Movement of people from cities to the countryside REDUCED Covid cases

Movement of people from cities to the countryside REDUCED Covid cases

11/17/2020

Mass exodus of people from cities to the countryside during a pandemic may REDUCE the spread of the disease – but could trigger surges in localised cases

  • Study found people leaving densely-populated cities for the countryside leads to a reduction in new cases 
  • There is an overall drop in the amount of transmission but a localised increase in rural areas 
  • Hypothetical study used computer models to depict how a hypothetical population of people spread disease
  • A total of 10,000 iterations were done on a one-way model going from high density to low density 

The coronavirus lockdown saw many city dwellers flee their concrete metropolises for the countryside, whether to go and stay in holiday homes, visit family, or for ‘staycations’ in smaller towns and villages. 

This mass exodus left major cities like London and New York eerily deserted, while simultaneously infuriating the locals in more rural parts of the country, who felt like they were being invaded. 

Inevitably, the movement of people from towns and cities to the countryside can lead to localised surges in infection rates in these areas.

However, a new mathematical study shows this type of migration may actually help to limit the overall spread of the disease during a pandemic.  

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The coronavirus lockdown saw many city dwellers flee their concrete metropolises for the countryside, staying with family or friends in smaller towns and villages, much to the chagrin of locals 

This mass urbanite exodus left major cities like London and New York eerily empty, while simultaneously infuriating the native country folk who were being invaded by yuppies and the rich and wealthy escaping to their second home

Natives of the countryside made a stern point to city folk looking to invade during the peak of the coronavirus lockdown, worried about people spreading Covid-19

Researchers used computer models to predict movement patterns of a hypothetical group of people. 

Their simple model focused on population density as the primary factor influencing the spread of disease. 

In reality, the picture is far more nuanced, but population density does play a significant role, with many cities experiencing worse per capita infection rates than rural areas. 

The researchers, Dr Massimiliano Zanin and Dr David Papo, looked at how population density and infection rates were impacted by the implementation of travel restrictions. 

International travel was rapidly shut down following the emergence of Covid-19 to reduce the global spread of the contagion, and many nations later introduced regional restrictions. 

For example, under England’s Spring lockdown, people were advised not to travel long distances except when absolutely essential. 

Shutting schools at the start of the coronavirus pandemic shortened the average child’s lifespan by almost three months, a study claims. 

Academics at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute reviewed data from various studies and databases and found 24.2 million children aged 5 to 11 years attended public schools in the US that were closed during the pandemic.

On average each pupil lost 54 days of instruction – the equivalent of almost 11 weeks of schooling.   

As a result, the researchers say a total of 5.53 million years of life have been lost among primary school age children. 

For the 24 million affected children, this equates to 23 per cent of a year, or 84 days, just less than three months. 

Researchers say ‘restoring access to in-person primary school education should be an immediate priority’ for politicians. 

Domestic travel was also discouraged, both during the Spring lockdown and again in the Autumn, when Briton’s were told not to visit the worst-afflicted areas that had been placed under ‘Tier 3’ restrictions.

The study, published today in the journal Chaos, found that a place with a high population density getting diluted via a mass exit actually leads to a slowdown in disease spread.   

Allowing people to leave the infection-prone cities results in an overall lower number of infections, the researchers write. 

‘This comes at the cost of a higher number of infections in the low-density region, which is effectively importing cases,’ they add. 

The academics ran 10,000 iterations of the simulation to determine the resulting disease spread among people in two locations when migration is one way: from dense cities to less dense towns. 

‘We decided to explore how an altered mobility would affect the spreading,’ said Dr Zanin. 

‘The real answer lies in the sign of the result. People always assume that closing borders is good. We found that it is almost always bad.’ 

The study found that, on the macro-scale, the people fleeing cities help bring down the total number of cases. But, it comes at the cost of a slight localised rise in the countryside.   

‘A sensible policy would be to allow people living in dense cities to move to a second house in the country-side, provided they agree to minimise social contacts there,’ the researchers say. 

‘An even more drastic solution could be designed, involving the forced relocation of healthy people at the beginning of the spreading process. 

‘While this allows for a drastic reduction in the number of infections, its real-world applicability is questionable at best.’    

The academics ran 10,000 iterations of the simulation to determine the resulting disease spread among people in two locations when migration is one way: from dense cities to less dense towns

Approximately 330,000 people pass through Times Square daily, many of them tourists. Pictured is the square durin lockdown with far fewer visitors

The city that never sleeps has been forced to shut down its bars, restaurants, movie theatres and gyms, including those in New York City’s iconic Times Square, in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus 

Pictured, an empty Carnaby Street in Soho, London, at the start of Lockdown 2.0 in England to combat Covid

A quiet Trafalgar Square in London recently, on the third day of a four-week national lockdown for England to combat the spread of coronavirus as restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops are closed

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