29 August 2020
A key strategy to prevent a local outbreak during the COVID-19 pandemic is to restrict incoming travel. Once a region has successfully contained the disease, it becomes critical to decide when and how to reopen the borders. Here we explore the impact of border reopening for the example of Newfoundland and Labrador, a Canadian province that has enjoyed no new cases since late April, 2020. We combine a network epidemiology model with machine learning to infer parameters and predict the COVID-19 dynamics upon partial and total airport reopening, with perfect and imperfect quarantine conditions. Our study suggests that upon full reopening, every other day, a new COVID-19 case would enter the province. Under the current conditions, banning air travel from outside Canada is more efficient in managing the pandemic than fully reopening and quarantining 95% of the incoming population. Our study provides quantitative insights of the efficacy of travel restrictions and can inform political decision making in the controversy of reopening.
Submitted to ORA: