UK team puts coronavirus contagion rate at 2-3 people per infected case

January 29, 2020

The coronavirus contagion rate is alarming, with each infected individual passing on the disease to at least two or three other people on average, according to a recent analysis by Imperial College London (Imperial). Another analysis by researchers at Britain’s Lancaster University (Lancaster) similarly places the contagion rate at 2.5 new people on average being infected by each person already infected.

Neil Ferguson, an infectious disease specialist at Imperial, said containing the outbreak within China remains “unclear” at the present time – suggesting as many as 4,000 people in Wuhan were already infected by Jan. 18 this year and that each patient was already infecting two or three others. Ferguson’s team added that effective control measures would turn the tide of infections significantly – such control measures would halt transmission in at least 60% of cases.

Meanwhile, the Lancaster team predicts the epidemic would “be substantially larger” by early February – epicenter Wuhan alone could have around 190,000 cases of infection by Feb. 4, with subsequent infection “established in other Chinese cities.”

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 41 over the Lunar New Year weekend, with more than 1,400 people infected worldwide – mostly in China.

Countries are debating if tourism and imports from China need to be halted temporarily to limit the spread of the virus, but Raina MacIntyre, Head of the Biosecurity Research Program at the Kirby Institute, at the University of New South Wales, Australia, urges instead for “more data to be published on risk factors, transmission, incubation period and epidemiology, so people can understand what control measures are most appropriate.”

This comes after Australia confirmed its first four cases of the virus in tourists from China, all of whom had been to Wuhan.


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