Possible environmental effects on the spread of COVID-19 in China.

Abstract At the end of 2019, a novel coronavirus, designated as SARS-CoV-2, emerged in Wuhan, China and was identified as the causal pathogen of COVID-19. The epidemic scale of COVID-19 has increased dramatically, with confirmed cases increasing across China and globally. Understanding the potential affecting factors involved in COVID-19 transmission will be of great significance in containing the spread of the epidemic. Environmental and meteorological factors might impact the occurrence of COVID-19, as these have been linked to various diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), whose causative pathogens belong to the same virus family as SARS-CoV-2. We collected daily data of COVID-19 confirmed cases, air quality and meteorological variables of 33 locations in China for the outbreak period of 29 January 2020 to 15 February 2020. The association between air quality index (AQI) and confirmed cases was estimated through a Poisson regression model, and the effects of temperature and humidity on the AQI-confirmed cases association were analyzed. The results show that the effect of AQI on confirmed cases associated with an increase in each unit of AQI was statistically significant in several cities. The lag effect of AQI on the confirmed cases was statistically significant on lag day 1 (relative risk (RR) = 1.0009, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0004, 1.0013), day 2 (RR = 1.0007, 95% CI: 1.0003, 1.0012) and day 3 (RR = 1.0008, 95% CI: 1.0003, 1.0012). The AQI effect on the confirmed cases might be stronger in the temperature range of 10 °C ≤ T
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