The COVID-19 outbreak in Sichuan, China: Epidemiology and impact of interventions

Quan-Hui Liu, Ana I. Bento, Kexin Yang, Hang Zhang, Xiaohan Yang, Stefano Merler, Alessandro Vespignani, Jiancheng Lv, Hongjie Yu, Wei Zhang, Tao Zhou, Marco Ajelli
PLOS Computational Biology
December 28, 2020


In January 2020, a COVID-19 outbreak was detected in Sichuan Province of China. Six weeks later, the outbreak was successfully contained. The aim of this work is to characterize the epidemiology of the Sichuan outbreak and estimate the impact of interventions in limiting SARS-CoV-2 transmission. We analyzed patient records for all laboratory-confirmed cases reported in the province for the period of January 21 to March 16, 2020. To estimate the basic and daily reproduction numbers, we used a Bayesian framework. In addition, we estimate the number of cases averted by the implemented control strategies. The outbreak resulted in 539 confirmed cases, lasted less than two months, and no further local transmission was detected after February 27. The median age of local cases was 8 years older than that of imported cases. We estimated R0 at 2.4 (95% CI: 1.6—3.7). The epidemic was self-sustained for about 3 weeks before going below the epidemic threshold 3 days after the declaration of a public health emergency by Sichuan authorities. Our findings indicate that, were the control measures be adopted four weeks later, the epidemic could have lasted 49 days longer (95% CI: 31—68 days), causing 9,216 more cases (95% CI: 1,317—25,545).

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