With the deaths due to coronavirus racking up, scientists are now studying the pattern of its spread. As of 25th January, 42 deaths, 1409 confirmed cases, and 2032 suspected cases have been reported from China. As expected, most cases are from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. However, the virus has quickly spread to other regions and is now appearing in distant parts of the world.
To understand the possible scale of the epidemic, experts in population mapping from the UK and Canada have identified regions within China and worldwide which can be deemed high-risk. They studied domestic travel from 2013 to 2015 and international travel from 2018. The aim of the study, published in World Pop, was to understand the pattern of movement of people from Wuhan to other regions of the world.
The data revealed that there was likely heavy traffic from Wuhan at this time due to the Chinese Lunar New Year. Although travel restrictions were placed around Wuhan, it is likely that many people in the highly contagious initial stages of the infection had already left the city and carried the virus.
As per their predictions, cities in mainland China that are most vulnerable are Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Chongqing. Countries that are most at risk are (chronologically) Thailand, Japan, and Hong Kong. The USA was placed 6th on the list, while Australia and the UK come in at 10th and 17th respectively. In cities, Bangkok was most at risk, followed by Hong Kong and Taipei. Among more distant cities placed in the top 30, Sydney was placed at 12, New York at 16 and London at 19.