Taipei residents most exposed to coronavirus threat in Taiwan

Big data shows five cities and counties have highest Wuhan virus transmission risks

Chang Hsiao-han, Taiwanese scientist at NTHU 

Chang Hsiao-han, Taiwanese scientist at NTHU  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei leads the country as the municipality with the highest risk of infection from Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a joint study by National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) and the public health school of Harvard University.

Based on big data provided by Facebook, the study found the five most exposed cities to be: Taipei City, New Taipei City, Kaohsiung City, Keelung City, and Hsinchu City. Exposure to crowds is a deciding factor in the assessment.

The study was carried out by a team at NTHU Institute of Bioinformatics and Structural Biology and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The research suggests the chance of contracting the virus from one’s neighborhood is as high as visiting the island country’s 11 scenic spots. The tourist attractions triggered alarms about overcrowding and caused concern the disease would spread further during the Tomb Sweeping Festival earlier this month.

The best way to stay clear of the virus is to stay at home, said Chang Hsiao-han (張筱涵), an NTHU assistant professor and scientist involved in the study. She advised against traveling for the upcoming Labor Day holiday long weekend.

The data used for the study includes the number of people moving from one block to another, each measuring 4.5 square kilometers. Based on real numbers rather than estimated figures, the findings are believed to provide a more accurate picture of human movement in Taiwan amid the outbreak, said Chang.