Transportation Safety and Environment, 2021
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Abstract This study analyses the relationship between the epidemic spread of COVID-19 and urban population migration in Hubei Province, China. Based on an improved gravity model, the population inflow numbers for each city from 10 January to 23 February are estimated. A correlation analysis is done to reveal the impact of population inflow on the number of infected people in the 14 days after 23 January, the day Wuhan was locked down. The results show that: (i) the population outflow from Wuhan was mostly distributed between Xiaogan, Huanggang, Ezhou and Huangshi in Hubei Province; (ii) the number of accumulated confirmed patients is closely associated with inflows from Wuhan, which displayed by correlation coefficient 1 with a mean of 0.88 and a maximum of 0.93. Meanwhile, there is a weak correlation between the number of people that came from cities except Wuhan and accumulated confirmed patients, which indicated by correlation coefficient 2 with a mean of 0.65 and a maximum of 0.75; and (iii) the total population inflow is a greater predictor of epidemic spread than the population inflow from Wuhan.