Coronavirus and Migration: Analysis of Human Mobility and the Spread of Covid-19




arts interventions, coproduction, discomfort, encounters, youth integration


Reactions, measures as well as discourses dealing with the current pandemic vary significantly across the world. While some countries were completely locked down, as was the case in Italy, some had claimed to have very few or no cases, as was the case in Turkey and Indonesia by March 10th, 2020. Nevertheless, the spread of COVID-19 from China has been clearly linked to those travelling from Wuhan in Hubei province in Central China. Therefore, it is important to understand the travel density/volume of passengers carried as well as routes from Wuhan through connected main regional air travel hubs across China. In this study, we developed a model on migration and travel intensity that can explain outbreak and spread COVID-19 since it appeared at the end of 2019. We show that the presence of migrant stock populations of Chinese origin and the immigrant stock in China are useful indicators in the prediction of the spread of the outbreak worldwide in the event of interaction with several other macro factors. We argue that monitoring immigrant stock data and travel volume data based on human mobility corridors (i.e. origins and destinations), countries could have been better prepared and taken early measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biography

Ibrahim Sirkeci, International British Business School

Professor and Director of International British Business School

Twitter: @isirkeci


Afifi, A.A. & Clark, V. (1999). Computer-Aided Multivariate Analysis. Third ed., London: Chapman and Hall/CRC Press.

Addio, A.C. & Ercole, M.M. (2005). Trends and determinants of fertility in OECD countries: The role of policies. Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, no. 27. Cedex.

Anthamatten, P. and Hazen, H. (2011). An Introduction to the Geography of Health. London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Bacher, J. (2002). Cluster Analysis. Nuremberg: University Erlangen.

CATO (Cato Institute) (2020). Human Freedom Index by Cato Institute. Available at: Accessed: 11/03/2020.

Chan, J. F. W., Yuan, S., Kok, K-H., To, K. K-W., Chu, H., Yang, J., Xing, F., Jieling Liu, BNurs, J. L., Yip, C. C-Y., Rosana Wing-Shan Poon, R. W-S., Tsoi, H-W., Lo, S. K-F., Chan, K-H., Poon, V. K-M., Chan, W-M., Ip, J. D., Cai, J-P., Vincent Chi-Chung Cheng, V. C-C., Chen, H., Christopher Kim-Ming Hui, C. K-M. and Prof Kwok-Yung Yuen, K-Y. (2020). A familial cluster of pneumonia associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus indicating person-to-person transmission: a study of a family cluster. The Lancet, 395(10223): 514-523.

Cohen, J. H. (2004). The Culture of Migration in Southern Mexico. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Cohen, J. H., & Sirkeci, I. (2011). Cultures of migration: The global nature of contemporary mobility. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) (2020). COVID-19 Geographic Distribution Worldwide. Accessed from, on March 23, 2020.

Everitt, B. S. & Dunn, G. (1991). Applied Multivariate Data Analysis. London: Cambridge University Press.

Ferguson, N. M., Laydon, D., Nedjati-Gilani, G., Imai, N., Ainslie, K., Baguelin, M., Bhatia, S., Boonyasiri, A., Cucunubá, Z., Cuomo-Dannenburg, G., Dighe, A., Dorigatti, I., Fu, H., Gaythorpe, K., Green, W., Hamlet, A., Hinsley, W., Okell, L. C., van Elsland, S., Thompson, H., Verity, R., Volz, E., Wang, H., Wang, Y., Walker, P. G. T., Walters, C., Winskill, P., Whittaker, C., Donnelly, C. A., Riley, S., Ghani, A.C. (2020). Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand. Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team. DOI: Accessed from, on March 20, 2020.

Gould, P. (1993). The Slow Plague: A Geography of the AIDS Pandemic. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Ho, A. Lopez, A. Eberhart, M., Levenson, R., Finkel, B. da Silva, A., Roberts, J., Orlandi, P., Johnson, C. and Herwaldt, B. (2002). Outbreak of cyclosporiasis associated with imported raspberries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2000. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 8: 783-788.

Holshue, M. L., DeBolt, C., Lindquist, S., Lofy, K. H., Wiesman, J., Bruce, H., Spitters, C., Ericson, K., Wilkerson, S., Tural, A., Diaz, G., Cohn, A., Fox, C. L., Patel, A., Gerber, S. I., Kim, L., Tong, S., Lu, X., Lindstrom, S., Pallansch, M. A., Weldon, W. C., Biggs, H. M., Uyeki, T. M. and Pillai, S. K. (2020). First case of 2019 novel coronavirus in the United States. The New England Journal of Medicine, 382 (10): 929-936.

Hunter, D.J. (2020). Covid-19 and the Stiff Upper Lip — The Pandemic Response in the United Kingdom. The New England Journal of Medicine, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp2005755.

Jilani, T. N., Jamil, R. T., & Siddiqui, A. H. (2019). H1N1 Influenza (Swine Flu). In StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing. Accessed from, on March 22, 2020.

Jones, K., Patel, N., Levy, M. Storeygard, A., Balk, D., Gittleman, J. and Daszak, P. (2008). Global trends in emerging infectious diseases. Nature, 451: 990-993.

Klempner, M. & Shapiro, D. (2004). Crossing the species barrier – one small step to man, one giant leap to mankind. New England Journal of Medicine, 350: 1171-1172.

Lai, C. C., Shih, T. P., Ko, W. C., Tang, H. J., & Hsueh, P. R. (2020a). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and corona virus disease-2019 (COVID-19): the epidemic and the challenges. International journal of antimicrobial agents, 105924. Accessed: 25 March 2020.

Lai, S., Bogoch, I. I., Ruktanonchai, N. W., Watts, A., Lu, X., Yang, W., Yu, H., Khan, K. & Tatem, A. J. (2020b). Assessing spread risk of Wuhan novel coronavirus within and beyond China, January-April 2020: A travel network-based modelling study. medRxiv (The Preprint Server for Health Sciences) preprint: 1-25. doi:, Accessed: March 11, 2020.

Lipsitch, M., Swerdlow, D. L., & Finelli, L. (2020). Defining the epidemiology of Covid-19—studies needed. New England Journal of Medicine. Accessed from, on March 22, 2020.

Ma, J. (2020). Coronavirus: China’s first confirmed Covid-19 case traced back to November 17, South China Morning Post, 13 March 2020. Accessed from, on March 20, 2020.

MacKernan, B. (2020). Turkey announces its first case of coronavirus. The Guardian, 11 March 2020. Accessed from, on March 16, 2020.

Masterton, R. and Green, A. (1991). Dissemination of human pathogens by airline travel. Journal of Applied Bacteriology (Symposium Supplement), 70: S31-S38.

Mayer, J. (2000). Geography, ecology and emerging infectious diseases. Social Science & Medicine, 50: 937-952.

NHCPRC (National Health Commission of People’s Republic of China) (2020a). Outbreak Notification. Accessed from, on March 16, 2020.

NHCPRC (National Health Commission of People’s Republic of China) (2020b). Wuhan Municipal Health and Health Commission's Report on Unexplained Viral Pneumonia. Accessed from, on March 16, 2020.

Oppong, J. (1998). A vulnerability interpretation of the geography of HIV AIDS in Ghana, 1986-1995. Professional Geographer, 50: 437-448.

Rencher, A.C. (2002). Methods of Multivariate Analysis. Second Ed., London: John Wiley & Sons.

Sirkeci, I. (2013). Transnational Marketing and Transnational Consumers. London: Springer.

United Nations (UN) (2020). The 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects. Accessed from, on March 24, 2020.

United Nations (UN) (2019). Human Development Report 2019: Beyond Income, Beyond Averages, Beyond Today: Inequalities in Human Development in the 21st Century. United Nations Development Programme, New York.

Vásquez, I. and Porčnik, T. (2019). The Human Freedom Index 2019: A Global Measurement of Personal, Civil, and Economic Freedom. Washington: Cato Institute, Fraser Institute, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.

Walters, M. (2003). Six Modern Plagues and How We are Causing Them. Washington, DC: Island Press / Shearwater Books.

WB (World Bank) (2020). Migration and Remittances Data. Accessed from, on March 15, 2020.

WHO (World Health Organization) (2020a). Coronavirus. Accessed from, on March 29, 2020.

WHO (World Health Organization) (2020b). Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) Outbreak. Accessed from, on March 11, 2020.

WHO (World Health Organization) (2020c). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Situation Reports. Accessed from, on March 29, 2020.

WHO (World Health Organization) (2020d). Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Accessed from, on March 20, 2020.

WHO (World Health Organization) (2020e). Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Accessed from, on March 20, 2020.

WHO (World Health Organization) (2020f). Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic. Accessed from, on March 20, 2020.

Yüceşahin, M. M. and Tulga, A. Y. (2017). Demographic and Social Change in the Middle East and North Africa: Processes, Spatial Patterns, and Outcomes. Population Horizons, 14(2): 47-60.




How to Cite

Sirkeci, I., & Yucesahin, M. M. (2020). Coronavirus and Migration: Analysis of Human Mobility and the Spread of Covid-19. Migration Letters, 17(2), 379–398.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 3 > >>