1 Qinzhou Key Laboratory of Marine Resources and Environmental Remote Sensing, Beibu Gulf University, Qinzhou 535011, P.R. China

2 School of Economics and Management, Beibu Gulf University, Qinzhou 535011, P.R. China

3 College of Natural Resources and Surveying and Mapping, Nanning Normal University, Nanning 530001, P.R. China

4 Ningbo Eye Hospital, Ningbo 315000, P.R.China4Ningbo Eye Hospital, Ningbo 315000, P.R. China


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been identified as the main cause of the outbreak of the respiratory disease in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China in December 2019. Since then, the epidemic has spread rapidly throughout China and many other countries in the world. This study, therefore, examines the spatiotemporal distribution of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 and its effect on human development in China, and suggested social and non-pharmaceutical preventive interventions to help curb the further spread of the disease. The public open data available from January to February 2020, from the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China and a medical knowledge sharing website were used, and spatial analysis was performed to visualize the spatial distribution pattern of COVID-19 in China. The results showed among others that COVID-19 had entered a dispersed spatial pattern, resulting in increased pressure to control the spread of the disease. In early March, there was a significant reduction in the existing number of cases, and the number of deaths also decreased. At the provincial level, the spatial distribution of the number of cumulative confirmed cases in China was divided into four patterns: Hubei was the initial core region; the eastern provinces adjacent to Hubei formed the second concentrated pattern; the western provinces adjacent to Hubei and the northeastern and southeastern provinces which were separated from Hubei by one province belonged to the third distribution pattern; while the rest of the provinces in the north, south and west showing sporadic distribution patterns formed the fourth. It has been estimated that about 80% of students’ online learning at all schools were not effective due to lack of access to reliable and uninterrupted internet services especially in the rural areas of China.

Graphical Abstract

The spatial and temporal pattern of COVID-19 and its effect on humans’ development in China


  • In early March 2020, there was a significant reduction in the existing number of cases, and the number of deaths also decreased;
  • At the provincial level, the spatial distribution of the number of cumulative confirmed cases in China was divided into four patterns;
  • At the prefecture level inside Hubei Province, the confirmed cases presented a four-level distribution pattern;
  • The national spatial distribution of confirmed cases at the province level and distribution inside Hubei at the prefecture level had similar patterns;
  • Inside Hubei, all areas surrounding Wuhan required additional attention to avoid high levels of human-to-human transmission;
  • COVID-19 has high potential effect of human life, in terms of education, healthcare and living standards.


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