Covid-19 has spread across Northern Ireland by just seven asymptomatic people – QUB study
ONLY seven people are likely to have introduced Covid-19 to Northern Ireland – triggering a cascade of infections that has claimed nearly a quarter of a million cases and thousands of deaths.
A group of experts from Queen’s University Belfast, led by Dr Gabor Kiss of the School of Mathematics and Physics, used mathematical modeling to track the development of the coronavirus in the north.
Their work, using computer simulations and data from the Department of Health, is designed to help prepare for future variants and diseases.
Modeling estimates that seven people, who had been exposed to the disease but were not showing symptoms and were not yet contagious as of March 1 of last year, “imported the Covid-19 into Northern Ireland”.
It also suggests that it took an average of 9.6 days for an exposed person to develop symptoms and become infectious, and for a symptomatic patient to spread the disease for nine days.
They had been exposed to “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)”.
“The modeling suggests that the epidemic could have entered the country undetected because it took some time for people to become contagious and develop symptoms,” said Dr Kiss.
The team took a detailed look at the period of the first lockdown and found that the number of infectious individuals “declined rapidly” after the introduction of interventions limiting the spread of the disease, such as social distancing and wearing of. masks.
At the end of March, the study estimated that there were 327 infectious individuals but that this number had risen to 27 in three months.
But modeling suggests that the number of individuals exposed has shown a more prolonged decline, with an estimated 388 exposed in late March, dropping to 151 just over three months.
Dr Kiss said the research provides in-depth data on the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, which “will help develop strategies focused on public health, not only in Northern Ireland, but across the world” .
“It lays the groundwork for a decision support tool that could assess the state of an epidemic and help advise on optimal interventions in the early stages of any re-emergence of preventable high-consequence infectious diseases.” through vaccination. “
Their work is now focused on integrating other aspects of the epidemic into their models – including the “geographic disease journey” to better understand the impact of localized blockages throughout the pandemic.
As of yesterday, 2,575 people have died in Northern Ireland from the coronavirus.