Impact of Urban Structure on Infectious Disease Spreading

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The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic evidences that promptly detecting which areas and

regions are most susceptible to reinfections is critical to implement adequate containment

policies. Mobility has always been key to viral spreading, but the relatively slow pace of vaccination in the majority of countries,

together with the appearance of new aggressive variants, have forced mitigation measures to rely

primarily on non-pharmaceutical interventions This puts urban centers in

the focus of epidemic surveillance and intervention. Here we show that the organization of

urban flows has a tremendous impact on disease spreading and on mitigation strategies. By studying anonymous and aggregated intra-urban flows in a variety ofcities in the US and other countries, and a combination of empirical analysis and

numerical methods, we demonstrate that the response of cities to epidemic spreading can be

classified into two major types. Centralized cities are

particularly vulnerable to the rapid spread of epidemics. Nevertheless, mobility restrictions in

such types of cities are very effective in mitigating the spread of a virus. Conversely, in

sprawled cities that present many centers of activity, the spread of an epidemic is much

slower, but the response to mobility restrictions is much weaker and less effective.

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Tobias Galla

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