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Infectious Diseases

China: How Effective Were the Containment Measures?

Posted on 26 March 2020

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While social distancing measures are being put in place throughout the world, few compare in their strictness to those initially imposed in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to a recent report by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team, the social distancing in Wuhan and throughout China seems to have been effective. The reduction of within-city movement in the five most affected areas correlated strongly with a reduction in daily cases. However, when movement began to increase as measures were relaxed, the correlation between movement and new cases ended.

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These data suggest that not only were initial measures successful, but that China has also succeeded in partially lifting those measures and restarting its economy without rekindling the outbreak, though such an occurrence remains possible.

The report suggests other countries could learn from the way China has handled this outbreak:

Policies implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in China and the exiting strategies that followed can inform decision making processes for countries once containment is achieved.

(2020). Retrieved 26 March 2020, from

However, it is difficult to see many countries going as far as the Chinese response. After the 1st of February, Hubei province permitted only one person from each household is to go outside every other day. The country’s dystopian social credit system has also been used to enforce lockdown throughout China.

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    Report 11: Evidence of initial success of China exiting COVID-19 social distancing policy after achieving containment:

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