China Provides Updates On Wuhan Virus Outbreak & Possibility Of Hidden Carriers

Why is China’s outlook on the epidemic so grim despite closing the OG seafood market where the virus originated back in Dec 2019?

The reasons are simple, but quite disturbing.

‘Hidden carriers’, which are asymptomatic or patients with little to no symptoms within the infectious 1-14 day window, reportedly make it hard for the government to contain & trace the outbreak, says the China’s National Health Commission.

They’ve also forewarned about a 1,000 more confirmed cases in the near future. We’ve compiled relevant information published below.

Additional 1,000 cases expected says Wuhan mayor

The current death toll is 56 people, and they’ve announced that the global tally of over 2,000 patients is expected to rise.

An estimated additional 1,000 cases are expected in the coming days, according to the Mayor of Wuhan’s statement carried by South China Morning Post (SCMP).

But why is the case count expected to increase so significantly?

5 million Wuhan residents left city before transport lockdown

About 5 million residents had left Wuhan before transport was ceased for 2 main reasons — to celebrate the Lunar New Year & also to avoid the virus outbreak, reports SCMP.

Currently, the city of Wuhan has 2,700 suspected cases in quarantine – of which 1,000 were likely confirmed cases — possibly added to the current count of 533 patients after review.

This would be the case for the city of Wuhan alone, not inclusive of other cities in China.

Hidden carriers limit efforts to contain outbreak

Health officials have also confirmed that the Wuhan virus’ ability to spread may be “faster” thanks to its adaptation to the human body.

nCov-2019 (Wuhan coronavirus)
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This, unfortunately, adds to its prowess in replicating & spreading to other humans.

There’s also the issue of ‘hidden carriers’ to consider. A hidden carrier is defined as a person infected with a virus, but exhibits mild to no symptoms at all.

These patients are capable of transmitting the virus to other people – without their own knowledge – making it hard to trace the spread or isolate them.

Most affected patients are aged 40-60 years old

Currently, statistics show that most patients affected fall between the ages of 40 to 60 years old.

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As a quick comparison, the SARS epidemic which involved 800 deaths and 8,000 confirmed cases, had an incubation period of 2-7 days.

However, the virus wasn’t infectious during the incubation period.

China has banned wildlife trade till outbreak is contained

Although the move seems belated in retrospect, China has banned the shipping and sale of wildlife till the Wuhan virus outbreak has been successfully contained.

No official study or information has confirmed the pathogen’s link to a wild animal host, but a connection has been deemed possible.

List of countries affected

Here’s a list of the countries & cities affected by the Wuhan virus and their current patient count:

  • China – 2,034 cases, 56 deaths
  • Hong Kong – 6 cases
  • Macau – 5 cases
  • Taiwan – 3 cases
  • Asia – 24 cases
    • Singapore – 4 cases
    • Malaysia – 4 cases
    • Korea – 3 cases
    • Japan – 3 cases
    • Thailand – 7 cases
  • Europe (France) – 3 cases
  • North America (US & Canada) – 3 cases
  • Australia – 4 cases

This brings the global total to 2,082 cases and 56 deaths. Do note that information is accurate at the time of writing but is expected to rise by the time the article is published.

Not a WHO-certified global pandemic yet

Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed that the Wuhan situation is a national emergency for China, they haven’t declared the Wuhan outbreak a public health emergency of international concern yet.

They have not ruled out the possibility, however, that it “may yet become one”.

Do note that reports about their decision are dated about 4 days ago (23 Jan), before all the recent developments & increasing case count.

This means we should look out for an announcement from them soon.

Keep healthcare providers & victims in your thoughts

While we await further information on the virus, besides practicing good personal hygiene & staying vigilant for flu symptoms, we’ll also be keeping the well-being of healthcare professionals on the frontline in our thoughts.

Finally, we offer our condolences to the families of victims who have passed away & hope that studies to detect the pathogen & produce vaccines or anti-viral medication will be successful soon.

Featured image adapted from ScienceNews & TouristSecrets.