Simulation of the geographical spread of COVID-19 disease based on mobile cell data: animated dispersal of undiagnosed infected and modelling the mobility behaviour under displacement restrictions

Published: 04-06-2020| Version 3 | DOI: 10.17632/xpzt8rsxbc.3
Tünde Szabó,
Márton Prorok,
Bence Berkes


Real-time tracking of the spatial diffusion of airborne diseases, and especially COVID-19 is in the focal point of both recent academic studies and policymaking. Airborne pathogens are handed over by interpersonal encounters. Therefore, agent-based modelling provides a useful approach to grasp the complex and interrelated nature of spatiotemporal movement and the geographical spread of infectious diseases. Although technology development rendered it to be feasible to track the spatial spread of infected individuals, the spatial scale of data retrieval can cause challenging bottlenecks for academic analysis. Samples on community-scale, for instance, by crowdsourced data as well as the global level of international aircraft movements are addressed. However, regional-scale spread of airborne diseases conveyed by human mobility rarely comes into focus. By directing our efforts to the level of countrywide diffusion, we aim to disclose the spatial component of airborne pathogens’ infection carried over by interpersonal encounters. The mobile cell dataset we applied here is especially suitable to estimate the number of interpersonal encounters, that is enabled by co-locating the same space with an infected person within a definite timeframe. Consequently, we considered mobile phone data driven co-location as ‘locational chance’ of airborne pathogen spreading. The volume of spread, as we argue, is dependent on the interpersonal connections. According to the current results, the geographical spread of COVID-19 is dominantly carried over by latently infected individuals, who transmit the disease without showing any symptoms. We modelled the interpersonal encounters of a set of randomly chosen latent infected as an indicator of the further geographical spread of the disease. We applied two various sets of models running: one, that is based on real archive data, and the other, that simulates current mobility patterns ordered by relocation restrictions.