Modeling the Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Outbreak in Sicily, Italy
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Italy was the first country in Europe which imposed control measures of travel restrictions, quarantine and contact precautions to tackle the epidemic spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in all its regions. While such efforts are still ongoing, uncertainties regarding SARS-CoV-2 transmissibility and ascertainment of cases make it difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of restrictions. Here, we employed a Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered-Dead (SEIRD) model to assess SARS-CoV-2 transmission dynamics, working on the number of reported patients in intensive care unit (ICU) and deaths in Sicily (Italy), from 24 February to 13 April. Overall, we obtained a good fit between estimated and reported data, with a fraction of unreported SARS-CoV-2 cases (18.4%; 95%CI = 0–34.0%) before 10 March lockdown. Interestingly, we estimated that transmission rate in the community was reduced by 32% (95%CI = 23–42%) after the first set of restrictions, and by 80% (95%CI = 70–89%) after those adopted on 23 March. Thus, our estimates delineated the characteristics of SARS-CoV2 epidemic before restrictions taking into account unreported data. Moreover, our findings suggested that transmission rates were reduced after the adoption of control measures. However, we cannot evaluate whether part of this reduction might be attributable to other unmeasured factors, and hence further research and more accurate data are needed to understand the extent to which restrictions contributed to the epidemic control.