The researchers “were able to compare patterns of travel into and out of Wuhan during the outbreak with cell phone data from two previous spring festivals,” Bjornstad said.
“The analysis revealed an extraordinary reduction in movement following the travel ban of January 23, 2020. Based on this data, we could also calculate the likely reduction in Wuhan-associated cases in other cities across China.”
The Wuhan shutdown delayed the arrival of the virus in other cities, their model showed, giving them time to prepare by banning public gatherings and closing entertainment venues, among other measures.
Nearly half of humanity has now been told to stay home to curb the spread of the virus, and lockdowns are rapidly becoming normalized.
But when Beijing first shut down Wuhan more than two months ago, the decision was seen as a dramatic escalation in the fight against infection.
With the restrictions in the city slowly being lifted and life inching closer to normal, the question for China — and other countries around the globe — is what will happen once movement resumes.
“We are acutely aware that resident or imported infections could lead to a resurgence of transmission,” said another of the report’s authors, Huaiyu Tian, an associate professor of epidemiology at Beijing Normal University.