As China struggles to contain the deadly coronavirus that originated in the city of Wuhan and has since spread throughout the world, disease experts have a grim outlook.

The pandemic naturally invites comparisons to the SARS outbreak of 2003, which killed over 700 people around the world. But Guan Yi, a virologist who helped identify SARS, told The Washington Post that “conservatively,” the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is likely to be at least ten times as bad as SARS.

“A bigger outbreak is certain,” he told the Post.

SARS, Yi explained, didn’t spread nearly as readily as the Wuhan coronavirus, and was more isolated within well-defined regions of China.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus has already spread to at least five countries, infecting at least 835 and killing at least 26, according to WaPo. But the numbers are ever-shifting and have been difficult to pin down, a problem that only complicates the official response to the pandemic.

“We have passed through the ‘golden period’ for prevention and control,” Yi told Caixin Magazine, per WaPo. “What’s more, we’ve got the holiday traffic rush and a dereliction of duty from certain officials.”

So far, the Chinese government has quarantined entire cities and tried to control the flow of information surrounding the outbreak, moves that WaPo reports have residents feeling as though they’ve been left out to dry.


The Latest Pandemic Threat

We could dodge this bullet, but we need to be prepared for the next one.

I’m worried about the new coronavirus that has broken out in China and spread, albeit as of now in isolated cases, to other countries. Fortunately, the CDC has assessed that the risk of a major outbreak in the United States is low.

I hope the risk is indeed low, because the stakes are very high, particularly now that human-to-human transmission has been confirmed.

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Map tracks coronavirus outbreak in near real time

The Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering has built and is regularly updating an online dashboard for tracking the worldwide spread of the coronavirus outbreak that began in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Lauren Gardner, a civil engineering professor and CSSE’s co-director, spearheaded the effort to launch the mapping website on Wednesday. The site displays statistics about deaths and confirmed cases of coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, across a worldwide map. It also allows visitors to download the data for free.

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New coronavirus: What you need to know

A new flu-like strain of the coronavirus has been reported in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand and the US.

Currently, there are no reported cases in Canada, although several people are being monitored for signs they may have contracted the virus.

McMaster’s Environmental & Occupational Health Support Services is continuing to monitor the situation and will follow any recommendations made by Canadian public health agencies.

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