Analytical Insights

Correlation Between Mobility Restriction and Spread of COVID-19

The top 30 countries in UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI)1 were analysed to uncover the dynamic relationships, if any, on human movement2 to the transmission of COVID-19. It was observed that when Governments in these countries announce and implement various kinds of movement control, there is a noticeable correlation in COVID-19 confirmed cases declining after about 2-3 weeks.

Figure 1 The Yellow Column shows the point where mobility greatly decreases for transit stations, workplaces, retail and recreation, which is then followed by a decrease in confirmed number of COVID-19 cases

This relationship in declining cases appears to be strongly correlated when community mobility in transit stations, workplaces, retail and recreation reduces by 40% or more compared to pre-Government-announced measures.

Figure 2 As shown by the Yellow column, on 22nd September 2020 Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a raft of new coronavirus restrictions for England, which immediately resulted in significant reduction in mobility at parks

The first movement indicator to usually show an immediate response or compliance towards the Government’s call to reduce movement in public spaces was observed, showing a decline in mobility at parks. These observations appear to indicate that compliance to Government-announced social distancing measures have a direct correlation to the effectiveness in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

Credit to: Dr Chook Jack Bee, Prof David Bradley, Prof Teo Kok Lay, Dr Lai Kee Huong, Dr Jane Teh Kimm Lii and Dr Peh Suat Cheng, Sunway University

Note: The above analysis was made possible by the collaboration of Sunway University with the Global COVID-19 Index (GCI) initiative.

1 The UNDP HDI ranks countries according to life expectancy, education levels and GNI per capita. Countries analysed were Norway, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Netherland, Australia, Denmark, Singapore, Finland, United Kingdom, Belgium, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Austria, Israel, Japan, Slovenia, Korea, Luxembourg, Spain, France, Czech Republic, Malta, Estonia, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Greece
2 Mobility datasets were obtained from Google and covers mobility observations in the categories of retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplaces, and residential relative to pre-epidemic period.