Wuhan could now have 300,000 coronavirus infections: Study

HKU study says Wuhan virus infections to 'double every 6 days'

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(AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A study released in a respected scientific journal last week calculated that the number of Wuhan virus infections has already surpassed 300,000 and that the number of cases will "double every 6.4 days."

A scientific modeling study carried out by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and published on The Lancet website last week suggests the Chinese government has underestimated the epidemic tenfold. The study estimates that the number of cases is much higher given the 2.68 spread rate per case, the doubling of total infections every 6.4 days, and known travel patterns in China and worldwide.

The study stated that by Jan. 25, there were probably already 75,815 people infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan. This number for January far exceeds the 28,000 cases claimed by the government on Feb. 6.

Given that the report estimated over 75,000 cases on Jan. 25, that it has been 12 days, and that infections double every 6.4 days, the number of cases in Wuhan alone would now be around 300,000.

The study then predicts that if there is "no reduction in transmissibility," infections should peak by April of this year. The report then said that there would be a one to two week lag for the rest of China's cities.

The researchers wrote that if transmissibility was reduced by 25 percent, both the growth rate and magnitude of local epidemics would be reduced. If transmissibility could be reduced by 50 percent, the spread of the virus would be slowed substantially, but it would also peak much later in the year.

The authors concluded that the massive quarantine effort in Wuhan will have a negligible effect on the forward trajectories of the epidemic in other cities because these have already been "seeded" with dozens of infections. The report then stated that "local epidemics are probably already growing exponentially in multiple major Chinese cities" and that given the large numbers of travelers from those cities to destinations across the globe, other countries are at risk of experiencing Wuhan virus epidemics in the first half of this year.