Wuhan outbreak

Top medical journal: Wuhan probably contains 130,000 infected

Scientists from Hong Kong University have made public a report indicating that the Chinese city of Wuhan is likely to be home to more than 130,000 people infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV.

The report was published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. To identify how many individuals are likely to be suffering from the illness, the researchers used data on the number of cases exported from Wuhan to find the rate of infection for the disease. The scientists then applied that rate to the population exposed to the virus.

The researchers predicted that epidemics are growing exponentially now in multiple major cities of China, with a lag time behind Wuhan of about 1-2 weeks. These cities include Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

The researchers also predicted, based upon their findings, that large cities outside China with close transport links to the country are at high risk of experiencing an outbreak. Such a list of cities would include Sydney, and possibly other Australian cities.

The findings by the researchers were for Tuesday last week, with a doubling approximately every week. The number at time of publication was about 75,000.

Such findings are radically different from the official infection rates being released to the public by authorities in Beijing. As of writing, the official numbers infected were less than 15,000.

The findings of the study are closer instead to the number of cases that Chinese authorities say they are monitoring as potential instances of the virus. This has led some analysts to suspect that the dire shortage of testing kits in China has led to severe under-reporting of the intensity of the outbreak.

Also at odds with official statistics and mainstream reporting have been videos emerging from Wuhan of bodies being sent straight from hospitals and quarantine centres to the nearest crematoria, without any recording or notification of the death.

Such leaked footage is supported by protocols published in Chinese state media about how to deal with victims of the disease.

In order to avoid a possible panicked response should the outbreak become a global pandemic, it is advisable for Australians to consider what preparations might be prudent at this stage. Relying upon authorities for information and support may be an inadequate response. For the tens of millions of Chinese citizens in lockdown at the time of publication who had little or no time to prepare, that was the case.