Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first identified in Wuhan, China on December 2019 in patients presenting with atypical pneumonia. Although ‘city-lockdown’ policy reduced the spatial spreading of the COVID-19, the city-level outbreaks within each city remain a major concern to be addressed. The local or regional level disease control mainly depends on individuals self-administered infection prevention actions. The contradiction between choice of taking infection prevention actions or not makes the elimination difficult under a voluntary acting scheme, and represents a clash between the optimal choice of action for the individual interest and group interests.
Methods: We develop a compartmental epidemic model based on the classic susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered model and use this to fit the data. Behavioral imitation through a game theoretical decision-making process is incorporated to study and project the dynamics of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China. By varying the key model parameters, we explore the probable course of the outbreak in terms of size and timing under several public interventions in improving public awareness and sensitivity to the infection risk as well as their potential impact.