How Bad is the Wuhan Virus as a Coronavirus?

MERS was 30%, SARS was 10% and Wuhan coronavirus only appears to be around 5% mortality. However the spread of this coronavirus appears to be broader, raising global concern but not enough for the World Health Organization to make any declaration of a public health emergency.

So of the first 600 people to get the virus, only around 30 are expected to die. Considering those are mostly the elderly or people with pre-existing health issues, that’s perhaps not so scary.

As up to 7 cities in China are quarantined, the spread to Macau, Vietnam, Singapore and elsewhere in the world is notable. Numbers are expected to rise in the coming week. China mostly has a social unrest crisis of fear and anger.

Hong Kong and British scientists have estimated that between 1,300 and 1,700 people in the city may have been infected in Wuhan itself, of the 570 officially so far reported. Still this is a bit like the Metal Rat doing damage to China’s biggest holiday period.

Most known coronaviruses cause relatively mild cold-like symptoms, but their ability to jump between humans and animals makes them hard to contain. Currently human to human contact is thought to occur mostly due to close contact, like family members or caregivers.

China clearly didn’t react fast enough at the beginning of the Wuhan virus crisis and may be trying to compensate now with a lock-down approach. This strategy is itself debatable as a lot of travelers have already likely spread the virus in mainland China.

The fact of how global the spread is already is concerning. More than 10 countries now have cases. Many other countries are keeping a close eye on potential cases.


The gambling hub, hugely popular with mainland China tourists, has confirmed two cases.

Hong Kong

As of Thursday, two people have tested positive in Hong Kong. Both had visited Wuhan in recent days and are being treated in hospital isolation wards.


On Jan 16, Japan’s health ministry confirmed its first case – a man who had visited Wuhan and was hospitalised on Jan 10, four days after his return to Japan.


Singapore confirmed its first case on Thursday, Jan 23 – a 66-year-old man from Wuhan who arrived in Singapore with his family on Monday.

South Korea

South Korea reported its first case on Jan 20 – a 35-year-old woman who flew in from Wuhan.


On Jan 22, on the self-ruled island of Taiwan, authorities confirmed a first case – a Taiwanese woman in her fifties, living in Wuhan, who returned to the island on Monday with symptoms including fever, coughing and a sore throat.


Thailand has detected two cases – a 74-year-old Chinese woman, who is being treated at hospital after presenting with symptoms at Thailand’s biggest airport, Suvarnabhumi, on Jan 13.

On Jan 8, a Chinese traveller was diagnosed with mild pneumonia that was later confirmed to have been caused by the coronavirus.

However for places like Canada and the U.S. with a lot of Chinese students, spread of the coronavirus could already have occurred, undetected thus far or the news has been suppressed so as not to alarm the public.

The early evidence seems to indicate Wuhan virus is far less deadly than SARS or MERS, but appears to have a wider global radius.

The U.S. State Department on Thursday reiterated its level 2 travel advisory, indicating travelers should “exercise increased caution.” WHO says “not the time to declare a global health emergency”, but appears to have been split down the middle on the decision.

Residents in Wuhan are nervous or angry. The mass quarantine approach in China would likely not even be possible in other countries. Reports suggested first 3 and now 7 cities have been mandated to follow this approach.

At the same time, an international virologist has said he feels powerless and feels this could be ten times worse than SARS.

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