Study: people infected by new coronavirus 'likely' hundreds more than confirmed

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Monday, January 20, 2020

On Friday, researchers at Imperial College London posted findings estimating the number of people infected with a new coronavirus may considerably exceed 1000. The SARS-like virus first appeared in December in Wuhan, China. As of today, Chinese officials confirmed it has infected over 200 people mostly in Wuhan and killed three people. Reported cases also appeared in Thailand, South Korea, and Japan.

The study was conducted by Imperial College London's MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis pursuant to a strange case of pneumonia in China. The study accounts for air traffic flow and known cases outside China to construe the estimate, a "total of 1,723 cases" in Wuhan on January 12. The research team posted their findings online before official publication.

"It is likely that the Wuhan outbreak of a novel coronavirus has caused substantially more cases of moderate or severe respiratory illness than currently reported", reads the report.

Chinese authorities have speculated the virus was transferred to humans from animals in a seafood market in Wuhan, where most of the infected people were found. The study didn't exclude the possibility of human-to-human transmission.

Singapore and Hong Kong have intensified screening for Wuhan airline passengers. From Friday, United States authorities declared similar measures for San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York major airports.