Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic waves in China

Research from Monash University on the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in China gives important clues into predicting the size and potential causes of second, and subsequent waves and also when restrictions can be lifted once infection rates start to decline.

The data reveals that the first 30 cases may mark a critical threshold for the transition from a slow to a fast-growing phase of the COVID-19 epidemic. Importantly, after a strict city-wide quarantine measure is applied, maintaining a high uptake of mask wearing and reduced social contacts are essential to enable the epidemic to follow a smooth decline to elimination. However, if mask usage is 50 per cent or less, there are likely to be more outbreaks.

The data is particularly relevant as Victoria faces a potential extension of Stage 4 restrictions if the current infection rate stays in the double and sometimes triple figures.

The reports have just been published in International Journal of Infectious Diseases, the Innovation and PLOS Medicine, led by Lei Zhang, who is an adjunct Associate Professor from Monash University’s Central Clinical School and a Professor from China-Australia Joint Research Center for Infectious Diseases in Xi’an Jiaotong University. These studies were a collaborative effort of the universities.

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