However, according to an analysis from Imperial College London, the number of people to be infected as of January 12 (per the study) is likely more in the region of 1,723 — a figure around 35 times greater than the 45 cases confirmed in a lab.
Their analysis relies on statistical projection to figure out how widely the virus has spread from its point of origin at a seafood market in Wuhan.
—MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis (@MRC_Outbreak) January 17, 2020
It hinges on the fact that three cases have been detected abroad: two in Thailand and one in Japan.
Given that only around 3,400 of Wuhan’s 19 million residents take international flights each day, the experts said that in order for three infected people to have made it abroad, the total number must be in the thousands.
The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, which was sealed off after being identified as the epicenter of a new virus.
Photo by Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images
The scientists admit that their method is imprecise. As well as the 1,723 figure from their preferred scenario, the team of five academics gave other possible figures. The lowest was 996 and the highest 2,298.
Here is the academics’ conclusion:
“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.
“The estimates presented here suggest surveillance should be expanded to include all hospitalised cases of pneumonia or severe respiratory disease in the Wuhan area and other well-connected Chinese cities.”