COVID-19: Extreme Social Distancing Can Save 150000 Lives in Lebanon

In response to the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, the Office of Graduate Studies and Research at LAU has compiled data forecasting the impact of the pandemic in Lebanon, and the level of social distancing measures to contain it.

The forecast of the daily number of infected cases, recoveries and deaths due to COVID-19 in Lebanon (see figure 1) is projected in a window of 112 days, beginning March 19 and ending by end June 2020, for three scenarios under consideration:

FREE-FOR-ALL: No social distancing measures are followed, and normal life is assumed;

MODERATE DISTANCING:  An illustrative case would be 1 out of every 4 people moves freely or resumes normal life;

EXTENSIVE DISTANCING: An illustrative case would be 1 out of every 8 people moves freely or resumes normal life.

The forecast is based on time-series analysis and uses the data before March 19 to predict the number of recoveries. The employed model assumes an initial death rate of 3% of the total identified cases, which increases to 6% once the total number of critical cases requiring intensive care exceeds 250 patients. The latter reflects the limitations of the healthcare system. The forecasted results do not consider confounding factors (such as lifestyle, environmental factors, consanguinity, etc.). However, the model is applied to Wuhan reported data and is shown to closely capture its trends.

This forecast would imply that the social distancing extreme measures are the most effective, including namely the ‘stay at home’ policies, the isolation of regions/cities, closure of schools and universities, self-quarantine and community quarantines, cancellation of mass gatherings, limitation of public transportation, workplace closures, travel restrictions, etc. Extreme measures would imply the simultaneous implementation of these policies.

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