This Sunday, China‘s Health Minister Ma Xiaowei released a story that has raised concerns around the world regarding the new coronavirus epidemic: people can spread it before they even feel the symptoms of the disease.
While more than 2,000 people are infected worldwide, mostly in China, where 56 patients have already died, the news that the virus is infectious since the incubation period itself raises alarms among experts, as this makes it harder to contain and It destroys the main measures that are being put in place to prevent contagion in countries like the United States.
The authorities announced that the sale of wild animals, a highly exploited commercial activity in China, is prohibited as of this Sunday. It was precisely in an animal market where the outbreak originated, in the city of Wuhan, and it is believed that it was the snakes who transferred the virus to humans.
Among humans, this coronavirus is spread more easily than others in the same family, such as those that caused SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) or MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).
In humans, the incubation period, during which a person has the disease but still has no symptoms, varies between 1 and 14 days, according to the authorities. During that time, You can spread the virus without even knowing you’re sick.
“When I heard this, I thought, ‘My God, this is worse than we expected.’ It means that the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought,” Dr. William Schaffner, a long-time advisor to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, after hearing the news this Sunday.
Schaffner added that this new information questions the practices that the United States is carrying out to contain the virus and that the disease does not extend beyond the three cases already confirmed.
If the Chinese Ministry of Health is correct, Schaffner said, “we will have to reevaluate our strategy.”
Dr. George Díaz, a member of the team that treats the patient affected by the coronavirus in Washington, listed the symptoms he detected in this patient in an interview with Jorge Ramos in the Al Punto de Univisión program on Saturday. According to the expert, cough and fever were the main symptoms of this person when he appeared before the doctors, but when he came from China, he was tested and finally tested positive.
The Department of Public Health is monitoring all people who were in previous contact with the patient, he said.
“In our system we are asking each person who comes to a clinic, emergency room, hospital, if they have come from China or have had contact with people who have come from China, and if that is positive we ask them if they have the symptoms of fever and cough. And if they have both, then we put those people in isolation to give them more tests, “Diaz explained.
Only two nurses attend the affected patient in Washington and a robot tests him, the expert explained. It is treated like another person with a regular viral process. “There is no specific treatment to treat the virus at the moment,” Diaz added.
This Sunday, the Chinese press reported that the Center for Disease Prevention and Control of that country was already developing a vaccine against the coronavirus, “after successfully isolating the first strain of the virus.”
In Wuhan 1,000 more cases are expected
Zhou Xianwang, mayor of Wuhan City, the epicenter of the outbreak, said Sunday that about 1,000 new patients are expected in the city, who sees their collapsed hospitals and endless rows of people waiting to be diagnosed and treated.
According to the mayor, thanks to private donations, which are stimulating through social networks, it has helped reduce the shortage of resources and medical and prevention equipment to deal with the disease.
Scientists at Imperial College London have estimated the human-to-human transmission rate of Wuhan’s coronavirus, saying that each infected person has infected two or three other people, they said Saturday in a report.
“We estimate that, on average, each case infected another 2.6 people (with a range of uncertainty of 1.5 -3.5) until January 18, 2020, according to an analysis that combines our estimates of the size of the outbreak in Wuhan with computational models of potential trajectories of the epidemic, “they say in the report.
This team calculates that the transmission must stop at 60% to become effective in controlling the outbreak.
The National Health Commission of China reported that on Saturday only 15 new deaths had been recorded and 688 new infections identified. This Sunday there have been other new cases inside and outside China, such as a third case in the United States, a fourth in Japan and a sixth in Hong Kong, adding more than 2,015 confirmed cases worldwide.