Many more infected with new China virus than reported, says new analysis

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The estimate that over 1700 peoiople have been infected is based on Wuhan’s population of 19 million, a mean 10-day delay between infection and detection and four-five delay from the onset of symptoms to detection and hospitalisation.

The Wuhan novel coronavirus, a virus previously unknown, could have infected many more people than the number currently reported, a new analysis by the Imperial College, London, has said.

It could well be over 1700, researchers at the Imperial College’s MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis said.

The statistics of the infected shared by the Chinese government, in fact, leaves one question unanswered: If at least three patients of the coronavirus were detected in Thailand and Japan – all three travelled from Wuhan – is it possible that the rest of China doesn’t have a single case?

And, at a time when hundreds of millions of Chinese are travelling within and outside the country for the Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays?

How many persons have been infected with the coronavirus which originated from the central Chinese city of Wuhan until now?

According to the Chinese government there have been 41 confirmed cases including seven people who are critical; two have died.

Until Friday, authorities in Wuhan had also traced 763 people who had close contact with the patients till Wednesday night; 313 of them are under medical observation, according to state media.

But is that all? Especially given the fact that both the WHO and Wuhan health authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

There could many more cases, said the reputed MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis.

Their researchers fear that there are many more infected with the virus.

“We estimate that a total of 1,723 cases of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan City…had onset of symptoms by 12th January 2020 (the last reported onset date of any case),” the Centre said in an analysis released early on Saturday.

The estimate is based on Wuhan’s population of 19 million, a mean 10-day delay between infection and detection and four-five delay from the onset of symptoms to detection and hospitalisation.

The five researchers involved in the report also took into account the total volume of international travel from Wuhan over the last two months, which have been 3,301 passengers per day (as per IATA data.)

“It is likely that the Wuhan outbreak of a novel coronavirus has caused substantially more cases of moderate or severe respiratory illness than currently reported,” the report said.

“The estimates presented here suggest surveillance should be expanded to include all hospitalised cases of pneumonia or severe respiratory disease in the Wuhan area and other well-connected Chinese cities”.

The researchers added: “This analysis does not directly address transmission routes, but past experience with SARS and MERS-CoV outbreaks of similar scale suggests currently self-sustaining human-to-human transmission should not be ruled out.”