Estimation of Local Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Cases in Wuhan, China from Off-Site Reported Cases and Population Flow Data from Different Sources

Zian Zhuang, Peihua Cao, Shi Zhao, Yijun Lou, Shu Yang, Weiming Wang, Lin Yang, Daihai He

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In December 2019, novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) hit Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and spread to the rest of China and overseas. The emergence of this virus coincided with the Spring Festival Travel Rush in China. It is possible to estimate the total number of COVID-19 cases in Wuhan, by 23 January 2020, given the cases reported in other cities/regions and population flow data between Wuhan and these cities/regions. We built a model to estimate the total number of COVID-19 cases in Wuhan by 23 January 2020, based on the number of cases detected outside Wuhan city in China, with the assumption that cases exported from Wuhan were less likely underreported in other cities/regions. We employed population flow data from different sources between Wuhan and other cities/regions by 23 January 2020. The number of total cases in Wuhan was determined by the maximum log likelihood estimation and Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) weight. We estimated 8 679 (95% CI: 7 701, 9 732) as total COVID-19 cases in Wuhan by 23 January 2020, based on combined source of data from Tencent and Baidu. Sources of population flow data impact the estimates of the total number of COVID-19 cases in Wuhan before city lockdown. We should make a comprehensive analysis based on different sources of data to overcome the bias from different sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number336
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalFrontiers in Physics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • COVID-19
  • mobility
  • outbreaks
  • pneumonia
  • transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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