The Positive Impact of Lockdown in Wuhan on Containing the COVID-19 Outbreak in China


With its epicenter in Wuhan, China, the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). Consequently, many countries have implemented flight restrictions to China. China itself has imposed a lockdown of the population of Wuhan as well as the entire Hubei province. However, whether these two enormous measures have led to significant changes in the spread of COVID-19 cases remains unclear.


We analyzed the available data on the development of confirmed domestic and international COVID-19 cases before and after lockdown measures. We evaluated the correlation of domestic air traffic to the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and determined the growth curves of COVID-19 cases within China before and after lockdown as well as after changes in COVID-19 diagnostic criteria.


Our findings indicate a significant increase in doubling time from 2 days (95% CI: 1.9–2.6) to 4 days (95% CI: 3.5–4.3), after imposing lockdown. A further increase is detected after changing diagnostic and testing methodology to 19.3 (95% CI: 15.1–26.3), respectively. Moreover, the correlation between domestic air traffic and COVID-19 spread became weaker following lockdown (before lockdown: r = 0.98, P < 0.05 vs after lockdown: r = 0.91, P = NS).


A significantly decreased growth rate and increased doubling time of cases was observed, which is most likely due to Chinese lockdown measures. A more stringent confinement of people in high risk areas seems to have a potential to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

Licence Information:

© International Society of Travel Medicine 2020. All rights reserved.

Lau, H. et al. (2020) 'The Positive Impact of Lockdown in Wuhan on Containing the COVID-19 Outbreak in China', Journal of Travel Medicine 27.3: taaa037, DOI: 10.1093/jtm/taaa037

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