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  • HKU-led study accurately tracks COVID-19 spread with big data

    HKU-led study accurately tracks COVID-19 spread with big data

    An international research team led by HKU developed a new method to accurately track the spread of COVID-19 using population flow data, and establishing a new risk assessment model to identify high-risk locales of COVID-19 at an early stage, which serves as a valuable toolkit to public health experts and policy makers in implementing infectious disease control during new outbreaks. Dr Jayson Jia, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Faculty of Business and Economics of HKU and lead author of the study, and his team used nation-wide data provided by a major national carrier in China to track population movement out of Wuhan between January 1 and 24, 2020, a period covering the annual Chunyun mass migration before the Chinese Lunar New Year to a lockdown of the city to contain the virus. The movement of over 11 million people travelling through Wuhan to 296 prefectures in 31 provinces and regions in China were tracked. Combining the population flow data with the number and location of COVID-19 confirmed cases up to February 19, 2020 in China, Dr Jia’s team showed that the relative quantity of human movement from the disease epicentre, in this case, Wuhan, directly predicted the relative frequency and geographic distribution of the number of COVID-19 cases across China. The researchers found that their model can explain 96% of the distribution and intensity of the spread of COVID-19 across China statistically which helps to identify high risk area.

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