Research article Special Issues

Analyzing the effects of public interventions on reducing public gatherings in China during the COVID-19 epidemic via mobile terminals positioning data

  • Received: 07 May 2020 Accepted: 09 July 2020 Published: 13 July 2020
  • At the beginning of 2020, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) became an outbreak in China. On January 23, China raised its national public health response to the highest level. As part of the emergency response, a series of public social distancing interventions were implemented to reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19. In this article, we explored the feasibility of using mobile terminal positioning data to study the impact of some nonpharmaceutical public health interventions implemented by China. First, this article introduced a hybrid method for measuring the number of people in public places based on anonymized mobile terminal positioning data. Additionally, the difference-in-difference (DID) model was used to estimate the effect of the interventions on reducing public gatherings in different provinces and during different stages. The data-driven experimental results showed that the interventions that China implemented reduced the number of people in public places by approximately 60% between January 24 and February 28. Among the 31 provinces in the Chinese mainland, some provinces, such as Tianjin and Chongqing, were more affected by the interventions, while other provinces, such as Gansu, were less affected. In terms of the stages, the phase with the greatest intervention effect was from February 3 to 14, during which the number of daily confirmed cases in China showed a turning point. In conclusion, the interventions significantly reduced public gatherings, and the effects of interventions varied with provinces and time.

    Citation: Lei Nie, Xin Guo, Chengqi Yi, Ruojia Wang. Analyzing the effects of public interventions on reducing public gatherings in China during the COVID-19 epidemic via mobile terminals positioning data[J]. Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, 2020, 17(5): 4875-4890. doi: 10.3934/mbe.2020265

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  • At the beginning of 2020, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) became an outbreak in China. On January 23, China raised its national public health response to the highest level. As part of the emergency response, a series of public social distancing interventions were implemented to reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19. In this article, we explored the feasibility of using mobile terminal positioning data to study the impact of some nonpharmaceutical public health interventions implemented by China. First, this article introduced a hybrid method for measuring the number of people in public places based on anonymized mobile terminal positioning data. Additionally, the difference-in-difference (DID) model was used to estimate the effect of the interventions on reducing public gatherings in different provinces and during different stages. The data-driven experimental results showed that the interventions that China implemented reduced the number of people in public places by approximately 60% between January 24 and February 28. Among the 31 provinces in the Chinese mainland, some provinces, such as Tianjin and Chongqing, were more affected by the interventions, while other provinces, such as Gansu, were less affected. In terms of the stages, the phase with the greatest intervention effect was from February 3 to 14, during which the number of daily confirmed cases in China showed a turning point. In conclusion, the interventions significantly reduced public gatherings, and the effects of interventions varied with provinces and time.


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