(Bloomberg) -- The new coronavirus may have infected at least 1 in 20 people in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the global outbreak, by the time it peaks in coming weeks, according to scientists modeling its spread.
The typically bustling megacity, where the so-called 2010-nCoV virus emerged late last year, has been in lockdown since Jan. 23, restricting the movement of 11 million people. Trends in reported cases in Wuhan so far broadly support the mathematical modeling the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is using to predict the epidemic’s transmission dynamics.
“Assuming current trends continue, we’re still projecting a mid-to-late-February peak” in Wuhan, said Adam Kucharski, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology, in an email Sunday. “There’s a lot of uncertainty, so I’m cautious about picking out a single value for the peak, but it’s possible based on current data we might see a peak prevalence over 5%.”
Health authorities in China and around the world are anxiously waiting to know whether the world’s largest known quarantine has been effective in containing the pneumonia-causing virus in Wuhan and across other cities in Hubei province, the landlocked region of 60 million people.
Kucharski, whose research focuses on the dynamics of infectious diseases, and colleagues have based their modeling on a range of assumptions about the 2019-nCoV virus, including an incubation of 5.2 days and a delay from the onset of symptoms to confirmation of infection of 6.1 days.
Some studies indicate an infected person may not display symptoms for 14 days or more, with testing and confirmation of cases adding to delays in the time it will take to identify whether China’s unprecedented disease-control measures have worked.
“The next two weeks are really critical to understand what’s been happening,” said Benjamin Cowling, head of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Hong Kong, in an interview in Melbourne on Thursday. “And, is this going to spread into other locations, or have we avoided what could be a global pandemic because of the control measures that have been implemented to date.”
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