In DepthCOVID-19

Case clustering emerges as key pandemic puzzle

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Science  22 May 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6493, pp. 808-809
DOI: 10.1126/science.368.6493.808


Many "superspreading events" have occurred in the COVID-19 pandemic, including at a choir practice in Washington state, a dormitory for migrant workers in Singapore, live music venues in Japan, and Zumba classes in South Korea. Clusters have also occurred aboard ships and at nursing homes, meatpacking plants, ski resorts, churches, restaurants, hospitals, and prisons. Sometimes a single person infects dozens of people, whereas other clusters unfold across several generations of spread, in multiple venues. COVID-19 seems especially prone to attacking groups of tightly connected people while sparing others. This finding is encouraging, scientists say, because it suggests that restricting gatherings where superspreading is likely to occur will have a major impact on transmission and that other restrictions—on outdoor activity, for example—might be eased.

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