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article imageNew model to estimate spread of the novel coronavirus

By Tim Sandle     Feb 1, 2020 in Science
A new modeling study has been used to estimate the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The model reveals that up to 75,800 individuals in the Chinese city of Wuhan may have been infected to date.
Determining how many people may have become infected with the novel cornavirus is unclear. This is due to the absence of a robust and detailed timeline from the Chinese authorities, plus concealed information, and incomplete records of suspected, probable, and confirmed cases. Moreover, assessing close contacts with those infected is not easy to assess. This means the actual size of the epidemic is unclear. From this, working out the pandemic potential remains is fraught with difficulty for epidemiologists.
To assist with the estimates a new model has been devised and it comes from the University of Hong Kong, as The Daily Telegraph reports.
The model uses more advanced data, such as accounting for the time lag between infection and symptom onset. The model also accounts for delays in infected persons coming to medical attention, plus the time needed to confirm cases by laboratory analysis.
MERS virus as seen on electron microscopy.
MERS virus as seen on electron microscopy.
CDC / Wikimedia commons
Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans. The disease was first reported in the Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Most patients worked at or lived around the local Huanan seafood wholesale market, where live animals were also on sale.
The computer-based model reveals that during the initial stages of the Wuhan outbreak (the period of time from December 1, 2019 to January 25, 2020) each person who was infected with 2019-nCoV will probably have infected between 2 and 3 other people. This means that the epidemic will have doubled in size every 6.4 days. During this period, up to 75,815 individuals were probably infected in Wuhan.
The associated risk is with those who left the Wuhan area. The model presents some stark analysis, such as the apparent underestimation about the numbers of Chinese cities, such as Guangzhou and Beijing, that have imported dozens of cases of 2019-nCoV infection from Wuhan, during December 2019.
The new strain of coronavirus has so far killed 17 people
The new strain of coronavirus has so far killed 17 people
NICOLAS ASFOURI, AFP
The new model has been presented to the journal The Lancet. The research paper is titled "Nowcasting and forecasting the potential domestic and international spread of the 2019-nCoV outbreak originating in Wuhan, China: a modelling study."
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