect of human mobility and control measures on the COVID-19 epidemic in China


The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak expanded rapidly throughout China. Major behavioral, clinical, and state interventions were undertaken to mitigate the epidemic and prevent the persistence of the virus in human populations in China and worldwide. It remains unclear how these unprecedented interventions, including travel restrictions, affected COVID-19 spread in China. We used real-time mobility data from Wuhan and detailed case data including travel history to elucidate the role of case importation in transmission in cities across China and to ascertain the impact of control measures. Early on, the spatial distribution of COVID-19 cases in China was explained well by human mobility data. After the implementation of control measures, this correlation dropped and growth rates became negative in most locations, although shifts in the demographics of reported cases were still indicative of local chains of transmission outside of Wuhan. This study shows that the drastic control measures implemented in China substantially mitigated the spread of COVID-19.


Moritz U. G. Kraemer

Chia-Hung Yang

Bernardo Gutierrez

Chieh-Hsi Wu

Brennan Klein

David M. Pigott

Open COVID-19 Data Working Group

Louis du Plessis

Nuno R. Faria

Ruoran Li

William P. Hanage

John S. Brownstein

Maylis Layan

Alessandro Vespignani

Huaiyu Tian

Christopher Dye

Oliver G. Pybus

Samuel V. Scarpino

In Development

Currently in development, launching early 2021.