City dwellers not more likely to contract COVID-19: study


Say what you want about the giant New York rats, the smog of Los Angeles, and the crime rates of Chicago, but those crowded quotes aren’t more likely to put residents at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Data from a health app based in Tehran, Iran – an early epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic – has shown that bustling cities are relatively safe from this pandemic.

“Population density alone cannot be considered a risk factor,” the researchers wrote in a new study published in Sustainable Cities and Society, a peer-reviewed journal focusing on architecture and urban planning. .

Their findings come with a caveat, however. They noted the difference between “high density” and “overcrowding,” the latter suggesting more obstacles to achieving safe social distancing among residents.

“What drives the spread of infectious diseases during a pandemic is overpopulation which functions differently from density and can also occur in low density districts,” the study authors wrote. “As a result, metropolitan areas and densely populated areas can also be safe during the pandemic, as density alone cannot be considered a risk factor for Covid-19.”

Overcrowding is the real risk in a pandemic - not the cities themselves.
Overcrowding is the real risk during a pandemic – not the cities themselves.

Researchers from the universities of Tehran and Isfahan, as well as the University of Hiroshima in Japan, recovered data collected by Iran’s national contact tracing application COVID-19, AC19.

Tehran has more than 8.6 million people in 22 districts, but the density of neighborhoods was the lowest in terms of the distribution of COVID-19. More critical factors included age, wealth and access to health care, as well as behavioral variables, such as the likelihood of some residents to follow public health recommendations.

For example, coronavirus death rates tended to be higher in communities with a higher proportion of older people. Meanwhile, indicators such as higher education level and car ownership have highlighted a reduction in cases of illness, according to the study.

The researchers admit that their report may not reflect a current analysis of trends due to a lack of fresh data.

The AC19 Android app was removed from Google’s App Store late last year for privacy concerns, amid allegations the Iranian government was collecting location data from millions of citizens, according to a report from Vice News. The application has of course remained available through the Iranian application store Cafe Bazaar.

“It may be too early to draw definitive conclusions, so future research should continue to study the relationship between urban density and the modes of transmission of infectious diseases,” said Nabi Moradpour, researcher at the University of Tehran. , in a press release attached to the study.


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