Skip to content
COVID19, Medical Health Aged Care

Restricting movement the best way to stop fast spread of infectious diseases, study finds

La Trobe University 3 mins read

Restricting movement between cities is the most effective way to slow the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, a new study by epidemiology experts from Australia and New Zealand has found.

 

Researchers from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University and Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland in New Zealand, studied the dynamics of infectious disease transmission in an interconnected world for their paper, High connectivity and human movement limits the impact of travel time on infectious disease transmission.

 

The study, published in The Journal of the Royal Society Interface, underscores the difficulty of controlling an emerging infection in highly connected communities.

 

The researchers used real-world data focused on the spread of SARS-COV-2 during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of better understanding how such a disease spreads from person to person in a highly connected global environment. Before vaccination, interventions would often rely on changes in human mobility to curb or eliminate the viral spread of disease.

 

The research team used a population model based on human movement data from 340 cities in China. This model effectively replicates the early trajectory of COVID-19 cases, providing valuable insights into the spread of the virus.

 

Algorithms were used to identify properties influencing the spread between cities. The findings showed that travel time between cities, calculated using the maximum allowed speed for a particular road and distances between through road networks, was the most crucial factor, followed closely by the numbers of people moving between cities.

 

The findings revealed that minor restrictions in movement aren’t enough to significantly impact spread between cities, and only substantial reductions in human movement between cities can significantly slow infection spread times.

 

The authors found these insights offer a nuanced understanding of how infectious diseases spread in a globally connected world and can help to guide future public health interventions and policy decisions.

 

Lead Investigator Dr Reju John from Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, says the research provides a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between human movement, connectivity and travel time in the context of infectious disease transmission.

 

“These insights are vital for developing effective strategies to manage and mitigate the impact of pandemics on a global scale,” he adds.

 

Massey’s Percival Carmine Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health, Professor David Hayman, says the research contributes to the ongoing discourse surrounding infectious diseases.

 

“It also lays the groundwork for more effective and targeted interventions, emphasising the need for nuanced epidemiological models that incorporate mobility dynamics,” Professor Hayman said.

 

Senior Investigator from La Trobe University, Associate Professor Joel Miller, says the collaborative effort marks a significant advancement in our collective understanding of infectious disease transmission in our interconnected world.

 

“This work underscores the difficulty of controlling an emerging infection in highly connected communities,” Associate professor Miller said.  

 

“Unfortunately, minor reductions in travel are not effective: a pathogen will quickly find alternative routes between communities.”

 

The research was funded by Massey alumni Bryce and Anne Carmine, including through their support of Professor Hayman as the Percival Carmine Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health. Another piece of research resulting from this funding looked at the transmission of SARS-like coronaviruses from wildlife to humans.

 

Read the full research article, High connectivity and human movement limits the impact of travel time on infectious disease transmission, here.

 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2023.0425

 

For interviews, contact:

 

La Trobe University

Associate Professor Joel Miller

Joel.Miller@latrobe.edu.au, M: 0433 924 936

 

Massey University

Holly Taylor

Communications Coordinator

E: h.a.taylor@massey.ac.nz, T: +64 021 867 920

 

More from this category

  • Indigenous, Medical Health Aged Care
  • 27/02/2024
  • 14:26
Institute for Urban Indigenous Health

Reduction in Indigenous newborn removals by child protection services

Australian research published this month shows women who received care through an innovative Indigenous-led model of maternity care were three times less likely to have their Indigenous newborn removed by child protection services than women who received standard maternity care. The research lands at the same time as the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap 2023 Annual Report which shows the rate of over-representation of Indigenous children in out-of-home care in Australia continues to increase. Kristie Watego, Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) Service Development Manager, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), said the results show it is possible to significantly reduce…

  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 27/02/2024
  • 09:31
Dementia Australia

Come walk or jog with us in Perth. We are in this together!

The 2024 Perth Memory Walk & Jog is nearly here with the event taking place on Sunday 17 March at Burswood Park, Burswood. Dementia Australia’s largest fundraising event hopes to attract thousands of people across Australia to help raise more than $2 million in support of people living with dementia. Funds raised at our upcoming event in Perth will help advance the work of Dementia Australia which delivers invaluable support, education and resources for people living with dementia, their families and carers. Memory Walk & Jog is about being part of the community and feeling supported. We are in this…

  • Contains:
  • Medical Health Aged Care
  • 27/02/2024
  • 06:05
Royal Australian College of GPs

Medicare doesn’t adequately support access to high-quality care for menopause and perimenopause

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) says current Medicare subsidies don’t adequately support people experiencing menopause and perimenopause. In a submission to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee Inquiry into the issues related to menopause and perimenopause, the RACGP said longer appointments are essential for high-quality care. RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said everyone experiencing menopause and perimenopause deserves access to high-quality care and support. “Menopause is a normal stage of life, but too many women are missing out on the care they need,” she said. “One of the barriers to quality menopause care is patients having enough time…

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.