Estimating the reproductive number and the outbreak size of COVID-19 in Korea.Epidemiol Health. 2020; 42:e2020011.EH
Since the first novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patient in Korea was diagnosed on January 20, 2020, 30 patients were diagnosed until February 17, 2020. However, 5,298 additional patients were confirmed until March 4, 2020. Therefore, our objective was to estimate the reproduction number (R) and evaluate the effectiveness of preventive measures.
A COVID-19 transmission model (SEIHR) was established to suit the Korean outbreak. The number of daily confirmed cases in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province (NGP), the main area of outbreak, was used. The first patient' symptom onset date in the Daegu/NGP outbreak was assumed as January 22, 2020. The R according to the start date of the effect of preventive measures was estimated.
The estimated R in Hubei Province, China, was 4.0281, whereas the estimated initial R in Korea was 0.555, but later in Daegu/NGP, the value was between 3.472 and 3.543. When the transmission period decreases from 4-day to 2-day, the outbreak ends early, but the peak of the epidemic increases, and the total number of patients does not change greatly. It was found that, if transmission rate decreases, the outbreak ends early, and the size of the peak and the total number of patients also decreases.
To end the COVID-19 epidemic, efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, such as social distancing and wearing masks, are absolutely crucial with the participation of the public, along with the policy of reducing the transmission period by finding and isolating patients as quickly as possible through the efforts of the quarantine authorities.