In December of 2019, 27 patients with viral pneumonia including 7 severe cases were reported in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province and one of the largest cities of China. By the morning of January 23, 2020, the infected cases have increased to 571 including 17 deaths, and spread to 25 of 31 mainland provinces and municipals and Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as well as to 7 other countries, including South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Mexico and the United States of America.
A considerable progress has been achieved with respect to seventeen years ago, when the world had to face, completely unprepared, the “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome” (SARS) pandemics. This time, the scientists in China CDC networks identified a new strain of coronavirus and confirmed it as the pathogen of this new epidemic within a few weeks after the first case was noticed. The Chinese health authorities communicated the detail information of the epidemic with the public, the World Health Organization (WHO) and international community in a timely manner and shared the full genome sequence of the new virus with the global scientific community. Despite the significant progress being made, there are many issues remain to cope with, and substantial challenges have been posed to the significantly improved public health emergency response in China and globally. Given the fact of over 300 million people crossing mainland China’s border each year and the estimated 3 billion person times travelling during the Chinese lunar new year (January 24th – 30th), how to control the epidemic becomes a major cause of concern. Nonetheless, there is more hope for the better control of this epidemic, since the virus is facing a much better prepared epidemic control forces both in China and globally.
The experts of the WHO’s emergency committee have not yet reached a consensus whether the spreading of the new coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern, requiring a coordinated and integrated international response. As recognized by the same WHO, mathematical models, especially those timely, play a key role in informing evidence-based decisions by health decision- and policy-makers. The mathematical modelling community should be ready and make efforts to assist stakeholders in the decision-making processes. Efforts should be made to provide them with timely mathematical simulations and analyses, as already is happening with some models being released as pre-prints and published through speedy process. Whether or not WHO will declare this new coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern, we do believe global collaboration and rapid dissemination of mathematical modelling research results about this new coronavirus is important.
Infectious Disease Modelling, as a peer-reviewed open access journal created to foster and advance research at the interface of mathematical modelling and public health of infection diseases, has accepted the challenge to scholarly serve for the community, offering fast-track peer-review of submissions concerning this global public health emergency. All publications of the Infectious Disease Modelling are now becoming freely available, and a special issue is being created (see Call for Submission of our website) to ensure rapid processing of high quality research work.
Editors in Chief, Infectious Disease Modelling
Prof. Yiming Shao
Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), Beijing, China
Prof. Jianhong Wu
Centre for Disease Modelling, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, York University, Toronto, Canada