hina’s top medical advisor has declared that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak may peak this month and be over by April, though not everyone is inclined to believe him.
Dr. Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese epidemiologist who is credited with discovering SARS in 2003, said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday that the number of new coronavirus cases has already been falling in some provinces, estimating that, according to government data models, the peak should come sometime in middle to late February.
“I hope this outbreak or this event may be over in something like April,” he added.
— Yicai Global 第一财经 (@yicaichina) February 12, 2020
Recent figures do seem to back up Zhong’s projection with a decline in the number of confirmed and suspected cases over the last several days. Tuesday saw the fewest new confirmed cases since back in January.
However, much still remains unknown about the virus — like how it was only recently discovered that the virus can have an incubation period as long as 24 days, rather than the previously thought 14 days.
It’s also worth noting that this is the second time that Zhong has revised his prediction about the virus’s peak. Back on January 28, he estimated it would be in seven to 10 days while on February 2, he changed that to in the next 10 to 14 days.
Meanwhile, doubts have been expressed about the reliability of government figures, particularly after China’s National Health Commission amended its guidelines last week for how it classifies cases.
According to new guidelines, patients who test positive for the virus but show no symptoms will no longer be classified as “confirmed cases,” a procedural change that could be responsible for the drop in numbers.
Chinese National Health Commission has changed their definition of #WuhanCoronavirus "confirmed case" in their latest guidelines dated 7/2. Patients tested positive for the virus but have no symptoms will no longer be regarded as confirmed. This inevitably will lower the numbers. pic.twitter.com/q4eWKGfWev
— Alex Lam 林偉聰 (@lwcalex) February 10, 2020
While the number of new coronavirus cases may be decreasing, the same can not be said for the number of new deaths. On Tuesday, nearly 100 deaths were reported, bringing the virus’s total death toll up to 1,116 people in China.