Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Levels of economic growth and cross-province spread of the COVID-19 in China


Background After the first COVID-19 case detected on 8 December 2019 in Wuhan, the Provincial Capital of Hubei, the epidemic quickly spread throughout the whole country of China. Low developmental levels are often associated with infectious disease epidemic, this study attempted to test this notion with COVID-19 data.

Methods Data by province from 8 December 2019 to 16 February 2020 were analysed using regression method. Outcomes were days from the first COVID-19 case in the origin of Hubei Province to the date when case was first detected in a destination province, and cumulative number of confirmed cases. Provincial gross domestic products (GDPs) were used to predict the outcomes while considering spatial distance and population density.

Results Of the total 70 548 COVID-19 cases in all 31 provinces, 58 182 (82.5%) were detected in Hubei and 12 366 (17.5%) in other destination provinces. Regression analysis of data from the 30 provinces indicated that GDP was negatively associated with days of virus spreading (β=−0.2950, p<0.10) and positively associated with cumulative cases (β=97.8709, p<0.01) after controlling for spatial distance. The relationships were reversed with β=0.1287 (p<0.01) for days and β=−54.3756 (p<0.01) for cumulative cases after weighing in population density and controlling for spatial distance.

Conclusion Higher levels of developmental is a risk factor for cross-province spread of COVID-19. This study adds new data to literature regarding the role of economic growth in facilitating spatial spreading of infectious diseases, and provides timely data informing antiepidemic strategies and developmental plan to balance economic growth and people’s health.

  • epidemics
  • health policy
  • social epidemiology
  • socio-economic

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. The data in our study were public available and collected from official websites.

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.