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01/28/2020 / By Ethan Huff
A scientific analysis of the coronavirus outbreak has revealed that every person in Wuhan who contracts the disease spreads it to at least two or three other people.
Despite efforts to contain coronavirus with quarantines and increased public awareness, the disease is now spreading exponentially, especially in China where anywhere between 4,500 to 46,000 people now have it (the official government figure is substantially lower than independent models and on-the-ground numbers).
By this upcoming May, China is expected to see 150,000 new cases of coronavirus per day, and this is due in large part to its growing exponential spread from one person to upwards of three or even more.
Researchers from The University of Hong Kong estimate that the current number of infection cases is doubling every week – and that number could increase even more over time.
In addition to human-to-human transmission numbers, there’s also the zoonotic rate of infection, meaning the number of people infected through contact with animals.
As we reported, the Huanan Seafood Market where the media says coronavirus originated sells meat from rodent animals like rats and bats that harbor contagious diseases.
More breaking news about coronavirus can be found at Outbreak.news.
In epidemiology, there’s something called a basic reproduction number, or basic reproductive ratio, that denotes the number of new infection cases generated over the course of an infection period. And for coronavirus, that number is disturbingly high.
One study out of Great Britain, led by infectious disease specialist Neil Ferguson, estimates that the Ro (R naught) for coronavirus is 2.6, while another analysis conducted by researchers at the Guangzhou Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in China puts the Ro for coronavirus at 2.9.
Researchers from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, however, puts the Ro for coronavirus much higher at between 3.6 and 4.0.
If this is an accurate estimate, then every person infected with coronavirus will spread it, on average, to between three and four other people. And those three or four other people will each spread it to three or four other people, sending coronavirus on an exponential trajectory.
“Whether transmission continues at the same rate now critically depends on the effectiveness of the intense control effort now underway in Wuhan and across China,” reported Ferguson and his team from Imperial College London.
It’s important to keep in mind that the Ro for coronavirus will likely differ from place to place. In China, at least so far, the Ro seems to be higher than the Ro in other countries where coronavirus infection has been detected.
But an Ro above a 1 – which would seem to be the case everywhere – means that coronavirus infections will only continue to rise, in some areas more quickly than in others.
Meanwhile, researchers in Guangzhou are expecting the number of coronavirus infections to be much higher than the number of SARS infections from the infamous 2003 outbreak.
The difference, they say, is that SARS symptoms were much more obvious early on, while coronavirus infections can take many days to emerge. And before it even shows up in someone’s system, coronavirus is highly contagious, which makes this a much different animal.
“Our findings indicate that more rigorous control and prevention measures on early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cases infected with 2019-nCoV (coronavirus) are needed to contain its further spread,” they warn.
One of their recommendations involves shortening the period between when a patient is found to have coronavirus symptoms and when he or she is put in isolation. They also recommend further minimizing public gatherings and travel in and out of infected areas.
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