Coronavirus outbreak: As per the number of air travelers that are expected to arrive in the countries from China’s cities worst-affected by the coronavirus, India features among the top 30 nations that are at a "high risk" for the spread of the virus, a study said. Among the countries that are at a high from the coronavirus, Thailand is ranked as the country with the highest risk of a virus outbreak, followed by Japan and Hong Kong. On the list compiled by researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK, the United States of America features in the sixth position, Australia is on the10th spot, the UK on 17th and India is placed on the 23rd position.
Thailand’s capital Bangkok is the city at most risk from the coronavirus, followed by Hong Kong and Taipei in Taiwan, as per the research. London, New York and Sydney are among the other 20 major international cities that made the list. Cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing have been identified by the researchers as cities within mainland China that are at high risk from the virus. Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Sichuan, Henan, and Zhejiang, too have been identified as high-risk areas from coronavirus.
To assess how the virus might spread in China and abroad, it was important to understand the trends of population movement, Andrew Tatem, a professor at the University of Southampton was quoted by the PTI as saying. Such mapping and identification of high-risk areas can aid screening and healthcare preparations, he added.
For the research, the team used anonymised IP address and mobile phone data, along with international air travel data to identify devices and track patterns of movement of people during the annual 40-day Lunar New Year celebrations. Using this data, the researchers identified 18 Chinese cities such as Wuhan that were at a high risk of coronavirus outbreak, keeping in mind the volume of travelers that were likely to travel to and from the cities to international destinations during a three-month window.
The team, that included researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada and the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledge that their findings were based on ‘non-outbreak’ travel patterns. They, however, highlight that a large number of people would’ve traveled during the early stages of the virus outbreak before travel restrictions had been put in place after a full-fledged emergency had been declared. More than five million people left the city before a travel ban was placed, Wuhan authorities said.
University of Southampton’s researcher Shengjie Lai said that the fast-moving situation was being closely monitored by the researchers to further analyse the spread of the virus.