Does the COVID-19 journey ban work? Here is what occurred when america restricted journey from China and Italy

(The dialog is an impartial and non-profit supply of reports, evaluation and feedback from tutorial specialists.)

(CONVERSATION) Coronavirus was nonetheless a distant downside in Wuhan when US President Donald Trump introduced a ban on journey from China in late January 2020. Six weeks later, when the coronavirus ravaged Italy, Trump closed journey from Europe.

These journey bans had been very controversial. Some folks claimed that they had been pointless restrictions on journey. Others stated they had been late. When New York’s speech on COVID-19 shot up, the federal government of Andrew Cuomo stated america had “closed the entrance door with the China ban … however we left the again door huge open” as a result of the virus had already unfold to different international locations.

One massive query stays: When the virus was in america, how a lot affect did worldwide journey even have on COVID-19 instances and deaths?


As researchers with expertise of finding out airways, we compiled information to start answering that query. We in contrast COVID-19 instances and deaths in virtually 1,000 US counties in opposition to the variety of passengers arriving in every of two international locations focused by the bans – China and Italy.

Our outcomes, which had been launched as a preprint examine, recommend two vital conclusions.

Firstly, if a authorities goes to impose a journey ban, it ought to act shortly. The virus spreads quickly.

Secondly, don’t introduce slender journey bans which might be solely aimed toward particular person international locations. As a result of the virus spreads so quick, you will need to assume that the virus has already unfold to different international locations.

We focus on our outcomes earlier than the journal has undergone peer evaluate as a result of the outcomes are vital for selections which might be made now. On January 25, 2021, virtually a yr after Trump’s ban on journey from China, the Biden administration issued new journey bans on international locations which have rising numbers of latest quickly spreading variants of SARS-CoV-2.

Italy vs. China

In our examine, we used information on worldwide air journey and US county-level statistics on COVID-19 instances and deaths. We wished to seek out out: Did US counties expertise extra arrivals from two preliminary COVID-19 hotspots – Italy and China – extra COVID-19 instances or deaths throughout the first US wave of the pandemic?

There are a number of challenges in attempting to evaluate the hyperlink between worldwide journey and COVID-19 outbreaks. Fewer folks might journey to cities which might be in the course of a pandemic outbreak. The areas that appeal to many international vacationers can also have extra critical COVID-19 outbreaks for different causes. For instance, locations that appeal to many international vacationers might have extra main occasions resembling conferences and sporting occasions.

We used information on passengers arriving from non-COVID-19 sizzling spots to assist management these components. We additionally took under consideration different components which will have an effect on the unfold and affect of the virus, resembling inhabitants measurement and density, use of public transport, demographics, politics and financial exercise.

We obtained two vital outcomes:

US counties that obtained extra passengers from China at first of the pandemic didn’t expertise larger COVID-19 infections and deaths than in different counties on common till Might 2020; in reality, each outcomes had been decrease.

Counties that obtained extra passengers from Italy at first of the pandemic skilled larger COVID-19 an infection and deaths. Particularly, one other 100 passengers from Italy arrived in a sure county throughout the fourth quarter of 2019 with a rise in each instances and deaths of about 5%.

Benefits of a broader ban

Our preliminary outcomes point out that vacationers coming from Italy drove the primary wave in america greater than these from China. Different researchers have linked the dominant virus pressure in New York Metropolis early within the pandemic to Europe.

Based mostly on our proof, the comparatively early ban on journey from China appears to have been efficient in decreasing falls and deaths.

By the tip of January 2020, when Trump shut down flights from China, the virus might not but have unfold sufficient amongst vacationers from China to contribute considerably to the early wave of pandemics in america. Ready till mid-March to impose a journey ban on Europe, nevertheless, may have had deadly penalties.

Lesson: If a journey ban is justified, time is essential.

Does this imply that future bans will work?

Though our outcomes present sturdy proof that worldwide journey from Italy elevated the unfold of COVID-19 in america throughout the first wave of the pandemic, this occurred at a time when people had been largely unaware of the virus and the menace it posed.

At the moment, with each vacationers and determination makers conscious of the menace, it’s unsure what impact worldwide journey would have on the unfold of COVID-19 in america. On the identical time, new, extra transmissible virus strains are rising the menace from worldwide journey. If the proof justifies additional restrictions, our analysis says to behave shortly and assume broadly.

This text is republished from The Dialog underneath a Artistic Commons license. Learn the unique article right here: https://theconversation.com/do-covid-19-travel-bans-work-heres-what-happened-when-us-restricted-travel-from-china-and-italy-153843.

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