Covid-19 pandemic seen increasingly likely

Image courtesy: Global Biodefense

(, Feb24’20) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has said Feb 24 that the Covid-19 epidemic had “peaked” in China but warned that a surge in cases elsewhere was “deeply concerning” and all countries should prepare for a “potential pandemic”, reported the AFP Feb 25. Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch has predicted that the coronavirus “will ultimately not be containable” and, within a year, infect somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of humanity, reported The Week Feb 25, citing reports from The Atlantic. But there is no need for alarm as many of those people won’t have severe illnesses or even show symptoms at all, which is already the case for many people who have tested positive for the virus, Lipsitch has clarified.

While China has continued to report uptrend in containing the infection’s spread in the country, the situation is worsening in some other countries, notably South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran, giving rise to fears about a developing global pandemic.

On Feb 25, China reported 508 new confirmed cases and 71 deaths on the mainland on Feb 24, taking their totals to 77,658 and 2,663 respectively.

Hubei Province, the epidemic’s epicentre, accounted for 499 of the new confirmed cases and 68 of the deaths on Feb 24, taking their totals to 64,786 and to 2,563, respectively.

A total of 2,824 people were still suspected of being infected with the virus, including with the addition of 530 new suspected cases on Feb 24 across the mainland.

A total of 87,902 others were still under medical observation.

China said the newly cured and discharged patients had surpassed that of new infections for the seventh consecutive day.

No new confirmed cases were reported on Feb 24 in 23 provincial-level regions on the mainland, which was one less than the day before.

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Data compiled by Feb 25 show that South Korea has the highest number of infections outside China at 977, with 11 deaths.

The highest number of deaths outside China had occurred in Iran at 16, where the number of cases was 95.

Italy had 229 cases and seven deaths.

In Japan there were 691 cases in the Diamond Princess cruise ship where four deaths had occurred while in the country itself there were 159 cases and one death.

Hong Kong had 85 cases and two deaths.

The Philippines, Taiwan, France had one death each thus far.

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Meanwhile, a team of Chinese scientists have claimed in a new study that the novel coronavirus did not originate at a seafood market in the central China city of Wuhan as was previously reported.

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the Covid-19 infection, was instead imported from elsewhere, the Feb 23 cited researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Institute for Brain Research, as saying.

The team, led by Dr Yu Wenbin, was stated to have sequenced the genomic data of 93 SARS-CoV-2 samples provided by 12 countries in a bid to track down the source of the infection and understand how it spreads.

The team was stated to have found that while the virus had spread rapidly within the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, there had also been two major population expansions on Dec 8 and Jan 6 and that the coronavirus was introduced from outside the market.

Earlier reports by Chinese health authorities and the WHO said that the first known patient showed symptoms on Dec 8, and that most of the subsequent cases had links to the seafood market.


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