The new coronavirus might have infected at least 500,000 people in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicenter of the global outbreak, by the time it peaks in coming weeks, Bloomberg reports.
But most of those people won’t know it. The typically bustling megacity, where the so-called 2019-nCoV virus emerged late last year, has been in effective lockdown since Jan. 23, restricting the movement of 11 million people.
Recent trends in reported cases in Wuhan broadly support the preliminary 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” of virus cases in Wuhan, Adam Kucharski, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology, said by 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%.”
That would potentially mean at least 1 in 20 people would have been infected in the city by the time the epidemic peaks, Kucharski said, adding that this may change if transmission patterns slow in coming days.
The prediction doesn’t indicate a coming surge in cases in Wuhan, but that the current cumulative total doesn’t reflect all infections, especially mild ones, that have occurred.