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      Applications of digital technology in COVID-19 pandemic planning and response

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      , BSc a , , Prof, DPhil c , d , , Prof, MD e , , MD a , b , f , *
      The Lancet. Digital Health
      The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.

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          Summary

          With high transmissibility and no effective vaccine or therapy, COVID-19 is now a global pandemic. Government-coordinated efforts across the globe have focused on containment and mitigation, with varying degrees of success. Countries that have maintained low COVID-19 per-capita mortality rates appear to share strategies that include early surveillance, testing, contact tracing, and strict quarantine. The scale of coordination and data management required for effective implementation of these strategies has—in most successful countries—relied on adopting digital technology and integrating it into policy and health care. This Viewpoint provides a framework for the application of digital technologies in pandemic management and response, highlighting ways in which successful countries have adopted these technologies for pandemic planning, surveillance, testing, contact tracing, quarantine, and health care.

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          A Novel Coronavirus from Patients with Pneumonia in China, 2019

          Summary In December 2019, a cluster of patients with pneumonia of unknown cause was linked to a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan, China. A previously unknown betacoronavirus was discovered through the use of unbiased sequencing in samples from patients with pneumonia. Human airway epithelial cells were used to isolate a novel coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, which formed a clade within the subgenus sarbecovirus, Orthocoronavirinae subfamily. Different from both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV, 2019-nCoV is the seventh member of the family of coronaviruses that infect humans. Enhanced surveillance and further investigation are ongoing. (Funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China and the National Major Project for Control and Prevention of Infectious Disease in China.)
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            Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modelling study

            Summary Background Since Dec 31, 2019, the Chinese city of Wuhan has reported an outbreak of atypical pneumonia caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Cases have been exported to other Chinese cities, as well as internationally, threatening to trigger a global outbreak. Here, we provide an estimate of the size of the epidemic in Wuhan on the basis of the number of cases exported from Wuhan to cities outside mainland China and forecast the extent of the domestic and global public health risks of epidemics, accounting for social and non-pharmaceutical prevention interventions. Methods We used data from Dec 31, 2019, to Jan 28, 2020, on the number of cases exported from Wuhan internationally (known days of symptom onset from Dec 25, 2019, to Jan 19, 2020) to infer the number of infections in Wuhan from Dec 1, 2019, to Jan 25, 2020. Cases exported domestically were then estimated. We forecasted the national and global spread of 2019-nCoV, accounting for the effect of the metropolitan-wide quarantine of Wuhan and surrounding cities, which began Jan 23–24, 2020. We used data on monthly flight bookings from the Official Aviation Guide and data on human mobility across more than 300 prefecture-level cities in mainland China from the Tencent database. Data on confirmed cases were obtained from the reports published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Serial interval estimates were based on previous studies of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). A susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered metapopulation model was used to simulate the epidemics across all major cities in China. The basic reproductive number was estimated using Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods and presented using the resulting posterior mean and 95% credibile interval (CrI). Findings In our baseline scenario, we estimated that the basic reproductive number for 2019-nCoV was 2·68 (95% CrI 2·47–2·86) and that 75 815 individuals (95% CrI 37 304–130 330) have been infected in Wuhan as of Jan 25, 2020. The epidemic doubling time was 6·4 days (95% CrI 5·8–7·1). We estimated that in the baseline scenario, Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen had imported 461 (95% CrI 227–805), 113 (57–193), 98 (49–168), 111 (56–191), and 80 (40–139) infections from Wuhan, respectively. If the transmissibility of 2019-nCoV were similar everywhere domestically and over time, we inferred that epidemics are already growing exponentially in multiple major cities of China with a lag time behind the Wuhan outbreak of about 1–2 weeks. Interpretation Given that 2019-nCoV is no longer contained within Wuhan, other major Chinese cities are probably sustaining localised outbreaks. Large cities overseas with close transport links to China could also become outbreak epicentres, unless substantial public health interventions at both the population and personal levels are implemented immediately. Independent self-sustaining outbreaks in major cities globally could become inevitable because of substantial exportation of presymptomatic cases and in the absence of large-scale public health interventions. Preparedness plans and mitigation interventions should be readied for quick deployment globally. Funding Health and Medical Research Fund (Hong Kong, China).
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              Quantifying SARS-CoV-2 transmission suggests epidemic control with digital contact tracing

              The newly emergent human virus SARS-CoV-2 is resulting in high fatality rates and incapacitated health systems. Preventing further transmission is a priority. We analyzed key parameters of epidemic spread to estimate the contribution of different transmission routes and determine requirements for case isolation and contact-tracing needed to stop the epidemic. We conclude that viral spread is too fast to be contained by manual contact tracing, but could be controlled if this process was faster, more efficient and happened at scale. A contact-tracing App which builds a memory of proximity contacts and immediately notifies contacts of positive cases can achieve epidemic control if used by enough people. By targeting recommendations to only those at risk, epidemics could be contained without need for mass quarantines (‘lock-downs’) that are harmful to society. We discuss the ethical requirements for an intervention of this kind.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Lancet Digit Health
                Lancet Digit Health
                The Lancet. Digital Health
                The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.
                2589-7500
                29 June 2020
                29 June 2020
                Affiliations
                [a ]Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
                [b ]Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
                [c ]Institute of Population Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
                [d ]Keele Cardiac Research Group, Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
                [e ]Scripps Research Translational Institute, La Jolla, CA, USA
                [f ]Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton, ON, Canada
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence to: Dr Harriette G C Van Spall, Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton, ON L8L 0A3, Canada harriette.vanspall@ 123456phri.ca
                Article
                S2589-7500(20)30142-4
                10.1016/S2589-7500(20)30142-4
                7324092
                32835201
                ef1f38a0-4a1f-4248-9b07-2eb780acca81
                © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

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