• The coronavirus has already killed over 80 people
  • About 100,000 people could already be infected
  • The coronavirus has a reproductive rate of 3

A public health expert warned that the number of people infected by the novel coronavirus from China could already be at around 100,000. The expert based his estimate on the reproductive rate of the infectious disease.

The first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus emerged last month in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. Since then, the virus has spread to over a dozen other countries with confirmed cases in the U.S., Australia, Canada and France. According to recent reports, the death toll in China caused by the virus has already exceeded 80.

In response to the growing crisis, officials in China and other nations have implemented lockdowns on areas with confirmed cases. Travel restrictions were also established to prevent the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, an expert working with the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that hundreds of thousands of people may have already been infected by the coronavirus.

Public health expert Neil Ferguson of the Imperial College in London is currently working with WHO to model the disease. Through his work, he was able to determine that the virus has a reproductive rate of 2.5 to 3. This means every infected person has the potential to transmit the virus to up to three other people.

Currently, the number of confirmed cases worldwide is at 2,700. However, based on the virus’ reproductive rate, Ferguson noted that this figure could be at least 30,000. Unfortunately, since there are still a number of people from China entering other countries, the health expert believes that the actual number of confirmed cases could be around 100,000. Ferguson noted that many of these infected individuals could be mild carriers of the virus.

“Sooner or later we will get a case,” he said according to The Guardian. “There are very large numbers of Chinese tourists across Europe right now. Unless the Chinese manage to control this, and I’m skeptical about whether that is possible, we will get cases here.”

“My best guess now is perhaps 100,000 cases right now,” Ferguson continued. “Almost certainly many tens of thousands of people are infected.”

The coronavirus infection has killed at least 25 people while the number of confirmed cases has leapt to 830
The coronavirus infection has killed at least 25 people while the number of confirmed cases has leapt to 830 AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI