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Impact of international travel dynamics on domestic spread of 2019-nCoV in India: origin-based risk assessment in importation of infected travelers
  • Sachin Gunthe,
  • Satya Patra
Sachin Gunthe
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Author Profile
Satya Patra
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Author Profile

Abstract

The recent pandemic caused by the 2019 outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has affected more than 1.3 million people resulting ~75000 deaths across 212 countries/territories as on 7th April 2020. The importation of the cases owing to enormous international travels from the affected countries is the foremost reason for local cycle of transmission. For a country like India, the second most populous country in the world with ~1.35 billion population, the management and control of 2019-nCoV domestic spread heavily relied on effective screening and strict quarantine of passengers arriving at various international airports in India from affected countries. Here, by extracting the data from FLIRT, an online airline database for more than 800 airlines, and scanning more than 180000 flights and 39.9 million corresponding passenger seats during 4th – 25th March, we show that India experienced the highest risk index of importing the passengers from middle eastern airports. Contrary to perception, travelers from China imposed lowest risk of importing the infected cases in India. This is clearly evident form the fact that while the number of infected cases were on the peak in China India was one of the least affected countries. The number of cases in India started exhibiting a sharp increase in the infected cases only after the European countries and USA recorded large number of infected cases. We further argue that while the number of cases in middle eastern countries may still be very low, the airports in middle eastern countries, particularly Dubai, being one of the largest transit hubs for international passengers, including arriving in India, might have posed a higher risk of getting infected with 2019-nCoV. We suggest that any future travel related disease infection screening at the airports should critically assess the passengers from major transit hubs in addition to affected country of origin.