Published time: 27 March 2020
Authors: Stefan Olsson, Jing Zhang
Keywords: epidemiology, COVID-19
During an epidemic outbreak it is useful for planners and responsible authorities to be able to plan ahead to estimate when an outbreak of an epidemic is likely to ease and when the last case can be predicted in their area of responsibility. Theoretically this could be done for a point source epidemic using epidemic curve forecasting. The extensive data now coming out of China makes it possible to test if this can be done using MS Excel a standard spreadsheet program available to most offices. The available data is divided up for the whole China and the different provinces. This and the high number of cases makes the analysis possible. Data for new confirmed infections for Hubei, Hubei outside Wuhan, China excluding Hubei as well as Zhejiang and Fujian provinces all follow a log-normal distribution that can be used to make a rough estimate for the date of the last new confirmed cases in respective areas. In the version 2 continuation work, 9 additional days were added for the Chinese data to evaluate the previous predictions. The extra data then available from China follows the previous predicted trend supporting the usefulness of this simple technique. In the version 2 we also tested the feasibility for a non-specialist to make similar predictions using additional data from S Korea now available. In this third continuation the predictions for Version 2 are evaluated for S Korea and fits well the beginning of the decline but it seems to be difficult to bring down numbers of cases per day under about 100 new cases per day, potential reasons for this is discussed. To further evaluate when in a prediction becomes reliable the Chinese data was used to evaluate to make predictions for each day around the peak in number of cases and after2-3 consecutive days of decreasing new cases per day the prediction becomes reliable. In version 3 data for Italy just reaching this point was used to make further predictions for that country. A second new analysis was also added to use the fitted equation to detect when the acceleration of new cases per day stopped increasing exponentially. In the Chinese case this measured point coincides with the date of the complete Hubei lockdown and in the new Italian analysis it coincides with the mandatory Italian lockdown. Predicted dates for the end of the Italian outbreak is also added.
The Ongoing COVID-19 Epidemic Curves Indicate Initial Point Spread in China With Log-Normal Distribution